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Toowoomba Acupuncturist Discusses Treatment of the Symptoms Associated with Swallowing Difficulty (Dysphagia) Using Chinese Scalp Acupuncture as Developed by Neurosurgeon Jiao Shun-fa

Scalp acupuncture for difficulty swallowing aka dysphagia due to strokeDo YOU suffer from a swallowing difficulty due to stroke or for some other disorder? Would YOU like to hear some positive news regarding difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) after stroke? Regrettably, Western medicine has little to offer regarding treatment for difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Thank goodness, however, there is positive news regarding the therapeutic treatment for the symptoms associated with Dysphagia. Recent scientific research suggests that novel Jiao Chinese Scalp Acupuncture protocol yields positive outcomes when treating the symptoms of dysphagia caused by stroke or other medical conditions. Chinese Scalp Acupuncture developed by Jiao Shun-fa is currently being used all over the world for the treatment of symptoms associated with swallowing difficulties (Dysphagia). Modern research findings are presented to confirm the efficacy of Jiao Chinese Scalp Acupuncture in treating the symptoms associated with Dysphagia in the US, China, and Europe with promising results. Note please, that powerful Jiao Chinese Scalp Acupuncture is now available from ANTRAC Acupuncture Clinic in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.

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Chinese Scalp Acupuncture in Toowoomba for Treating the Symptoms Associated with Swallowing Difficulty (Dysphagia)

Much of this information has been extracted from the article “Review of Clinical Applications of Scalp Acupuncture for Paralysis: An Excerpt From Chinese Scalp Acupuncture” (1), which was written by Dr Jason Jishun Hao, DOM, MTCM, MBA, and Linda Lingzhi Hao, CA, PhD.

Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptoms of difficulty while eating and swallowing, and is extremely common following a stroke. Dysphagia affects between 13% to 94% of acute stroke sufferers, with the incidence relating to lesion size and location. Dysphagia is associated with respiratory complications, increased risk of aspiration pneumonia, nutritional compromise and dehydration, and detracts from the overall quality of life.

Scalp acupuncture for difficulty swallowing aka dysphagia due to strokeRegarding more information regarding Dysphagia, Jason Hao stated in the article “the signs and symptoms of dysphagia include difficulty controlling food in the mouth, inability to control food or saliva in the mouth, difficulty initiating a swallow, coughing, choking, frequent pneumonia, unexplained weight loss, gurgly or wet voice after swallowing, nasal regurgitation, and swallowing difficulty. When asked where the food is getting stuck, patients will often point to the cervical region. The actual site of obstruction is always at or below the level at which patients perceive the obstruction. The most common symptom of esophageal dysphagia is the inability to swallow solid food, which the patient often describes as “becoming stuck” or “held up” before it either passes into the stomach or is regurgitated. Some people present with “silent aspiration” and do not cough or show outward signs of aspiration. When the airway is unprotected and foreign material is aspirated into the lungs, the person is at risk for development of pulmonary infection and aspiration pneumonia”.

Dr Hao continued “a swallowing disorder can occur in people of all age groups but it is more likely in the elderly, patients who have had strokes, and in patients who are admitted to acute care hospitals or chronic care facilities. Dysphagia is classified into two major types, oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal dysphagia. Oropharyngeal dysphagia is often caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Bell’s palsy. Esophageal dysphagia can be subdivided into mechanical and functional causes. Functional causes include achalasia, myasthenia gravis, and bulbar or pseudobulbar palsy. Mechanical causes usually comprise peptic esophagitis, carcinoma of the esophagus or gastric cardia, candida esophagitis, and pharyngeal pouch. Medicines can help some people, while others may need surgery. Treatment with a speech-language pathologist can help. Patients may find it helpful to change their diet or hold their heads or necks in a certain way when they eat. In very serious cases, patients may need feeding tubes”.

Case History for the Treatment of the Symptoms Associated with Dysphagia using Chinese Scalp Acupuncture

Dr Hao related a Case History of one of his patients who had suffered from a stroke caused by cerebral haemorrhage. Dr Hao reported “Fred, a 62-year-old male in a wheelchair, was brought to our clinic in Santa Fe, NM. His wife gave a brief medical history because of his aphasia. One month before, Fred had severe headache, slurred speech, and the right side of his body became paralyzed. A local hospital diagnosed stroke caused by cerebral hemorrhage in his left hemisphere. He initially was totally paralyzed on the right side and had lost his speech. He had been receiving physical therapy and speech therapy since he was admitted to the hospital. Although his aphasia gradually improved, his speech was not clear. His voice was low and it was very difficult to understand him. He had severe dysphagia and could not swallow any food or water at all, which was his primary complaint at our clinic”.

