Patent application title: SYSTEM AND METHODS FOR ASSESSMENT OF ACUPUNCTURE POINTS
Igor Raykhman (Chicago, IL, US)
IPC8 Class: AA61H3902FI
Class name: Diagnostic testing measuring electrical impedance or conductance of body portion locating acupuncture points
Publication date: 2012-08-16
Patent application number: 20120209137
The present invention relates to a system and methods for using
alternating current to assess acupuncture points. Embodiments of the
system of the present invention include a first probe, a second probe, a
power source, a control component, a signal generator, an indicator
including a gauge and display, wherein the gauge is configured to
identify a relationship between active resistance and reactive
1. A system for assessing acupuncture points, comprising: a first probe
configured to be positionable in a hand of a patient; a second probe
configured to be positioned at or near an acupuncture point; a power
source; a first control component; a signal generator configured to
generate a signal; an indicator including a gauge and display, wherein
the gauge is configured to identify a relationship between active
resistance and reactive resistance.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the relationship between active resistance and reactive resistance indicates organ activity.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the signal operates on alternating current.
4. A method for evaluating organ activity, comprising the steps of: placing a first probe in contact with a patient, wherein said first probe is connected to a circuit; positioning a second probe at or near an acupuncture point on the patient, wherein said second probe is connected to the circuit; setting a control component to achieve selected settings in the circuit; generating a signal from a signal generator, wherein said signal generator is connected to the circuit; passing the signal through the patient, wherein the signal operates on alternating current; identifying a relationship between active resistance and reactive resistance of an organ; and indicating the relationship between active resistance and reactive resistance of the organ on an indicator.
5. A method of claim 4, further comprising a step of interpreting the relationship between active resistance and reactive resistance of an organ.
6. A method of claim 4, further comprising a step of associating the relationship between active resistance and reactive resistance with organ activity.
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application
Nos. 61/372,407 and 61/372,356 filed Aug. 10, 2010, the contents of which
are incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to systems and methods for acupuncture. More particularly, the present invention relates to a system for obtaining impedance readings at certain acupuncture points.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Conventional acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of treatment and has been used in China for thousands of years. The general theory is that the body has energy in the form of channels and "blood" which extends through the body organs and appears, in lines and points, on the skin. Each active site on the skin is called an "acupuncture point". Each acupuncture point generally is very small, such as one square millimeter. The acupuncture points are used as a reference for administering treatments such as needle insertion, light treatment such as with a laser beam, pressure such as a massage, or electrical stimulation.
 Acupuncture points also may provide information that permits assessment related to symptoms, disease, disorder, or health. Acupuncture assessment stems from correct determination of the activity in individual acupuncture points. Without such assessment, the treatment is less effective, regardless which treatment method is selected.
 Conventional methods of locating an acupuncture point include tactile identification by an acupuncturist, who may have trained for years to be able to find acupuncture points by touch. Acupuncturists--that is, anyone licensed or trained to practice acupuncture--generally use "body units" such as a width of the second joint of the thumb to identify acupuncture points.
 Acupuncturists also may use available charts or written descriptions to locate acupuncture points. However, due to individual differences including differences in the size and body type of patients, even experienced acupuncturists may not correctly locate acupuncture points. In addition, identifying the location of those points may be time-consuming. To avoid embarrassment and delay, acupuncturists may use points which are close to the accepted acupuncture points, but are not exactly at those points. Such lack of accuracy may decrease the effectiveness of the treatment.
 Another conventional method of identifying acupuncture points includes evaluation of the relative difference of electrical properties between two or more points using direct current ("DC"). For example, the electrical properties of electrical potential, resistance, and impedance may be different between the points. However, measuring the electrical properties requires a relatively complex apparatus since common electromagnetic noise may cause significant errors. Accurate measurement of the direct current ("DC") resistance may be disrupted by tissue polarization, electrochemical potential found at the contact point of the electrode with the skin, and the electro-conductivity of the skin. These disrupting factors cause difficulty in reproducing the measured potential and resistance values. Measurement methods based on DC resistance include complex procedures to compensate for the disrupting factors.
