Forgotten features of head zones and their relation to diagnostically relevant acupuncture points

  • In the 1890s Sir Henry Head discovered certain areas of the skin that develop tenderness (allodynia) in the course of visceral disease. These areas were later termed ‘Head zones’. In addition, he also emphasized the existence of specific points within these zones, that he called ‘maximum points’, a finding that seems to be almost forgotten today. We hypothesized that two important groups of acupuncture points, the diagnostically relevant Mu and Shu points, spatially and functionally coincide with these maximum points to a large extent. A comparison of Head's papers with the Huang Di Neijing (Yellow Thearch's Inner Classic) and the Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), two of the oldest still extant Chinese sources on acupuncture, revealed astonishing parallels between the two concepts regarding both point locations and functional aspects. These findings suggest that the Chinese discovery of viscerocutaneous reflexes preceded the discovery in the West by more than 2000 years. Furthermore, the fact that Chinese medicine uses Mu and Shu points not only diagnostically but also therapeutically may give us new insights into the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture.

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Author:Florian Beißner, Christian Henke, Paul U. Unschuld
Pubmed Id:
Parent Title (English):Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine
Place of publication:New York, NY
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2009/06/17
Year of first Publication:2011
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2009/06/17
Tag:acupuncture; chinese medicine; dermatomes; head zones; history of medicine; pain; referred pain; reflexes; viscero-cutaneous
Issue:Article ID 240653
Page Number:8
First Page:1
Last Page:7
Copyright © 2011 Florian Beissner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Source:Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, eCAM ; doi:10.1093/ecam/nen088
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0