I initially became interested in acupuncture when I injured my back practicing judo. I was
about thirteen at the time and my parents took me to lots of doctors, orthopedics,
osteopaths, all kinds. But nothing helped. Then we were in Sendai one time and my mother
said I was going to have acupuncture. When I found out what was involved I said, "no
way!" In the end they had to kind of trick me into going. After the first session I'
say that my back showed a 50-60% improvement. I went three times and after that I never
had any more trouble.
When I entered medical school I had to ask myself why all of the modern medicine they
had tried on me - the injections, pain pills, anti-inflammatory medication - hadn't
worked. So, at medical school I joined a group that studied oriental medicine. This was
something totally separate from my medical doctor studies, because at that time
acupuncture was totally taboo. The idea of sticking pins in people was considered some
kind of weird voodoo practice.
When I finally began practicing at a National Hospital, I found that acupuncture was much
better than Western medicine because, instead of simply drugging a person, it would help
promote a natural healing process without using medication.
I started my own practice about 11 years ago. I practice Chinese and Japanese acupuncture
and another type called Ryodoraku acupuncture, an electrical method that acts on the
sympathetic involuntary neuropathic system. It's a real boost to the traditional
acupuncture which I did for many years.
My day at the clinic usually starts at 10am and I don't finish until around 11pm at
night. When a patient first comes in I'll go through a complete body check to diagnose
their situation properly. Just because the patient has back pain doesn't mean it's simply
a muscle problem. It could be coming from somewhere else like a kidney or an ovary, or an
intestinal problem. The initial check gives me a deeper sense of the person, a feel for
what's going on.
An average session usually lasts about two hours, give or take a little, but I'll work on
a patient until I get them to where I want them to be for that session. I treat all kinds
of conditions: sports injuries, internal problems, external stomach problems, acne,
migraine, asthmatic problems, allergies, and a broad range of other ailments. Also, as
people have become more knowledgeable about Oriental medicine they are using acupuncture
as a preventative measure, to tune up their systems before they get sick.
These days acupuncture is no longer considered taboo within the medical profession and is
now being taught as a legitimate course of study. It is just as effective as modern
Dr. Sappers spoke with Paul Betney.
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