 Accordingly, a need exists for an improved system and methods for identifying and assessing acupuncture points.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a system and methods for measuring the electrical activity at or near acupuncture points in order to identify and locate such points. The system and methods of the present invention also permits measuring circuit activity by a comparison of the measured impedance at selected acupuncture points.
 The methods are based on the underlying principle of sending alternating current having high content of harmonic components through an acupuncture point. Measuring impedance in alternating current ("AC") generally is more precise. An acupuncture point is defined as a point on the skin with smallest impedance value relative to the immediate surroundings. When measuring the AC impedance measurement, there is no disruption from tissue polarization or the electrochemical potentials because they balance each other out at the contact point. Moreover, since the impedance capacity component dominates, the influence of resistance in the contact point is diminished and the measurements are more accurate. However, to obtain an accurate measurement, the proper frequency must be selected.
 The current frequency is set automatically by the circuitry of the present system to be inversely proportional to the impedance in the acupuncture point and is preferably about 3.3 kHz. The amplitude of the current is also inversely proportional to the impedance at the acupuncture point. If the impedance is high, then both the measuring frequency and amplitude at the measuring probe will decline. This method permits the reading of energy level in the acupuncture point with a minimum of error from outside influences.
 Generally, one embodiment of the system includes a circuit connecting at least two probes, a signal generator, and an indicator. In certain embodiments, the signal generator emits an alternating current that flows through a wire from the diagnostic device to a first probe, which is in contact with the patient. The first probe may be held in one hand by the patient. In certain embodiments, the first probe is comprised of a brass cylinder or another suitable material. A second wire connects the device to a second probe, which may be covered by moist gauze in certain embodiments. The acupuncturist positions the second probe at or near acupuncture points on the patient's second hand or a foot.
 The connection of the first probe and the second probe to the patient at various points completes a low voltage circuit, through which certain qualities may be measured. Specifically, the system measures impedance, or the difference between active resistance and reactive resistance. This may be measured according to the following equation: Z=R-Xc, wherein Z is impedance, R is active resistance (typically measured in ohms), and Xc is reactive resistance (typically measured in picofarads). Reactive resistance may also be represented as i/2PFC, wherein i=the square root of (-1) or ( -1).
 In certain embodiments, the indicator identifies a relationship between the measurements of active resistance and reactive resistance. Reactive resistance may also be measured by capacitive reactance.
 In certain embodiments, the indicator includes a gauge such as an arrow that changes position to identify one of three regions--that is, positive reading, neutral reading, or a negative reading--on a display. In certain embodiments, the gauge will indicate the active resistance (R) measured in ohms minus the reactive resistance or capacitive reactance (Xc) or measured in picofarads. In such an embodiment, a reactive resistance greater than the active resistance will result in a negative reading, pushing the indicator needle to the left of zero, and a reading where active resistance is greater than reactive resistance will result in a positive reading, pushing the indicator needle to the right of zero. Equal value of reactive resistance and capacitive reactance will result in a neutral reading.
 An acupuncturist may review the reading and associate certain readings with certain treatments, certain organ activity, or certain symptoms. Organ activity may refer to stagnation or inflammation. For example, when measuring an acupuncture point correlating to the heart, if gauge is in the negative region, a heart spasm may be likely. A positive reading for the heart may suggest poor blood circulation. When measuring an acupuncture point correlating to the stomach, a negative reading may indicate low acidity and a positive reading may suggest high acidity. When measuring an acupuncture point correlating to the kidneys, a negative reading may indicate decreased kidney function, and a positive reading may indicate inflammation and hyperactivity of the sweat glands. When measuring an acupuncture point correlating to the liver, a negative reading may indicate decreased function, and a positive reading may indicate increased liver function (which may cause bitter taste in the mouth). When measuring an acupuncture point correlating to the lungs, a negative reading may indicate a dry cough or spasms, and a positive reading may indicate inflammation or asthma. When measuring an acupuncture point correlating to the large intestine, a negative reading may indicate diarrhea, and a positive reading may suggest constipation.
