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Our Mission


The North American Journal of Oriental Medicine (NAJOM) is a non-profit worldwide forum for the promotion and development of Japanese approaches to Oriental medicine. Our goal is to facilitate networking among practitioners and inspire them to deepen their knowledge and refine their skills.


How NAJOM carries out its mission

We publish both paper and PDF versions of the journal, with all articles available in both English and Japanese. As an international and multi-disciplinary publication, NAJOM does not uphold a particular approach or viewpoint, but our aim is to foster the growth and refinement of Oriental medicine grounded in skilled touch. With due respect for all traditions and perspectives of Oriental medicine, NAJOM pursues this aim by highlighting the theories and practices of traditional Japanese medicine, including Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion, kampo (herbology), shiatsu, anma, and do-in, which emphasize the vital role of touch in healing.
Having developed over more than a thousand years, traditional Japanese medicine is an amalgamation of numerous approaches, innovations, and interpretations. Now practiced around the world, it continues to evolve to suit the unique environment and needs of each region. NAJOM seeks to contribute to the development of Oriental medicine in North America by making more information available on traditional Japanese practices and how they are being applied today.

July 2024 Issue Editorial


What is an Acupoint?

Does asking “What is an acupoint?” imply that after more than 2,000 years, we still don’t know what one is? 

Modern acupuncture training begins with the simple premise that there are acupoints. Each one has a name, number and precise location as measured from a landmark on the body. As students, our task is to memorize these. As fledgling practitioners, we can only hope that not too long after we obtain our licence (allowing us to put a needle into an acupoint), we will figure out what an acupoint actually is, where it really is, and what to do with it.  


Our endeavour in this issue of NAJOM is not so much to define acupoints and their uses as to create a “reservoir” of insights into them. 


It’s a group effort, possible because of the type of dialogue NAJOM can facilitate. Our contributors from around the world represent many approaches to acupuncture, moxibustion, and shiatsu. Each draws from decades of clinical practice, research into the classics, and the courage to articulate their observations. 

Takahashi Hideo starts us off with a simple fact: “There is more to [acupoints] than our first encounters might suggest.” In working with the Mubun-style dashin technique he now teaches, he has come to see acupoints as “windows” where regular ki and pathogenic ki dynamically co-exist. “Because jaki is more obvious to us than regular qi, we can sense its activity better.”

Takahashi and Bob Quinn are both clear that the term “points,” not used in the earliest medical texts, is misleading. Quinn explains that the body “emits” a signal – “subtle” information,“ but not as subtle as you might  imagine” – from areas needing attention. Thomas Sorensen chooses the term tsubo, which he sees as an expression of kyo, another signal of sorts. Bart Walton sees the skin as key to the mystery of acupoints and meridians. But, he says, “if you ask 10 acupuncturists what they mean by these terms, you’re likely to get 10 very different answers.” 

Reading closely, nonetheless, we can see much overlap in how influential members of our profession describe what acupoints are, and where they are. So then, we ask, what do we do with them? 

It turns out our contributors have much to say about how we can use our palpatory and sensory findings to develop ever more effective treatments. We leave it to you, our readers, to find their common ground, and also the brilliant deviations some have taken. Murata Morihiro offers an annotated selection of Shudo-style points. Ikai Yoshio describes the benefits of not only warming treatment points, but also of cooling them. Pamela Ferguson brings the wisdom of shiatsu into the conversation, reiterating that it’s basically “malpractice to needle without bodywork.” Kubota Naoki and Fujimoto Shinpu share methods developed by their respective Ishizaka and Hokushin-kai schools, as does Takahashi Daiki in Part 27 of his engaging Shakuju Therapy series.

In many regards, this issue is an extension of our last issue (NAJOM 90) focusing on meridians, and here we have continuations of three important articles by Katai Shuichi, Anthony Todd and Togasaki Masao. Combining meridians and points, Shinohara Shoji’s fascinating study uses a motor-function evaluation device to confirm the locations of specific acupoints on specific meridians. And Merlin Young presents a Darwinian resolution to discrepancies he sees in how the Chinese classics explain qi flow in meridian pathways.

Last but not least, in addition to the 10,000 things Mizutani Sensei does to bring every issue of NAJOM right to our doorstep, he has gifted us with a user-friendly treasury of “special effect points” most suitable for moxibustion.

Furthermore, he has taken this issue’s theme as an opportunity to survey NAJOM’s entire membership about its use of acupoints. “I wanted to get an overview of what we are thinking and doing.” His 17 questions range from what points do we most often use, to how do we choose our treatment points and assess their efficacy. 

“Everyone who sent me their answers is a very experienced practitioner,” Mizutani says. Shudo Denmei and Ikeda Sensei among them, “are always seeking something new for their approaches, endlessly learning. What I see is how varied the practice of Oriental medicine is – almost free-style – compared to Western medicine, which tends to be more text based.” The survey answers will be translated, tabulated and ready to share with you before our next issue. 

Meanwhile, please consider our November 2024 issue (#92) theme: Treatments for Musculoskeletal Pain (neck and shoulders, knees and back; pain caused by osteoarthritis or RA, tendonitis, frozen shoulder, sprains and injuries). What methods and approaches do you use? Deadline: September 1.


Best wishes for the summer,

Cheryl Coull, editor

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