Distal Point Acupuncture: It’s What We Do

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

At GoodMedizen, we practice a style of treatment called “distal point acupuncture.” This style might be very different from what you have experienced at different clinics or how you imagine acupuncture to work. The purpose of this article is to help you understand not only what distal point acupuncture is, but why we use it for nearly all of our treatments.

In a nutshell, distal point acupuncture is the placement of acupuncture needles far away from, or distal to, the part of the body being treated. Let’s look at back pain for example. If you have pain in the right side of your low back, we will not place any needles in your back. Instead, we will likely place two to four needles in your left hand and another needle in your right foot. And that’s it. The treatments are quick, utilize a minimum number of needles, and—best of all—are often extraordinarily effective.

Distal point acupuncture offers many advantages, including:

  • Better treatment outcomes;

  • Rapid symptom resolution, often immediate;

  • Fewer needles;

  • Far less likely to aggravate the problem;

  • Patient can usually remain fully clothed; and

  • Results are long-lasting.

Distal point acupuncture also is known as “Tan Style Acupuncture,” “Tung Style Acupuncture,” or “Balance Method Acupuncture.” We choose to use “distal point acupuncture” because it succinctly captures what we do and because we are using the teachings of both Richard Tan and Master Tung (see below).

History of Distal Point Acupuncture

Acupuncture has a long and complicated history, with many variations and schools of thought evolving over several millennia. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the form of acupuncture most often taught in American acupuncture schools. TCM is actually a relatively “new” branch on the acupuncture and Chinese medicine tree, a tree that has been ravaged and nearly destroyed by the political upheavals of 20th century China. The Association of Traditional Studies provides a great evolution of TCM here.

During the communist revolution, much of Acupuncture’s rich history was lost because its best practitioners and scholars fled, were jailed, or were killed. Fortunately, one skilled acupuncturist escaped China and fled to Taiwan. That practitioner was Master Tung Ching Chang. Thankfully, while in Taiwan, Master Tung (pronounced Dong) took on several students and published a small collection of books documenting his extraordinary system of acupuncture. From those students and materials, a seed was planted that has continued to grow and is now bearing fruit around the world. Learn more about Master Tung and his lineage in the United States on TungsPoints.com.

My First Experience with Distal Point Acupuncture

I graduated from Bastyr University in December 2007 and almost immediately began working as a resident, teacher, and clinical instructor at the school. In April 2008, just four months after graduation, I attended a three-day seminar of Dr. Richard Tan’s “Balance Method” style of acupuncture. Much of what Dr. Tan taught was completely foreign to what I had spent the past three-and-a-half years studying—but much of what he said resonated as truth.