Dr Hao continued “he felt depressed, irritable, angry, and severely fatigued. A nasogastric tube was inserted to provide nonoral feeding. Examination showed he was unable to move his right leg and foot at all with muscular tone at 0 out of 5. He could move his right arm slightly with muscular tone at 2 out of 5. He could not elevate the hyoid bone, indicating a probable swallow reflex problem. Maximum phonation duration of seven seconds indicated reduced breath support, likely resulting from vocal cord paralysis. He had a weak cough and diminished throat-clearing ability. His aphasia, dysphasia, and paralysis on the right side had shown no further improvement for the past two weeks. A hospital physician recommended that Fred try acupuncture treatment. Upon examination he looked very tired and depressed, his tongue was red with a dry, thick, yellow coating, and his pulses were wiry and slippery”.

Noting the state of the tongue and the quality of the radial arteries is very important and significant in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis. Based on Fred’s symptoms and his findings, Dr Hao determined that his pathology involved “liver depression qi stagnation, spleen qi deficiency, blood stasis in the channels and liver-gallbladder damp heat.” This may sound very strange to the lay-person, but this lingo determines the acupuncture treatment protocol to a trained TCM practitioner.

Chinese Scalp Acupuncture Areas Selected for the Treatment of the Symptoms of Dysphagia

The primary areas included Upper 1/5 Motor Area, Middle 2/5 Motor Area and Lower 2/5 Motor Area. The secondary areas included the Speech I Area (same as lower 2/5 Motor Area). An interesting comment in the article was the use of the “Neck point”, which is a new extra meridian point that is especially therapeutic for treating the symptoms associated with dysphagia. It is located at 1 inch below Feng Chi (GB 20).

The scalp needles were twirled at least 200 times per minute using the thumb and index finger for 2-3 minutes, depending on how much stimulation that Fred could tolerate. The stimulation was repeated every 10 minutes, and the needles were retained in place for 30-45 minutes.

Results of Treatment 1 for Treating the Symptoms of Fred’s Dysphagia Due to Stroke

Dr Hao reported in the article “Fred was very negative and showed no interest in treatment by scalp acupuncture at the initial visit. He was reluctant to do any active exercise when being instructed. Even after showing some improvement of his aphasia and the paralyzed arm and leg, he demonstrated no excitement and simply said, “I do not notice any difference about my throat and swallowing.”

Results of Treatment 2 for Treating the Symptoms of Fred’s Dysphagia Due to Stroke

The article advised “at the second treatment, Fred presented with severe depression and no motivation. He did not like to perform speech, swallowing, and body exercises. His treatment strategy was modified to take care of depression. The ear points Heart, Liver, and Shen Men along with the Head Area and Chest Area on the scalp were needled”.

Results of Treatment 3 for Treating the Symptoms of Fred’s Dysphagia Due to Stroke

Dr Hao related “at the beginning of the third visit, his wife reported that Fred’s mood and attitude were much better after the last treatment. He talked a little more and was easier to understand. To Scalp acupuncture for difficulty swallowing aka dysphagia due to strokeher surprise he reminded her what time he had the acupuncture appointment that day. Since the patient’s attitude was relatively more positive toward acupuncture therapy, we were able to perform stronger stimulation after inserting needles at the same locations as for the initial treatment. Fred was able to follow instructions to practice his speech and do oral and pharyngeal exercises. He started to smile after hearing himself count from one to 10 very clearly. He refused to try drinking a little bit of water to test his swallowing function and said he was afraid that it could induce severe coughing and choking and cause aspiration. With continued encouragement Fred finally agreed to try. To his astonishment he did not choke at all when he took a first sip of water. He drank more and more and finished a whole cup of water without a problem.

The patient thrived on this program. He began to tolerate a soft/semi-solid diet and the nasogastric feeding was gradually tapered down to overnight only as his oral intake improved. At this point his weight increased and his stamina was markedly improved. Fred started to eat more solid food and add more kinds of food gradually. With every treatment, Fred showed dramatic improvements in speech, eating and drinking, and movement of his right arm, hand, leg, and foot”.

Results of Treatment 5 for Treating the Symptoms of Fred’s Dysphagia Due to Stroke

Dr Hao stated “By the fifth treatment, Fred wanted to add more foods and soon could eat and drink anything like a normal person. The nasogastric tube was removed and he had no problem with talking or depression after his sixth treatment”.

His subsequent treatments were focused on his paralyzed arm and leg. He was treated by combined scalp acupuncture and body acupuncture, using acupuncture points on his arms and legs. Sometimes those points were stimulated with electrical acupuncture. Fred was able to move his right arm up and down more, and he commenced walking to the clinic for his acupuncture treatments on his own.

Results of Treatment 20 for the Symptoms Associated with Fred’s Dysphagia and for the Symptoms Associated with his Paralyzed Arm and Leg Due to Stroke

Dr Hao concluded Fred’s Case History “after the sixteenth treatment he had gained more mobility and use of his right hand and gained more muscular strength in that hand. At the end of 20 treatments his walking appeared almost normal. At his last visit, Fred said, “Thank you very much for giving me back my normal life.””

