What Options are Available for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis by Acupuncture?

By Richard Blackwell BMedSci (Hons)


The methodologies of literature review and interpretative case study are employed to explore in depth the therapeutic options available to acupuncturists in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The interpretative case study approach also allows an exploration of the practice of Chinese medicine “from the inside” and is congruent with the traditions of Chinese medicine.

A single case is presented in depth and the treatment process is described over a period of six years. The literature is referenced throughout in an exploration of the complex interweaving of theory and practice which characterises the work of a professional acupuncturist. Approaches to diagnosis discussed include: pattern differentiation; a staging system as a refinement of pattern differentiation; Li Dong-yuan’s theory of Yin Fire; differentiation according to the eight extraordinary channels; and palpatory diagnosis. Treatment strategies discussed include: point selection according to point actions; selection of points on the back; selection of extraordinary channel points; selection of points to treat Yin fire patterns; selection of points according to classical uses; and selection of appropriate scalp acupuncture areas.

Issues arising from the case concerning treatment reactions and the effect of different styles of needle manipulation are discussed in detail.
It is concluded that practitioners can achieve more in the treatment of multiple sclerosis by drawing on a broad repertoire of approaches drawn from the diverse strands of the tradition and from the current literature. This broad repertoire can widen the interpretative frameworks available in making the diagnosis and can expand the range of options for point selection and methods of treatment. Recommendations are made for further research.