Flora-2 and Acupuncture

Written by on November 21, 2018 in Acupuncture, Flora-2, Knowledge Representation, Programming with 0 Comments

In my previous post I gave examples of modeling homeopathy remedies using Flora-2. Today I want to show an example from a completely different domain namely, Acupuncture.

Acupuncture is an ancient system of Chinese medicine and is practised in many countries. It is based on the principle that our body has several meridians, which are pathways for the Vital Energy (Qi) to flow. Any obstruction in the pathways could cause imbalance in the system, resulting in functional derangement of one or more organs that are interconnected via the meridians. By inserting fine needles at select points on the meridians, and manipulating them, it is possible to restore proper flow of Qi and thus restore health. 

Towards the end of this article, I have included a list of good books to read for those who want to learn more about acupuncture.

What is interesting to me is that irrespective of the domain, Flora-2 allows us to model key abstractions elegantly. Of course, as in any high-level programming language, we have a variety of devices at our disposal, and it is for us to choose the appropriate one. One could use Frames, Predicates, Rules, User Defined Functions, and so on. I am sure, with experience, the selection and use of suitable constructs will become second nature.   

Let us start with the 12 organs and relate them to the Five Elements and Yin and Yang:

Five Elements

Five Elements

Yin and Yang have certain natural traits. The following figure shows just a few important ones.

Yin and Yang Traits

Yin and Yang Traits

The five elements namely, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water are involved in a cycle of relationship in terms of promoting and controlling one another.

Five Element Inter-relationship

Five Element Inter-relationship

The above knowledge plays a role while selecting the points to stimulate. For example, if a Metal organ is weak, we might stimulate an associated Earth point since that promotes Metal. Likewise, if a Fire organ is in excess state, we might stimulate an associated Water point to reduce the Fire.

Acupuncture talks of 12 organs in the body. Let us model Lung (Metal, Yin) and Kidney (Water, Yin).

Lung and Kidney

Lung and Kidney

I have only captured some basic (but important) traits of these organs. There is a lot more to them. You can see that Lung is most active from 3 am to 5 am and is least active from 3 pm to 5 pm. One view is that if an ailment is severe between 3 am and 5 am, there is a chance that Lung might be affected. Again, this is a gross simplification and doesn’t do justice to the highly detailed process of case taking and diagnosis usually followed by acupuncturists.

You can also see that the different organs have corresponding mental traits as well as a primary emotion. Likewise, each organ is related to certain key needling points that can help stimulate or reduce its activity.

The organs have a number of points that lie along the meridians. For example, Lung has 11 points, Kidney has 21, Triple Warmer has 23, and so on. In my model, lu_1 denotes Lung-1 point, k_3 denotes Kidney-3 point, etc. The exact location of these points on the human anatomy is clearly specified in the books, so the acupuncturist knows where to place the needle once he decides that the point k_3, for example, needs to be stimulated (or reduced). Some points are contraindicated in certain situations; for instance, sp_6 (Spleen-6) is contraindicated in pregnancy. Thus acupuncture treatment is highly individualised (similar to homeopathy).

Here is a brief description of a few points:

Some Acupuncture Points

Some Acupuncture Points

The above shows that the point lu_1 is part of Lung organ, and can be considered for needling when the patient suffers from cough, wheezing, etc. Similarly, k_7 is part of Kidney and is a potential candidate for needling when the problem is oedema, menorrhagia, etc. Remember, these are only crude indications; many other steps are involved before deciding on the suitable set of points to needle in a session.

Three-Needle Therapy

Some oriental acupuncturists follow a simplified protocol, where they use just three needles for a given ailment. This is called Sanzhen therapy or Three-needle therapy. I have tried to model this for just 3 ailments below:

Sanzhen Therapy

Sanzhen Therapy

The above says that when one suffers from Bronchitis, perhaps with Asthma, it might be worth needling UrinaryBladder points 11, 12 and 13 together.

I gave the above example of Sanzhen therapy only to show the different kinds of knowledge that we can model in Flora-2, and not to recommend this approach as the best.

That is all about the model itself. Let us now load this into Flora-2 engine and pose some queries.

Querying the Knowledge Base

Question-1: Which are the points to consider for dyspnoea?

Dyspnoea Points

Dyspnoea Points

Question-2: What are the Kidney points?

Kidney Points

Kidney Points

Note that Kidney actually has 27 points, but because we have included only 2 in our KB, the system responds with those points.

Question-3: Which are the organs that Lung promotes?

Organs Promoted by Lung

Organs Promoted by Lung

The above is an interesting question. It shows the power of inheritance in Flora-2. Please take a few minutes to understand the query.

Question-4: Which are the points to be considered for treating Migraine according to Three-Needle therapy?

Three-Needle Therapy

Three-Needle Therapy

We can continue like this and ask many more interesting questions. But I hope this gives an idea of how to use the KB meaningfully. As I have said many times before, the amazing expressiveness of Flora-2 makes all this possible.

That is all for today. Hope you enjoyed the article. You can download the acupuncture model here.

Have a great day!

Lastly, a word of warning. Acupuncture can be safely practised only by a professionally qualified acupuncturist. Do not try to insert needles on any of the points yourself. It can be extremely dangerous!

Further Reading

1) The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine, Ted J. Kaptchuk,  McGraw-Hill, 2000.

2) Getting to Know You, Joseph M. Helms, Medical Acupuncture Publishers, 2007.

3) Acupuncture Energetics: A Clinical Approach for Physicians, Joseph M. Helms, Thieme, 1995.

4) A Manual of Acupuncture, Peter Deadman and Mazin Al-Khafaji, Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications, 2007.

5) Three Needle Technique, Ganglin Yin and Di Fu, Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, 2002.

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