This radio interview of Peter LaGrasse was conducted by Helen Holod, on the Holistic Health Network radio program, Glens Falls, N. Y., on September 14, 2004.
Helen: We have with us today a massage therapist who uses Traditional Chinese Medicine-based energy therapy in his treatments. Peter LaGrasse has been working as a massage therapist for ten years. Peter, what is energy therapy?
Peter: Energy therapy is a form of massage that for me is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. There is a wide spectrum of energy-based massage and energy-based therapy that is not massage. Reiki, non-contact therapeutic touch and crystals come to mind as non-massage treatments. In the massage category, I think of Craniosacral Therapy, Shiatsu, Jin Shin Do and acupressure. My background is AMMA therapy, which is from Korea and mainland China.
All of these therapies purport to influence the energy system of the body. For me, I see the energy system within the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is often referred to as TCM. This means that I rely on influencing the energy system by manipulating the acupoints of the body. I attempt to remove blockages and free the flow of energy in the body, thereby restoring, promoting and maintaining optimum health.
Helena: How is the energy flow influenced?
Peter: Typically, AMMA therapy uses small, deliberate and slow circular friction massage strokes along the channel of energy flow. These channels are specifically located in the body, twelve on each side of the midline. They go to the head, six go to the arms, six to the legs. Many acupoints are located along these channels, or more commonly referred to as meridians. Digital pressure, that is, finger or thumb pressure, on acupoints is a hallmark of Chinese and Japanese massage.
An acupuncturist will insert needles into the energy pathways to stimulate energy movement. Other techniques involve burning moxa, a herb rolled up into a ball about 3/16 round, on the acupoints. This gives a slight flash of heat to the acupoint. Another technique is cupping, where small suction cups are applied to the body to draw blood to the area.
I do all these techniques and I also use various vibrating devices to influence the acupoints. I will tape tiny metal balls, less than 1/64 inch, on the acupoints. I use lentil-size magnets, 1/4 inch in diameter or less. I use sound waves from a Chi machine, purported to mimic the healing energy of Qi Gong masters hands.
Helena: What is Chi?
Peter: When you ask what is chi in Chinese medicine, it is like asking to explain the universe, for it is a philosophical concept that is pervasive in Taoist Chinese thinking. In Chinese medicine, chi is the energy or essence that makes the various organs tick. In that each organ is doing what is its specific function, chi is not one thing, but manifests itself in many forms. And to add to this, chi is constantly transforming its character from one form to another, and it is constantly in a state of balance so as not to be excessive or deficient.
Helena: This sounds so complicated.
Peter: This subject is mind boggling. Traditional thinking is that there is a natural force that fills the universe called chi. There is a chi, or Qi, of Heaven, a Qi of Earth and a Qi of Man. The spellings Qi and chi, the latter depicting the English pronunciation, are interchangeable. The Heavenly Qi is made up of the energy of the Sun, Moonlight, Moons gravity and the energy of the Stars, something like astrology. Storms are caused by too much Heavenly Qi. The concept of balance between Heavenly chi and Earth chi prevails. This balance concept is called yin and yang and it is repeated throughout Chinese thought.
The Earth Qi consists of lines and patterns of energy, magnetic energy and subterranean Heat. If the Earth Qi is not balanced, we have earthquakes. When Heaven and Earth Qi are balanced, there is enough rain, plants grow, and animals thrive.
Each individual and animal, as well, has Qi, which always seeks to be balanced, and there exists an interrelationship between Heavenly Qi, Earth Qi and Human Qi.
In the health care area, the concepts of Qi are narrowed to the specific flow of the Qi in the body and the yin yang balance of these Qis. Qi has to be balanced and controlled. Too much yang Qi would result in fever, called Fire. Too much yen Qi would result in chills. So you see, health care is concerned with a balance of, or control, of Qi. A study of fever and chills, the presence of Fire, red complexion, fever, coughing, etc., is an example of fire on with the cough, fire rising. That is, energy moving upward instead of downward. It would also be termed Rebellion Qi, because it would be energy going in toe wrong direction.
An application of energy medicine
Helen: Can you give us a feel of how you would approach a specific disease using energy medicine?
Peter: Helena, lets consider the common cold. The common cold is a respiratory tract infection that includes the sinuses, throat, larynx, trachea and bronchia. The nasal passages may be obstructed, there may be mucus discharge that may be clear and watery to yellow or green.
From a TCM viewpoint, the common cold is not caused by a virus, but by one of the Six Pernicious Influences, usually Wind, maybe Wind Cold or Wind Heat. The external Wind, can affect the body and cause an internal pathogenic Wind Heat or Wind Cold. Defensive Qi, Wei Qi, is overwhelmed and the body succumbs to the common cold.
The Lungs are the delicate organ, being more exposed to external environmental exposure than other organs. The Lungs govern surface skin in TCM and they control Wei Qi.
