It is indeed always a pleasant thought to be asked to preface
a book-one's mind wanders over all the facets which the book itself
deals with, and also into the byways which lead from the particular
into the wider scene. After several long years of exposure to the
practice of acupuncture, both the writer and the author have
explored in detail the subject itself, and have thus wandered,
sometimes unwittingly, into the broader scene of communication
with colleagues, students, patients, and the community at large-
both national and international. Mainly these contacts are enormously rewarding-but even the occasional rebuffs have the
benefit of making us look at ourselves critically at what we are
After many years what has been learned and achieved? Modern theories about the physiology of acupuncture have been ex-
pounded, trialled, and accepted as probable mechanisms for some
physiological actions of acupuncture. Apart from the Gate Control
Theory of Melzack and Wall, the neurotransmitter theories certainly
have suggested that acupuncture triggers central neurological
mechanisms, which cause alterations in a wide spectrum of neurotransmitter substances, which in turn may set the scene for a
return to normal physiology within the body i.e. homeostasis.
However; as yet, no one definitive theory explains all the observed
and varied phenomena.
On the other side of the story, years of clinical practice have
positively identified that acupuncture has a definite place in the
health care of all peoples of the world, both in the East and the
West, and that it can be integrated successfully with modern
medical practice. In properly trained hands it is inexpensive, harm-
less-but essentially effective over a large range of common disorders, and can be used, together with modern diagnostic methods, to help reduce the increasing upsurge of side effects (some
serious) produced by so many of our potent modern chemotherapeutic agents.
"New methods of stimulating the Acupuncture points have been
devised including ultrasound and laser therapy. Laser therapy in
particular has been shown to be safe and effective, and where
Hepatitis B and AIDS are a risk with needle puncture, laser therapy
is a viable alternative. This is surely a marriage of modern technology and an ancient art, using the best of the old and the new
together for the benefit of all, looking towards health care for all
people by the year 2000."
The new edition of Clinical Acupuncture, now translated to
five languages, again flowing from the voluminous and seemingly
never ending pen of Professor Anton Jayasuriya, is a further
meaningful step in keeping students of this ancient art up to date
with clear, concise information which should help them develop,
with time, as well-qualified acupuncturists. In doing so, Professor
Jayasuriya is making available to the world at large valuable
material for the benefit of the whole of mankind.
(to the First Edition)
Three to four thousand years after the Yellow Emperor's Canon
on Acupuncture, modern doctors are now rediscovering acupuncture. While China leads the world today, it is important that centres
outside China replicate their results; the essence of the scientific
method is replication. Moreover, sceptics outside China will only
accept their results if they are repeated in other countries. Hence
the experience of healers in Sri Lanka, as summarized in this book,
is an important contribution to the scientific world.
This book has been written with the experience of treating over
250,000 patients in Sri Lanka with methods learned in China, and
of teaching over six thousand acupuncturists from many countries.
I have spent several months at the 'Colombo South General
Hospital', Kalubowila, and have observed over 500 patients a day
being treated with acupuncture alone. I also saw many local and
foreign students being trained in acupuncture therapy. It was
evident that the training program was an excellent one, deriving,
from two factors: the huge patient load, and the superb training
methods of Professor Anton Jayasuriya. Sri Lanka has, no doubt,
the best acupuncture teaching centre in the world.
Of particular interest to me, of course, was the performing of
surgery using acupuncture analgesia. The methodology of acupuncture analgesia, ",1 saw done in Colombo seems to be more
acceptable to the World)at I .was shown In The People's
Republic of China.
