by Michael Rusoff
Acupuncture is alive and well in Washington. The previous Acupuncture Center of New York has now moved here lock-stock-and-barrel, full of needles and moxa, from New York City.
Opening in December 1 it is the only major place in America which presently offers acupuncture treatment to the general public. Only in Washington, D.C. is the art of acupuncture granted a license to use this ancient Oriental form of medicine.
The Acupuncture Center is the combined efforts of three dedicated men. Dr. Arnold Benson, M.D. a specialist of internal medicine, lends medical status and his knowledge of Eastern Medicine. He first learned about acupuncture while serving as an Army doctor in Asia from 1962-1964. Returning to private practice in New York City his interest in Oriental medicine grew. There and in California he observed
acupuncturists performing secretly .
‘Acupuncture is filling a void which has existed,” says Dr. Benson, ‘ especially with chronic disorders and pain.”
The Acupuncture Center “ejects patients with certain conditions.
These include diabetes, thyroid disease, infections, blindness, epilepsy, cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, obesity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and such uncertain conditions as abdominal pain or heart pains and cancer. The reason is that while acupuncture may help with some of these cases, they involve long-term treatment and have the greater risk of complications (especially due to the wide assortment of drugs these persons are usually taking).
As Dr. Benson puts it, “Since our Interest is to promote acupuncture, it would be foolish to handle those with only 5% success rare.” The conditions with a high success rate by acupuncture treatment are arthritis, all forms of pain, headaches (including migraines), bursitis, tendonitis, neuritis, paralysis, nerve deafness, strokes with paralysis, Parkinson’s disease (a nerve disorder). and multiple sclerosis and shingles. In this group the rate of effective improvement ranges from 60-80% Working closely with Dr. Benson Is Dr. Yao-Wu Lee, director of the center. A native of mainland China,. Dr. Lee’s contribution to the science of acupuncture is the Acu-Meter. This is a precision electronic apparatus which can locate each acupuncture point on the body. The meter works on the Idea that the electrical potential on the surface of the human body is variable.
When an acupuncture point is touched, it registers a higher value of electrical potential and also makes a buzzing sound.
“The ideal is to modernize and instrumentalize the old Chinese medicine,” says Mr. Lee “so that the Western physicians can learn and study the old Chinese medicine.”
The assistants at the Center help the patient prepare for treatment and note the time of insertion of the needles and for how long they are to remain. After the needles are removed they burn some ai (mugwort) in a small tea strainer, and apply on the skin where the needles were. . Considering that the Acupuncture Center is presently handling slightly more than 150 patients per day there is a great deal of ai burned so much that immediately upon getting off
the elevator one knows he is on the right floor, the distinctive sweet smell is totally pervasive It seems to have smoothing calming effect.
People are calling from all over the country. From as far West as Chicago and Texas; from Florida and Louisiana in the South and Boston and Toronto in the North. Literally hundreds of phone calls come in each day.
The people who come to us are rejects or hopeless cases from “Western medicine,” says Mr. Charles Newmark, Administrator for the Center. Most are people who have experienced extreme pain due to arthritis, etc., some for as many as twenty or thirty years. Almost without exception, they have been taking pain-killers of one prescription or another with little helpful effect. What they have heard or read about acupuncture leads them, aided by their desire for a happier life, to expect something close to a miracle. Each has been told that there is neither a guarantee of success nor any way to tell how they as individuals will react to the treatment or for how long the effects will last. Yet they want to come and find out for themselves. Most are patient enough, having four to six treatments before passing judgment. Many have noticeable changes by this time.