pharmacopuncture

What is Pharmacopuncture?

Korea is a country where traditional medicine has not been neglected in favor of the new and shiny. Rather it lives as a viable practice along with it’s more progressive offspring of Modern Medicine.

In Korea patients are given a choice of whether they want to be treated by the traditional or more contemporary methods of science. This gives the physicians the oportunity to test, study and expand the knowledge and practice of Korean Traditional Medicine, in conjunction with the latest tools of Medical Science.

Pharmacopuncture is a recent development in the field of Alternative Medicine, that comes out of Korea. It is a combination of Accupuncture and Herbal medicine. According to this treatment practice,subclinical dosages of herbal extracts or drugs are injected by needle in the meridians of the body. Every year thousands of patients are being treated by this method in Korea alone.

Is there any literature on the matter?

The main source for the latest scientific developments in the field is “The Journal of Pharmacopuncture” , an open-access peer-reviewed journal published by the Korean Pharmacopuncture Institute , since 1996. According to the journal’s official website the purpose of the publication is :

to present major advances and new developments contributing to the advancement of complementary and alternative medicine, with a special focus on pharmacology, acupuncture and a combination of pharmacology and acupuncture.

One can find more information at Korean Pharmacopuncture Institute.

How is pharmacopuncture used?

Usual treatments of pharmacopuncture use.

The types of pharmacopuncture ,as it is practiced in Korea, are :

  1. Eight principle pharmacopuncture (EPP).
  2. Distillation Pharmacopuncture.
  3. Animal Pharmacopuncture.
  4. Blood and Qi nursing pharmacopuncture/blood energy pharmacopuncture.
  5. Blood energy pharmacopuncture.
  6. Simple medicine pharmacopuncture/docking agent pharmacopuncture.
  7. Eye Pharmacopuncture.

Some very common constituents used in the practice of Pharmacopuncture are:

DrugConstituents – Preparation
Shinbaro 1Herbal extraction (Cibotium barometz, Saposhnikovia divaricata, Eucommia ulmoides, Acanthopanax sessiliflorus, Ostericum koreanum, Angelica pubescens, Achyranthes japonica, Paeonia lactiflora) using reflux extraction with 70 % spiritus vinosus → progressive purification using alcohol immersion → freeze-drying → dilution → filtering → sterilization
Shinbaro 2Herbal extraction (Cibotium barometz, Saposhnikovia divaricata, Eucommia ulmoides, Acanthopanax sessiliflorus, Ostericum koreanum, Angelica pubescens, Achyranthes japonica, Paeonia albiflora, Scolopendra subspinipes) using reflux extraction with 70 % spiritus vinosus → progressive purification using alcohol immersion → freeze-drying → dilution → filtering → sterilization
Shinbaro 3Herbal extraction (Harpagophytum procumbens) extraction using reflux extraction with 70 % spiritus vinosus → progressive purification using alcohol immersion → freeze-drying → dilution → filtering → sterilization
Bee venomPurification of dried bee venom → freeze-drying → dilution → filtering
Hwangryunhaedok (黃蓮解毒)Herbal distillation extraction (Coptis japonica, Scutellaria baicalensis, Phellodendron amurense, Gardenia jasminoides) → filtering → sterilization
Joongseongouhyul (中性瘀血)Herbal distillation extraction (Gardenia jasminoides, Commiphora molmol, Boswellia carterii, Corydalis ternate, Paeonia obovata, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Caesalpina sappan) → filtering → sterilization
Hominis placenta (紫河車)Hominis placenta extracts approved for herbal medicine preparation → filtering → sterilization
Muscle relaxationHerbal extraction (Paeonia lactiflora, Glycyrrhiza uralensis) using reflux extraction with 70 % spiritus vinosus → progressive purification using alcohol immersion → freeze-drying → dilution → filtering → sterilization
Constituents of Pharmacopuncture

Other standardized herbal Formulas used in Pharmacopuncture are:

  • Soyeom pharmacopuncture. (Taraxacum officinale, Lonicera japonica, Rehmannia glutinosa, Forsythia viridissima, Coptis chinensis, Scutellaria baicalensis, Phellodendron amurense, and Gardenia jasminoides).
  • Ouhyul pharmacopuncture. (Gardenia jasminoides, Corydalis remota, Boswellia carteri, Commiphora myrrha, Prunus persica, Paeonia lactiflora, Salvia miltiorrhiza, and Caesalpinia sappan

Shinbaro1 and 2 solutions contain the herbal compound GCSB-5. GCSB-5 (traditional name: Chungpa-Juhn),is an herbal medicine composed of 6 crude herbs (Saposhnikovia divaricata Schiskin, Achyranthis bidentata Blume, Acanthopanax sessiliflorum Seem, Cibotium baromets J. Smith, Glycine max Meriill, and Eucommia ulmoides Oliver), has been widely used in Asia for treatment of neuropathic and inflammatory diseases. The specific herbal extract has been shown to have antioxidant activity and neuroprotective properties on rats.

References:

  1. Protective effect of GCSB-5, an herbal preparation, against peripheral nerve injury in rats. Kim et. al.J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jun 22;136(2):297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.037. Epub 2011 May 4
  2. List of types of Pharmacopuncure.
  3. Jimin Park, Hyangsook Lee, Byung-Cheul Shin, Myeong Soo Lee, Boryang Kim, Jong-In Kim, “Pharmacopuncture in Korea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials”, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, Article ID 4683121, 19 pages, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/4683121
  4. Lee, Y.J., Shin, JS., Lee, J. et al. Usage report of pharmacopuncture in musculoskeletal patients visiting Korean medicine hospitals and clinics in Korea. BMC Complement Altern Med 16, 292 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-016-1288-5