How, exactly, do I treat chronic fatigue with Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion? Let's take a look at how I have helped a former patient named Sally*.
Sally is a competitive middle distance runner and a university student. She trained hard and studied hard, burning the candle at both ends - a high achiever. Unfortunately she was not blessed with a constitution designed to withstand this kind of grueling pace.
A few years before she became truly ill, she found it steadily harder to sleep. This was a dangerous position for Sally to be in, as her already-taxed body was now unable to truly rest and recover. This further compounded the damaging effects of her heavy workload, which in turn affected her sleep more and more. A vicious circle arises.
After a couple of years of this punishment, Sally's immune system was in complete disarray.
The crisis point arrives: Sally contracts a mysterious illness with a high fever component. The doctors cannot diagnose it and can only prescribe panadol and rest.
The fever eventually subsides and the infection is finished, but Sally was still left feeling utterly wrecked.
Sally had barely enough energy to breathe, had no appetite, was constantly dizzy and suffering from headaches and neck pain.
This horrific state persisted for over a year while her family frantically searched for help. Like many people in her situation, Sally turned to Japanese acupuncture as a last resort.
I examined Sally's wrist pulses, took a look at her tongue, palpated her abdomen, asked her a lot of questions. It was immediately apparent that Sally was suffering from what Japanese acupuncture practitioners call "Liver Deficiency/Yang Deficiency/Cold Syndrome". In layman's terms, a very flat battery.
Energetically, the liver is the source of our stamina and energy. We draw on the blood and qi stored in the liver when we are active, and this blood and qi returns to the liver when we are at rest. When you work as hard and get as little sleep as Sally did, the blood and qi of the liver are not regenerated, with predictable results.
When a liver is depleted as Sally's, it loses its natural regenerative capability. Once she became ill, Sally was resting almost constantly to no avail.
Thus, in order for Sally to recover, her liver needed direct but gentle encouragement and nourishment. Japanese acupuncture is custom-built to provide exactly this kind of stimulus.
The treatment itself was very simple. I inserted a needle at three points (KI-3, LR-3 and GB-40 for those interested) on her feet, at a depth of about 0.2mm. I left the needle in place for only a few breaths at each point.
Then, I retained needles on Sally's back (at BL-13, 18, 20, 23 and 58) at roughly the same depth, for no more than 10 minutes. While they were in, I applied some very gentle warming moxibustion to her low back (GV-3).
The whole treatment procedure took about 20 minutes total. There was absolutely no pain or discomfort involved.
After one treatment, Sally immediately had more energy. After three treatments, the constant dizziness, neck pain and headaches were gone. After six treatments Sally's appetite began to return. Sleep began to return later.
Many treatments were required over a long period of time. By the end, however, Sally had recovered enough to accept a full-time position in a gruelling Defence graduate program.
* Name and certain details have been changed to protect privacy.