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A case study of Insomnia treated by Master Lu Shouyan (陆瘦燕)

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1. About Master Lu Shouyan

Lu Shouyan (1909-1969), a famous acupuncturist in China and overseas, started to learn medicine from his father Li Pei-qing (a distinguished acupuncturist) at the age of 16, and started to practice medicine in Shanghai when he was 18. Later on, he created the “New-China Acupuncture Research Association” and acupuncture correspondence course. After the 1950s, he hosted positions including director of acupuncture department, Shanghai College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, director of acupuncture department, Longhua Hospital, director of Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian, and director of Shanghai Municipal Acupuncture Association. His works included Illustrated Meridians, Overview of Acupuncture Points, Collections of Needling Techniques, and Illustrations of Acupuncture Points, along with 22 papers ​(Lu, Liu, and Huang 2008)​.

2. Insomnia Case

Mr Li, 33 years old suffered the difficulty to fall asleep over 6 months, worsened for last month. He presented with vertigo, tinnitus, bitter taste in the mouth, restlessness, lower back pain, and emission, red tongue body, less coating, and thin and fast pulse. He was diagnosed as the disconnection between the heart and kidney and treated under the therapeutic principle of supplementing water to restrain fire and connecting the heart and kidney.


3.1 First treatment

Points: BL15, BL23, HT7 and SP6.

Manipulation: BL15 was reduced with three small moxibustion cones. The rest points were supplemented with thrusting and withdrawing. The needles were removed after the patient felt Deqi.

3.2 Second Visit

The patient could sleep better but also be wakened. The rest symptoms had been improved. The patient showed red tongue body and thin pulse. The same principle was followed.

Points: BL14, BL23, HT7, SP6, PC6, KI6

Manipulation: BL14 was reduced with 3 small moxibustion cones. The rest points were punctured.

3.3 Third Visit

The patient could sleep much better had more energy. The dizziness tinnitus, thirst, restlessness and emission disappeared. The patient only felt slight fatigue, and lower back pain and showed red tongue body, thin pulse. The same principle was followed.

Pints: PC6, HT7, SP6, BL20, ST36, KI3

Manipulation: PC6 and HT7 were reduced but the rest supplemented with thrusting and withdrawing. The needles were removed after the patient felt Deqi.

3.3 Commentary

Lu Shouyan combined the moxibustion and acupuncture treatment to reconnect the heart and kidney. BL15 and BL14 were reduced with moxibustion cones. The reducing of moxibustion was performed by blowing the out the fire which had burnt half of the cone. BL23 and SP6 generated water to balance the fire. HT7 drains the heart fire. In the third treatment, moxibustion was no longer used and BL20 and ST36 were added to invigorate the spleen and stomach and generate blood to supply the heart Shen.

Lu, Yan-yao, Li-gong Liu, and Qin-feng Huang. 2008. “Introduction to LU Shou-Yan’s Acupuncture Theory.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, December, 16–20.

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