If a persons Wei Qi, or Defensive Qi, is low due to stress, overwork, poor diet, or a weak constitution, there will be an insufficient defense or immune system.
Going to a popular laymans text, Healing with Pressure Point Therapy by Jack Forem and Steve Shimer, the authors suggest a strategy to revitalize the immune system and to harmonize the flow of Qi.
One of the acupoints suggested is LI-4 on the Large Intestine meridian. Points are numbered along the twelve meridians, which is too much to delve into, but we can address each point separately, and for now just this acupoint.
LI-4 lies between the thumb and the index finder on the back surface of the hand, about 1/2 inch up from the margin of the web. I find the point against the side of the index finger.
Lets see the attributes of the point, referring to Arnie Lades Acupuncture Points, Images and Functions, my school test that describes each point. This point facilitates Qi flow, dispels Wind, Wind Cold, Wind Heat, Transforms Damp Heat and phlegm and tonifies protective Qi, to be used for common cold.
It is obvious that this point influences a host of conditions and that you cant go wrong using it. The point dispels Wind, the disease of the common cold.
I would press the point with the thumb, possibly tape a metal pellet on it or a magnet to extend the effect of the treatment and I would go to the next point. A treatment may have six or eight points, bilateral, all of which would have a similar write-up. Multiple point use enhances the effect. It is that simple.
Lets go to another necessary point, LU-7 or Lung 7. (The Lung meridian is the main meridian to consider in treating Lung conditions. The Lung governs Qi, it is the foundation of Qi, and causes Qi to descend and controls Wei Qi or Defensive Qi..)
LU-7 is located on the inside, or palm, surface of the forearm, 2 inches proximal to the wrist crease and just lateral to the radial artery. that puts it just at the edge of, but on the radius bone.
LU-7 regulates Lung Qi and is for conditions such as asthma bronchitis, nasal discharge, productive cough, and sore throat. LU-7 diffuses Lung Qi, stimulates sweating, dispels Wind Cold, Wind Heat and is good for the common cold.
The next point to work is TB-5. The Triple Burner meridian is a funny meridian because it does not represent an actual organ as is the case for the Lung and large Intestine and the other meridians. Instead the TB is a functional energy system associated with the three main cavities of the trunk, the thorax, the abdomen, and the pelvis.
TB-5 is located on the back of the forearm, in the middle between the radius and the ulna 2 inches proximal to the flexure of the wrist. The point clears Heat, dispels Wind and Wind Heat and tonifies protective Qi, and is indicated for the common cold with fever and alternate fever and chills.
Helen: Peter, you are using three points near the wrist to help the common cold. I thought you would use points closer to the lungs or throat.
Peter: In acupoint therapy you select near points and far points. These wrist points LI-4, LU, and TB-5 are all important, but now we will do an even more important point for the Lungs. On the back just below the top of the shoulders are two really important points for the Lungs, BL-12 and BL- 13, on the Bladder meridian. These points are bilateral, 1-1/2 inches from the center of the spine and adjacent to the spinal process of the second and third thoracic vertebra. You find them by feeling the lump in the spinal processes when the neck is flexed forward, this is T-1, then count down for the second and third spinal process.
B-12 is called Winds Gate. It is an important point in regulating and dispersing external pathogenic Wind. BL-12 regulates the Lung Qi, expands and relaxes the chest, dispels Wind, Wind Cold and Wind Heat and transforms Phlegm Cold. It is indicated for a host of pulmonary conditions including TB, pneumonia, common cold, bronchitis, pleurisy, asthma, couch, whooping cough, chest and back pain and dyspnea.
B-13 is called Lungs Hollow, suggesting a container through which the circulating Qi of the Lung passes. B-13 regulates and tonifies Lung Qi.
In working the Bladder points, I visualize the Qi flow in the Bladder channel along each side of the spine. If these muscles are tight anywhere along the line, Qi is obstructed. So I consider not only the point Fl-12 or Bl-13, but the entire line of Bladder points, the channel itself. I use AMMA techniques of circular friction and digital pressure, and the use of G-5 electric vibrator or the Thumper. Once the back is loosened, it is well to concentrate on Bladder 12 and 13 and to finish with a magnet or metal pellet.
The last point suggested is GB-20 on the Gall Bladder meridian. This point is called Wind Pont. It is the point where external pathogenic Wind easily enters the body and gathers before penetrating deeper. It is on the back of the neck just below the overhanging cranium and about 2 inches medial to the mastoid process, which is just behind the ear lobe.
GB-20 dispels Wind, Wild Cold and Wind Heat and facilitates Qi flow. It is good for treating the common cold.
On this interview I have tried to give an introduction to acupressure-based energy work. For the most part, these skills are in your hands. You can acquire these skills. These are many user-oriented texts that adequately describe treatments such as I have described in detail.