The origins of scientific meridian evaluation

In spite of difficulties in working with the subtle force of Chi, modern-day practitioners and researchers keep on progressing in their evaluation and treatment of the acupuncture meridians. One of the most distinguished contributors in this field was a Japanese physician Yoshio Nakatani, MD, PhD, who originally developed in the 1950’s a method of examining the acupuncture meridian system through evaluation of the electrical conductivity of the skin. Up until that time the technology had not existed to make such an objective and reproducible determination of this intangible energy. Indeed, there had been growing widespread controversy over how best to decide on what points to treat, which had produced widely differing schools of thought regarding point preferences. Because of these concerns, Dr. Nakatani’s system was poised to rapidly change the way acupuncture was practiced throughout the modern world. Referred to as Ryadoraku, it would become internationally popular within 25 years.

Dr Ron performing an Electro Meridian Imaging (EMI) evaluation
Ron Henry on EMI

Dr. Nakatani’s system involved measuring electrical conductivity of the skin at the Source points, key acupuncture points located on the wrists and ankles, said to reflect the level of vitality flowing through the meridians as a whole. Although this measurement does not offer the same information as provided by classical pulse diagnosis (which unfortunately can also be highly inaccurate and subjective), it does, however, determine whether a meridian is excess or deficient in relation to the entire meridian system, which probably is the single most important factor pertaining to the channels themselves.*

Ryadoraku becomes Electro Meridian Imaging

EMI graphic courtesy of Dr. John Amaro and the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture
EMI graphic courtesy of Dr. John Amaro, IAMA

The term Electro Meridian Imaging was later coined by a chiropractic physician John Amaro (considered by many to be one of the most well-trained acupuncturists in America today) early in the 1980’s, after having studied with Dr. Nakatani a decade earlier. In 1973, as a neophyte who had only recently begun practicing acupuncture, Dr. Amaro experienced that Ryadoraku allowed him to perform at a level closer to an accomplished master. By establishing a normal range for each patient, based on their individual meridian readings, he observed that Ryadoraku clearly showed essential information regarding which channels were energetically involved – knowledge not easily accessible in any other way. Having used Dr. Nakatani’s system in his practice of acupuncture for almost 10 years, he concluded that it was absolutely essential for obtaining an accurate diagnosis of the acupuncture meridians, and eventually felt the necessity to make this technology widely available to others.

To further increase both the ease of analysis and the effectiveness in diagnosing the meridians, Dr. Amaro eventually went on to develop a computerized system based on Nakatani’s work. In Dr. Amaro’s own words, “One of the most exciting applications of Electro Meridian Imaging is without question the computer enhanced version. The entire procedure with the computer takes less than 2 minutes to perform, and the information derived is landmark. Clinical response using this diagnostic procedure is legendary.”

In EMI a digital electrical device known as a neurometer uses a constant low voltage of only 12V to measure the electrical conductivity of the skin. The patient is asked to hold a copper ground in one hand, while a moistened electrode tip is applied to the selected test points to locate the areas of lowered electrical resistance. A greater current flowing through the skin at these test points indicates their correct location, and gives readings between 0 and the maximum of 200 micro amps, represented graphically on a computer screen.

An important aspect of EMI is its reliability and reproducibility, as it can be duplicated from one practitioner to the next. Easy to learn and simple to explain to the patient, EMI permits the channel evaluation to be displayed on a computer screen as well as to be printed out. It allows the practitioner to keep a permanent record of each patient’s meridian readings, and to compare them, if necessary, at each visit. Based on the insights gained through EMI, the practitioner can proceed with performing either traditional or needle-less therapy.*

  • Text is taken from Quantum Acupuncture – The Next Level by Ron Henry.