I’m an acupuncturist who got infected by tuberculosis. This didn’t occur in the conventional bacteriological sense – I just got hooked by the negligence that has allowed this ancient lethal and foul disease to become resist to modern drugs and allowed to flourish in the poorer quarters of our world. For the past ten years I’ve been trying to figure out how this can possibly have happened and figure out, with the help of some very wonderful friends, whether we might be able to do something to help this catastrophe with our own ‘medicine’.
I should add that I never planned this – I was a simple jobbing acupuncturist who had become increasingly interested in Japanese styles of practice. This in turn led me to learn some fairly sophisticated moxa techniques (along with truly exquisite needling techniques which I particularly love by the way). Along the way I learned that small cone direct moxa had been used with success on TB patients in Japan in the 1930s – and about six years later the logical question dawned on me: if it had been used successfully before the TB drugs arrived, then could it help today if and when those drugs aren’t working anymore?
Ten years later we’re still trying to get a definitive answer to this question (by definitive I mean one that will convince evidence-based medicine, because -love it or hate it – EBM is the only game in town in this field). In order to do this we’ve had to up our game quite a bit – deepen our understanding about moxa, develop a proper understanding of this complex disease so we can engage in discussions about TB with public health experts. And understand more about medical research, so we can get data published in peer-reviewed journals. Perhaps most important of all is to deepen our understanding of the world we are living in along the way – because we now realize that TB epitomizes so much of what is so deeply wrong with the world we have created since World War II.
Our traditional medicine doesn’t normally trespass much into these sorts of territories, but we now recognize that, if we are serious about what we do, it simply must do in the coming decades.