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What is Saam acupuncture and basic theory of the Saam acupuncture?

Summarized and modified by Westwood Acupuncture and Herbalism

Saam acupuncture, which is one of the original therapeutic modalities representing traditional Korean medicine, is a unique treatment method that has a different origin than the modalities from China and Japan.

The basic characteristic of combining five shu points in Saam acupuncture is the selection of the tonification and sedation points along the self-meridian and other meridians based on creation and governor relationships. In China, five element acupuncture, tonification, and sedation points along only the self-meridian are selected.

Saam acupuncture is based on the traditional concepts of yin-yang, five elements, Zang Fu (viscera and bowels), qi, and meridians. Saam acupuncture treatment cannot be separated from these viewpoints. In particular, it involves the application of five shu points according to the creation and control cycles of the five-element theory. Therefore, the combination of acupoints in Saam is easier to understand from the perspective of traditional medicine.

The meridian is divided into three parts: the arm or foot, three yin and yang, and six Zang Fu parts. A total of 24 deficiency and excess symptoms, with 24 coldness and fire symptoms, exist across the 12 meridians, but the diagnostic criteria related to these symptoms are too ambiguous for selecting a correct meridian. Except for the regular 48-treatment protocol, the treatment strategies are variable. Efforts were made to produce Saam treatments that are more effective by including other acupoints, with the main points firmly based on the regular pattern.

Benefits that a patient can expects from Saam acupuncture over the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are:

  1. Using smaller and thinner acupuncture needle, and a patient feels less pain and more comfortable during sessions.
  2. Total acupuncture needle for session is a lot less than TCM.
  3. Saam acupuncture uses acupuncture points located below elbow and knee. For treatment, patients only need to take off his/her shoes and one shock.
  4. The most important benefit from Saam acupuncture is take less time per session and gives a lot strong treatment effect to patient.

The Basic Theory of Combining Five Shu Points in Saam Acupuncture

The following phrase is taken from the 69th chapter of Nanjing: “In the case of depletion, fill the respective mother, in the case of repletion, drain the respective child, one must fill the first and then drain afterward.” Gao-Wu, of the Ming Dynasty of China (1519 A.D.), was the first acupuncturist to describe the use of tonification and sedation points along the self-meridian by using the five shu points according to the 69th issue of Nan-Jing. Zhang Shi Xian advocated the use of five shu points in other meridians in Jiao Zheng Tu Zhu Nan Jing. On the basis of Gao-Wu and Zhang Shi Xian treatment, Saam added the role of the governor. This notion originated from the 50th and 75th chapters of Nan-Jing.

In Saam acupuncture, the relationship with the governor is important, as is the relationship between the mother and son. The governor is sedated under the condition of deficiency and is tonified under the condition of excess.

The basic rules are those of the creation and governor relationships. In the case of insufficiency of any meridian, the mother points of its mother and its own meridians should be tonified and the governor points of its governor and its own meridians should be sedated. For example, the following is applied if the lung meridian is diagnosed as deficient: earth tonification, lung meridian-earth point LU9 and spleen

meridian-earth point SP3 and fire sedation, lung meridian fire point LU10, and heart meridian-fire point HT8. The other meridians follow the same rule, as described above.

In the case of the excess of any meridians, the governor points of its governor and its own meridians should be tonified and the son points of its son and its own meridians should be sedated. For example, the following is applied if the lung meridian is diagnosed to be excessive: fire tonification, lung meridian-fire point LU10, and heart meridian-fire point HT8 and water sedation, lung meridian-water point LU5, and kidney meridian-water point KI10.

Another simple but rarely used one is coldness-fire acupuncture treatment derived from the deficiency-excess acupuncture treatment. For cold symptoms, the fire points of its own and the fire meridians are tonified and the Water points of its own and the water meridians are sedated. For heat symptoms, the water points of its own and the water meridians are tonified and the fire points of its own and the fire meridians are sedated.

Among the clinical case studies of Saam, 85% used either a tonification or a sedation formula, whereas 15% used variations of the tonification and the sedation formulae. Saam treatment primarily focuses on the viewpoints of deficiency-excess symptoms rather than cold-heat symptoms.

The original article was published on Hindawi Publishing Corporation Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2015, Article ID 703439, 8 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/703439

The authors of the article are Manyong Park, Wonkwang University Korean Medical Hospital, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Gwangju, Republic of Korea, and Sungchul Kim, ALS Center of Wonkwang University Korean Medical Hospital Gwangju, Republic of Korea.

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