COLORADO SERENITY – SEPTEMBER 2003     Acupuncture Lineages and TOYOHARI


Tracy Saraduke, RN, M.Ac. L.Ac.

3082 Evergreen Parkway, Suite 2

Evergreen, CO 80439

(303) 670-9181


      Archeologists have unearthed acupuncture needles that they’ve dated at 3,000 B.C. and earlier.  Written records tell us that acupuncture was being practiced in China at least as early as the Culture Heroes Period that ended with Emperor Huang Di (around 2,700 B.C.).  Sometime since its development, acupuncture spread beyond the boundaries of China.  Lineages of multiple styles developed in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, other Asian countries, and the West.

      The Japanese, having a talent for innovation and refinement, developed a unique acupuncture style called meridian therapy.  Meridian therapy is taught in hundreds of different schools with many variations in this style.  The Japanese use thinner needles, fewer needles, and insert to a shallower depth.

      The Japanese also have discovered that the blind are well suited to be acupuncturists. They use their heightened sense of touch for diagnosis and treatment.  They learn to feel many subtleties: circulation, circulation blocks, skin temperature, skin texture, pulse qualities, and how to actually feel chi.

      With their palpation skills, the blind acupuncturists developed an elegant technique of touch needling: non-insertion of a silver needle that directs chi in specific ways.  This technique is taught in the Toyohari schools. (Toyo=Asia, hari=acupuncture or acupuncture needle.) 

      Here is a description of the Toyohari touch needling technique.  First, the practitioner forms a diagnosis based on signs, symptoms and acupuncture theory.  Next, she palpates meridians to check the potential effect of treating a particular meridian.  Then, “alive” acupuncture points are located and lightly needled (typically without puncturing the skin).  Finally, she checks for desirable changes in pulses and other physical signs.  As with all meridian therapies, this “root” treatment is supplemented with other techniques aimed at improving symptoms, providing an overall treatment for wellness while addressing specific complaints.  The supplemental technique may be moxibustion, bodywork, exercise, or other needling techniques.

      The Japanese generally follow the notion that “less is more.”  Instead of overwhelming the nervous system with deep insertion of thicker needles, these techniques give the patient’s body a gentle nudge in the right direction.  The patient’s natural healing ability responds to the subtler hint.  Having overloaded nervous systems, our society is better suited to these gentler styles of acupuncture.      With acupuncture, we do not treat or cure diseases, we treat the whole person, promoting self-healing.  The Toyohari style offers an effective, less invasive approach to this end.