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Answer To Brain Disorders Could Be On The Tip Of The Tongue

HONG KONG – (dpa) – Dr Sun Jieguang stings patients’ tongues like a bee with a hair-thin iron needle. It takes him less than a minute to complete each treatment yet the waiting list to see him is almost a year long.

But then Dr Sun is in great demand. The Hong Kong doctor is the world’s leading pioneer in the field of tongue acupuncture, being the first person to have mapped out the acupoints on the tongue.

He is involved in a ground-breaking research project which hopes to prove that the answer to many brain disorders could be on the tip of your tongue – literally.

In the past 20 years, Dr Sun has mapped out 40 acupuncture points – acupoints – on the tongue. These, he claims, are linked to the meridians of the body which carry vital energy to the limbs, bones and the heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney.

His theory on brain disorders rests with a point located on the tip of the tongue which is connected to the heart. Stimulate the heart through this particular acupoint and you will in turn increase the blood supply to the brain, helping it function more effectively and in turn overcoming symptoms caused by brain disfunctions.

So far he has treated around 10,000 people in China with conditions ranging from strokes, autism, Parkinson disease and other neurological-related conditions. He claims that up to 96 per cent showed signs of significant improvement after between 20 and 40 sessions.

Now he has turned his attention to treating patients in Hong Kong in a bid to gather more scientific data to prove his theory. Working with the University of Hong Kong since 1999, he has conducted clinical trials on tongue acupuncture’s effectiveness at the Jockey Club Magnetic Resonance Imaging Engineering Centre.

He also conducted research in Chinese medicine at the University of Columbia from 1997 to 1999 in the U.S.

Dr Sun trained and worked as a Western-style doctor for 20 years before turning to Chinese medicine in 1984. He says he did so out of frustration over the limitations of Western medicine. At the time he was working in a rehabilitation centre in Liaoling, a northern province in China, treating patients with neurological disorders.

“I was full of regret and feeling destitute when I began my research 20 years ago because I had come across so many patients with diseases which Western medicine could not cure and it really upset me.”

The tongue, he claimed, was a logical place to start because of the role observation of the tongue plays in diagnosis in Chinese medicine.

“Checking the tongue is a very important step of observation which helps make diagnosis, as it can reflect the condition of different parts of the body. So I thought I should cure my patients starting from the tongue, ” he said.

About 300 patients are involved in his clinical study in Hong Kong as are hundreds more at a sister research centre in Guangzhou, China, headed by Dr Sun’s 29-year-old son who learnt tongue acupuncture from his father.

Last year he began treating people at the newly-opened Tongue Acupuncture Research Clinic in Hong Kong and currently treats 60 patients a day – mostly children suffering a variety of health problems related to brain disorders.

When 5-year-old Bobby Yeung Hoi-chi walked into Dr Sun’s clinic last November he could hardly walk. Bobby was born with muscular atrophy – a disorder affecting the area of the brain which controls his muscles causing them to waste-away.

“He couldn’t write characters we could understand or walk without shaking and falling all the time,” said his mother Winnie Lee Mui.

After about 15 sessions of tongue acupuncture by Dr Sun, the five year old began to show signs of improvement. Three months later, he could walk and use a pair of chopsticks, said his mother.

“Now his handwriting is so improved it is praised by the teacher. He even enjoys the physical education lessons that he used to avoid,” she added.

Another convert is the family of 12-year-old Tam Ka-ho who was blind in his left eye as a result of brain disfunction. He was in danger of losing the sight in his right eye but after 50 sessions of acupuncture, began to see again with his left eye.

Dr Sun knows that many in the medical profession would only be too willing to dismiss tongue acupuncture which is one of the reason he has chosen so far to keep his work in the family.

He believes he needs hard statistics and research to back up his theories before going public with the 40 acupuncture points he claims to have discovered on the tongue. As a result there is currently only himself and his son working in this field.

But the time he spent researching in the U.S. has paid off in that his work is now partially recognised in the West and he’s already won the support of some Western-medicine practitioners in Hong Kong.

Professor Virginia Wong Chun-nei, head of the Child Neurology and Developmental Paediatrics Department at Hong Kong University has referred several of her “incurable” patients on to Dr Sun.

“All the patients Dr Sun are treating are labelled as “incurable” in the western medical field,” she said.

Dr Sun said, “I believe tongue acupuncture has the potential to cure many other diseases. “But it is still under study. It is not magic and it cannot cure all illnesses of course.”

Six-year-old Cheung Chung-yeung suffers from autism and has had regular sessions with Dr Sun’s needle for three months.

In a letter he wrote about himself he said, “I could only say ma and pa before I went to see Dr Sun but now I am learning to speak more by listening to others. My fingers used to disobey me but now I can control them and do what I want to do.”

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