General Discussion about the Treatment of the Symptoms Associated with Dysphagia using Scalp Acupuncture

Dr Hao concluded the article section on Dysphagia by saying “acupuncture offers great rehabilitation tools for dysphagia. Most patients with dysphagia whom we have treated showed some improvement after three treatments and some of them appear better right way. However, to treat dysphagia patients who have depression is very challenging because patients are not always willing to participate in the treatment. It requires very good needle technique as well as good communication skills. Sometimes it is necessary to treat the depression first, and then address the difficulty in swallowing. Compared to other patients, in general depressed patients should receive fewer needles, milder stimulation, and a shorter time of needle retention. Whether you are treating a child or adult with depression, it is important to observe the response and reaction while inserting, stimulating, or withdrawing needles, and adjust the techniques accordingly. Although each part of the cerebral cortex has its own functions, some variation is possible.

To show how the brain is able to accommodate damage, Dr Hao continued “when one area is impaired, this area can recover to a certain extent or can be compensated somewhat by other areas with proper scalp stimulation. This may be the mechanism by which scalp acupuncture is successful in treating dysphagia. Correct food consistency, texture, and temperature are important for the dysphagia patient’s success during acupuncture treatment. All three factors are important as they act to heighten lingual control, reduce oral muscle fatigue, minimize the patient’s fear of choking, and provide a cohesive bolus to stimulate a swallow reflex. A dysphagia diet uses foods that stimulate swallowing and minimize mucus build-up around the larynx. Dysphagia may lead to malnutrition and dehydration and at the most severe stages can cause choking, aspiration, and airway obstruction. Therefore it is imperative to deal with the dangers of dysphagia through dietary management once acupuncture has been instituted”.

“Overall, our patient Fred had a very successful recovery, progressing from dysphagia to total normal eating within just a few weeks. This case study followed the patient as his post-stroke swallowing status changed and various acupuncture decisions were made. In addition to scalp acupuncture, the ear and body acupuncture were very helpful in the patient’s progress and recovery. This case illustrates that scalp acupuncture could be the primary approach to manage swallowing disorder”.

Recent Research on the Effect of Scalp Acupuncture for Treating the Symptoms Associated with Dysphagia Due to Stroke

In the 2012 medical journal article titled “Review of Clinical Applications of Scalp Acupuncture for Paralysis: An Excerpt From Chinese Scalp Acupuncture” (2), the authors advise that Li Min and colleagues reported on the treatment of 60 cases of dysphagia due to stroke using scalp acupuncture in 2009. The duration of the condition was from 30-360 days.

The 60 cases were randomly divided into a five-needle-in-nape (FNN) group and a routine acupuncture (RA) group, 30 cases in each group.

The FNN group was treated with needling Ya Men (GV 15), Tian Zhu (Bl 10), and Zhi Qiang Xue (new extra point).

The RA group was treated with needling at Lian Quan (CV 23), Tong Li (Ht 5) and Zhao Hai (Ki 6).

Treatment was given six times a week and 16 treatments made a course. Results showed seven cases fully recovered, 13 cases markedly improved, eight cases some improvement and two cases failure in FNN group. Five cases fully recovered, eight cases markedly improved, 11 cases some improvement, and six cases failure in the RA group.

The effective rate was 93.3% in the FNN group, better than that of 80.8% in RA group (P< 0.05).

I have been using Scalp Acupuncture as developed by neurosurgeon Dr Jiao Shun-fa for over 15 years, and have been further mentored by his student Dr Jason Hao, author of the reference material cited below. If you suffer from the symptoms of dysphagia or other medical conditions due to stroke, and would like further information or wish to make an appointment please contact Louis from ANTRAC Acupuncture Clinic on (07) 4636 6100.

This article is for informational and educational purposes only, and is NOT a substitute for medical advice for which you should consult a suitably qualified physician.


(1) Hao, J.J. and Hao, L.L. Review of clinical applications of scalp acupuncture for paralysis: an excerpt from Chinese scalp acupuncture. Glob Adv Health Med. 2012 Mar;1(1):102-21. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.1.017. Available from

(2) Hao, J.J. and Hao, L.L. Review of Clinical Applications of Scalp Acupuncture for Paralysis: An Excerpt From Chinese Scalp Acupuncture. Glob Adv Health Med. 2012 Mar; 1(1): 102–121. Available from

Accupuncture, Acupunture or Accupunture common misspelling

Note that “Acupuncture” is often misspelt as accupuncture, acupunture or accupunture, that is with either too many c’s or not enough c’s. I would love to be able to clear up this very common spelling mistake, and set the record straight.

Ac·u·punc·ture – pronounced ak-yoo-puhngk-cher; Origin: 1675–85; < Latin acū with a needle (ablative of acus  needle) or acu- (as combining form of acus ) + puncture.


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