Scalp acupuncture is a specialized area of acupuncture that has been in development since the 1970's. Though acupuncture has been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, scalp acupuncture is a relatively new specialization and a few variations have emerged. Currently, two methods stand out as the most recognized. From China, Professor Zhu Mingqing created Zhu's Scalp Acupuncture based on the original Chinese theory and research. From Japan, Dr. Toshikatsu Yamamoto has developed what is known as Yamamoto New Scalp Acupuncture (YNSA).
The gist of the original theory behind scalp acupuncture is that the different brain areas can be stimulated by introducing acupuncture needles to the appropriate areas on the scalp. In turn, the locations stimulated can improve function and reduce pain in the areas of the body controlled by the particular part of the brain that is stimulated. The idea is have the "good" areas of the brain "re-teach" the malfunctioning or atrophied areas. In the simplest of terms, the acupuncture serves as a manual "reset" button. The general areas are motor, sensory, foot motor-sensory, chorea tremor, vasomotor, vertigo-auditory, speech, optic, balance, gastric, thoracic, and reproductive. Practitioners use a detailed brain/scalp map to identify the areas.
Dr. Zhu began developing his scalp acupuncture method in the 1970's and brought his practice to the United States and created the Chinese Scalp Acupuncture Center of the U.S.A. in 1991, in San Francisco. His practice now extends to Zhu's Acupuncture Medical & Neurology Center, in San Jose, CA. Patients are treated for various maladies, including chronic pain, stroke, and neurological disorders. Zhu's method of scalp acupuncture is said to differ from body acupuncture in a few ways. It is less painful, results are faster, needling locations are different, and patients can be treated in any position.
NSA was first introduced by Yamamoto in 1970 and is based on what he identified as somatotopes. These are tiny points on the head that correspond to points on the body. YNSA practitioners palpate the neck and abdomen to determine where the correlating spots on the scalp will be found. After matching up areas of pain on the body to points on the scalp, acupuncture needles or small lasers are used to stimulate the scalp areas involved. Like the Chinese method of scalp acupuncture, YNSA is also used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain, neurological disorders, child development disorders, nerve pain, stroke, and many other issues.