Acupuncture Becomes Accepted in America

Sunday, July 6, 1972

Sunday, July 6, 1972

New York-At the press preview of a brand new clinic the Acupuncture Center of New York it was important that every thing be respectable, proper, perfectly above-board. This is important because of the skepticism that many Americans still feel about the ancient Chinese curing art.

Dr. Yao Wu Lee, standing over Don Lamond's acupunctured hip. The treatment by the new method.

Dr. Yao Wu Lee, standing over Don Lamond’s acupunctured hip. The treatment by the new method.

Although acupuncture has become a great fad here ever since this country’s recent discovery of China (Julie Christie has reportedly been photographed during acupuncture for Vogue) there are still some holdouts, some people who have difficulty believing that sticking long thin needles into a person’s arm or leg will relieve migraine headaches, backaches arthritis, sciatica, duodenal ulcers, asthma and acne.

Well to ease these doubts, the new Acupuncture Center yesterday introduced several previously acupunctured patients and invited them to talk about their cures. One of the patients, the Rev. Norman Catir of Manhattan s famous Little Church Around the Corner. A balding, heavy set man wearing a clerical collar, the Rev. Mr. Catir decided to try acupuncture on a whim.

“I had suffered from indigestion,” he said There was a stiffness in my legs. There were pains in my head and a loss of memory. I’ve had a great deal of difficulty remembering things for several years now.”
The rector’s treatment was not exactly an aesthetically appealing process. To treat his headaches and memory problems he had one needle inserted directly into the top of his cranium and two additional needles inserted beneath each ear. The results however were nothing short of miraculous. The Rev. Mr. Catir was asked how many treatments it required to clear up his headaches and memory problems.
Well I m try rig to remember exactly,” he faltered, then quickly recovered I had three treatments on the head.”

All things considered yesterday’s formal introduction of acupuncture to New York was a smashing success. One can not easily imagine a more dramatic presentation than the one engineered by Dr. Arnold Benson, the soft spoken internist who is directing the new center. Benson does not want anyone to think this will be a quack operation.

W e’re opening up a medical center here, he said. As part of this center, we will practice acupuncture when applicable . . . I believe that acupuncture is a science. If it has validity, it should be made available.”
Benson, 40, a graduate of New York Medical College, said that the actual insertions would be done by his team of four Chinese acupuncturist. Some of the reporters did not fully understand the mechanics of the process precisely how
it worked. Benson was asked for a scientific explanation.

“There are many practices in medicine that are poorly understood,” he said.
The explanations of the process generally refer to “points of stimulation” and “lines of energy” and perhaps the most sound explanations is found in an ancient Chinese text. The Nei Ching . This is the way of acupuncture. If a man’s vitaliy and energy do not propel his own will, his disease cannot be cured.”

One of the acupunctured patients, Don Lamond volunteered to demonstrate the new medical technique. He had been undergoing the treatment for several weeks for ‘osteo arthritis of the left hip.” Lamond removed his trousers and stretched out on the operating table. And as television cameras jockeyed for position, one of the acupuncturists descended on Lamond with a set of needles not to be believed .

She rubbed cotton over a small section of Lamond’s left buttock, selected one of the long slender needles. and calmly twisted it four inches into the man’s hip.

“Does that hurt?” he was asked.
“That’s fine” Lamond said. “No sweat.”
Already the woman was moving to a new site, this one on the left leg. A third needle was inserted into the calf. The fourth went in several inches below the kneecap. The fifth was inserted beside the fourth and the sixth near the first.

As this was going on, the new center’s Chinese director. Dr. Yao Wu Lee began to demonstrate his newly invented Gattegno Meter an electronic device not entirely unlike a Geiger counter and used to locate the acupuncture target areas on the body. If I understood this correctly, and I did, the machine would begin to make strange cheep-cheep-cheep cheep noises whenever it approached one of the 720 natural acupuncture points on the body. The machine also had six meters and a light.
This is transistorized Dr. Lee said. “Also, it has batteries.”

At this point I began to sense that the new Acupuncture could not possible fail. We are a naturally curious people who have always been responsive to medical innovation, particularly if it is associated with a machine that has six meters, a green light and goes cheep-cheep- cheep-cheep.