Rudiments of Acupuncture:  Levels of Disease Invasion from  Yellow Emperor's Classic



                HUANG Di asked, "Could you please tell me the important principles of acupuncture?"

                Qi Bo answered, "In disease one must differentiate between the external and the internal location of the pathogen. In acupuncture there are differentiations of deep or shallow insertion. If the illness is on the biao, or external, level, one should insert superficially; if on the infernal level, one should insert more deeply. The location of the illness must be reached; but it is important not to insert too deeply so as to not injure the five zany organs. Inserting too shallowly, however, will not allow the physician to reach the area of illness, and the qi and blood can be disrupted, which allows an opportunity for pathogens to enter. Acupuncture performed without a guiding principle can be dangerous or damaging.

                "It is said that illness may be on the hair level, the skin level, the muscle or flesh level, the level of the channels, the tendon level, the bone level, or the marrow level. When treating illness on the hair level with acupuncture, do not damage the skin level, as this will affect the health of the lungs. When the lung function is disrupted, by autumn one may become susceptible to malarial diseases. Gradually this may grow into a fear of chills. If the illness is at the skin level, one must take care not to damage the muscle level so as not to impact the spleen function. If the spleen function is damaged, during the last eighteen days of each season the patient will manifest distension, fullness, and loss of appetite. In illness at the muscle level, needling too deeply will damage the channel level. In this case the heart function will be disrupted; chest pain or angina will manifest by summer. In illness of the channels and vessels, needling too deeply will damage the tendon level. This will impact the liver function; by spring, one will manifest febrile disease or a flaccidity of the ligaments and tendons. In illness of the tendons, needling too deeply will damage the bone level. This will impact the kidney function. In this case, during the winter one will experience back pain and distension of the abdomen. Finally, in illness of the bones, needling too deeply will damage the marrow. The marrow then gradually depletes, causing soreness, tiredness, and weakness in the extremities, leading to disability."


From the Yellow Emperor's Classic--Chap 50, p184