 Such observations are well known in the practice of acupuncture medicine.
 It is an objective of the present system to provide a measuring system and method to find acupuncture points based on the measuring of impedance of such points and to provide readouts on an indicator having a scale with a negative and positive fields.
 It is another objective of the present invention to provide a measuring system less dependent on the skill of the operator.
 It is another objective of the present invention to permit accurate and reproducible readings.
 It is another objective of the present invention to limit the influence on the acupuncture point during measurement by selecting and controlling both the optimal frequency and current emitted by the probe.
 It is a further objective of the present invention to simplify the entire process of acupuncture-based diagnosis and to shorten the time needed to train medical technicians and acupuncturists.
 The present invention and its attributes and advantages will be further understood and appreciated with reference to the detailed description below of presently contemplated embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 illustrates a diagram of an embodiment of the system of the present invention;
 FIG. 2 illustrates a graphical representation of the duty cycle of one embodiment of the present invention; and
 FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment of the system of the present invention; and
 FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of the system of the present invention and a patient.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
 As illustrated in FIG. 1, certain embodiments of a system 10 comprise a first probe 12 and a second probe 14. Embodiments of a first probe 12 are for reference, and embodiments of a second probe 14 are for point measurement. The first probe 12 may include an electrode surface that is at least 25 times larger and preferably 100 times larger than the electrode surface of the second probe 14. The first probe 12 may be held in the hand of the patient during assessment, but also may be positioned anywhere on the patient's body. The adequately sized surface of the first probe 12 permits the placement of the probe anywhere on the patient's body during assessment. The first probe 12 is connected to the signal generator 16, which is connected to the circuit 18.
 The second probe 14 may include a metal end with a smaller surface than the surface of an acupuncture point. During assessment, the second probe 14 is positioned on the patient's body to locate and assess acupuncture points. The second probe 14 is connected to the circuit 18.
 When the first probe 12 is positioned on the patient's body and the second probe 14 is positioned at an acupuncture point, current starts flowing through the circuit 18 and the patient's body. It is preferable that AC current is used in the device, as AC current is considered by some to be more effective and gentle on human bodies. Depending on the intensity of the flowing current after a certain time, when the capacitor 20 is reaches its capacity, the direction of the current flow reverses. Generally, the time to discharge the capacitor 20 is the same as the time to charge. When the capacitor 20 is discharged, the current flow direction is reversed again.
 As illustrated in FIG. 1, embodiments of a circuit 18 also may include various transistors 22, resistors 24, power source 26, and indicator 28. The power source 26 may include a battery or other power sources known in the art. The indicator 28 may include a gauge and a display for identifying a reading of positive reading, neutral reading, or negative reading.
 The assessment method is based on the use of a signal emitted by the signal generator 16. The signal may have a high content of harmonic components. Typically the system operates at an impedance of 10000 ohms (10 K ohms) and includes a signal having frequency of 3.3 kHz, and the current is about 100 microamperes (0.1 milliamperes). The galvanic effect is compensated by utilizing symmetrical alternating current.
 FIG. 2 illustrates a graphical representation of the duty cycle of an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 3 and FIG. 4 illustrate an embodiment of the system 10 of the present invention. The illustrated embodiment of system 10 includes an indicator 28, a first control component 30, second control component 32, and a third control component 34. Certain embodiments also include a housing 36 that house certain components of the system 10. FIG. 4 also illustrates a patient 100 and an acupuncturist 102.
 While the disclosure is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific exemplary embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and have herein been described in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intent to limit the disclosure to the particular embodiments disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the scope of the disclosure as defined by the appended claims.
Patent applications in class Locating acupuncture points
Patent applications in all subclasses Locating acupuncture points