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.
November 2023 Issue Editorial
The Teishin Revolution
We are blessed to live in interesting times. It feels as if our world is transitioning to something new, that we are
collectively moving onto novel terrain. As throughout history, in times of flux like this, something revolutionary and
groundbreaking often arises – perhaps in art, music, medicine, politics, or science. However, what we discuss in this
NAJOM issue is the arrival of something 2,000 years old: the teishin. This humble tool has put a new face on the
practice of acupuncture, but it is ancient – as we can read in the Ling Shu chapters 1, 7, 78, describing the nine types
of classical needles.
Buckminster Fuller long ago predicted where we would end up. In his research into nature’s organizing principles Fuller
discovered what he at times called ephemeralization, and other times morewithlessing – the attempt to accomplish ever
more with ever less input. His claim was that this is how nature works. All professional fields have been on this
ephemeralized trajectory. We see it clearly in the computer industry, where our smart phones possess more computing
power now than the first room-sized machines. Doing more with less.
Everywhere we see industries and professions managing to accomplish a lot with a little. Surgical techniques,
manufacturing, logistics, and now acupuncture. Looking back 20 years, needle techniques are generally gentler, more
superficial, as are many styles of palpation and bodywork. The teishin fits perfectly into this pattern of ephemeralization.
We see this dramatically illustrated in Shudo Denmei Sensei’s writings over the past 30 years. His 1990 Introduction to
Classical Japanese Meridian Therapy describes 30-40mm needle insertions. His contemporary SRT approach reflects
essentially a contact-needling technique; deeper insertions are rarer.
Shudo Sensei elegantly describes dealing with deficiency in modern life. Patients were once more robust from work in
fields and factories. Now fast foods, sedentary life, insomnia, internet excesses, and a faster pace are leading to
profound cultural and environmental changes. And our medicine must adjust to the needs of the time. Humanity is
physically weaker; even the strongest laborers depend on bulldozers and forklifts rather than brute force. Modern
stresses are more neuro-emotional than musculoskeletal, and gentle teishin techniques on the surface help regulate the
embryological continuity of the skin and nervous system.
Always in East Asian Medicine we see yin and yang. It is important to keep in mind these are not opposites. Yin is
forever in an inter-complementary, inter-transforming dance with yang. We have this understanding from our best
sinologists. Yin is not dark and yang light in the sense of darkness as the absence of light. Yin is just less light than
yang. This is key as we look at teishin styles, which come in a wide variety of stimulation gradations, some of which are
easy to characterize as yin, and some as yang.
Overall, this movement toward the gentle has to be seen as a movement toward the yin. Gentle here can mean a
contact weight of 5 grams, more typical of Toyohari or Dr Bear’s style. That is truly ephemeral, to use Buckminster
Fuller’s word. But we never encounter pure yin in nature. Where then is the yang in this newly emerging world of the
teishin? Jeffrey Dann’s fascially-oriented teishin/enshin technique, that draws inspiration from osteopathy’s idea of
“stacking,” utilizes the three-dimensional nature of tissues and involves real physical pressure, although still quite
comfortable to the receiver. This makes it relatively yang in nature when compared to a few grams of contact pressure.
In recent years NAJOM has featured Dr Hiroshi Nagata’s PNST system. I (BQ) have studied at his clinic in Wakayama
and can attest his clinical work is impressive. He does not call his tool a teishin, but others might. It is a bit heavier,
fatter, and longer than most teishin, but he is working on the surface of the skin just as teishin masters do. His clinical
thinking is oriented to the nervous system, not the acupuncture channel system, but his PNST technique delivers
remarkable results, and though more heavier handed than we’d expect from a Japanese Meridian Therapy practitioner,
it is still easily tolerated. On the yin-yang teishin spectrum, one would place him clearly in the realm of the yang.
Our special teishin-focused NAJOM issue reveals the diversity of approaches possible with this unassuming classical
tool. Buckle up as we explore the strange new but ancient world of the teishin.
And then, please consider our NAJOM 90/March 2024, 30th Anniversary Issue theme: What Is a Meridian? (deadline:
January 1, 2024, but send your proposals now). For details, check our website and emailed announcements.
Jeffrey Dann and Bob Quinn