In Colombo, some of the result acupuncture therapy were
truly amazing. For example: I daw 6 severe cases of acute bronchial asthma restored to not . .mal breathing within 10 minutes;
acupuncture was used, instead of noradrenalin. I observed a case
of frozen shoulder of 8 month's duration completely cured within
15 minutes (far more effective than steroids). I saw a severely
wasted leg of a polio victim (of 15 years duration), completely
restored to normal after 80 days of acupuncture (a cure unheard
of in Western medicine). The "cure" rate, anecdotally, seemed very
high (more than 60% of cases) in many diseases such as asthma,
psoriasis, migraine and backache. In other diseases such as
epilepsy, neuromuscular disorders and mental disorders there
were cures, but the frequency of cure was somewhat lower- In
China I was shown similar results, but I could not verify their claims
because of the language barrier; in Sri Lanka a majority of the
patients spoke English.
As I stated, the evidence I observed was only anecdotal. Although many controlled studies have been done to validate acupuncture analgesia in many research laboratories throughout the
world, much work is needed to verify scientifically the effectiveness
of acupuncture in curing disease. I have no doubt that this book
will serve to inspire clinicians and scientists to study acupuncture
therapy of disease in controlled experiments.
It domes not worry me much, if acupuncture yet defies scientific
explanation; after all, Einstein's discoveries were made by studying
the exceptions to Maxwell's equations. If acupuncture is an exception to the Western medical model, all the better; perhaps this
will be the chance for a major breakthrough in the further understanding of the human body complex.
The' barefoot doctor system still forms the backbone of the
medical services in rural China. In many backward areas of the
world such as countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and even
in the affluent countries with large rural areas cut off from the
population centres, the barefoot doctor experiment could be
adopted with a certain degree of success. A very large part of the
world's population lives, in fact, in rural and sometimes inaccessible areas where Western medicine, due to the constraints of its
sophistication, cannot easily be made available. The most potent
therapeutic weapon of the barefoot doctor is the acupuncture
needle. It is safe, simple, effective and economical, and can be
used by personnel after a short period of training. Acupuncture,
therefore, is the short term, as well as the long term answer, to
the health needs of the greater part of the Third World in many
This is not to say that acupuncture should be used only in the
absence of Western medicine. Many people, even in the West, are
becoming more aware of the manifold and horrendous complications of drug therapy, and are seeking alternative forms of therapy.
But a large quantity of drugs is still consumed as home remedies
in minor self-limiting illnesses like the common cold, tonsillitis,
insomnia, constipation, headache and gastro-enteritis. It is incumbent for the cultured mind of today to have an elementary under
standing of acupuncture and to employ it in such common disorders, before reaching for the bottle of pills.
Acupuncture is eminently applicable also in such modern situations as submarine missions, off-shore oil rigs, polar research
missions and space travel", where groups of workers are cut off
from the rest of the world, for prolonged periods.
This elementary book is written mainly as a guide to the bare-
foot doctors of the world. It is hoped that it will also serve as a
The Russian cosmonauts carry acupuncture needles on their space missions,
they are prohibited to take any medications.reference to every initiated person for methods of first aid in minor
and uncomplicated disorders. It is also directed at the Western
trained physician as a first step in understanding the methodology
of acupuncture, which can be usefully combined with scientific
medicine, to create a wide-spectrum weapon in the fight against
disease. In modern China the approach today is to combine
Western with traditional methods, both in diagnosis and therapy
(and this in fact is the approach of the teachers at the Academy
of Traditional Medicine in Beijing). The Western trained doctor will
find this approach particularly meaningful as the diseases discussed in this book are in the terminology and semantics familiar
This book is the synthesis of the experience of treating a very
large number of patients daily at the Institute of Acupuncture of
the Colombo South General Hospital, and the teachings of the
great masters at the Academy of Traditional Medicine in Peking,
the Institute of Physiology, Shanghai, and other centres in the
People's Republic of China, where I had the privilege to study. This
book, in fact, is a synopsis of the short teaching courses conducted
by us at the Institute of Acupuncture, Sri Lanka".
I wish to place on record my grateful thanks to the World Health
Organization for the granting of a Fellowship in 1974 which resulted in my obtaining the Diploma in Acupuncture in Peking, and
to the Foreign Office of the People's Republic of China for invitations in 1976, 1977 and again in 1979 to study the latest advances in acupuncture therapy and anaesthesia in China.
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