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What is SUNS’ Tongue Acupuncture?

As the term implies, Tongue Acupuncture is a technique that cures sickness through acupuncture applied to the tongue. It is an invention of Professor Sun Jie Guang and his son, Dr. Sun Xue Ran, which falls under the category of ‘micro-needle’ treatment in the realm of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Tongue acupuncture is a natural treatment that exploits the patients’ own potentialities and facilitates recovery through self-regulation of the human body. Serving the dual purpose of healing sick and strengthening our health, it has its own scientific base and stands unique among medical treatments.

Tongue acupuncture is based on one of the most ancient medical books in China, Wang Di’s Internal Medicine, and the idea that the tongue is the intersection site of all 14 meridians in the human body. Furthermore, according to Wang Di’s Internal Medicine, the tongue reflects conditions of the heart, which is the ‘master organ’ controlling all the other internal organs. Hence, a close relationship is believed to form between the tongue, Zang-Fu organ systems and the meridians, and that indirectly the tongue is linked by meridians to all the organs and parts of the body.

Tongue diagnosis is a distinguishing feature of the clinical diagnostic examination in TCM, as well as the clinical experiences have evidenced the value of its application to diagnosis making. The tongue, the only body organ exposed and seen externally, has rich nerve and blood supplies. By observing its colour,
thickness, dryness, superficial growth and smell, practitioners of TCM can learn patients’ health conditions and check whether their “Qi”(energy) and Blood have a smooth flow. The practitioners then develop a treatment based on TCM methodologies to help patients restore their internal balance. Guiding clinical diagnosis and treatment, the tongue has been compared to a ‘mirror’ and a ‘thermometer’ reflecting the subtle changes in the internal organs of the body.


Most of the TCM practitioners recognize the tongue’s value only in clinical diagnosis, but Prof. Sun believes that the tongue is important not only in making diagnoses, but also in treating diseases. Being a ‘self-contained’ organ of the body, the tongue should have contained points and areas that reflect different organs and parts of the body. Based on this assumption, Prof. Sun has discovered over 40 acupoints on the tongue that correspond to various organs and parts of the body, after conducting a large number of scientific research and clinical practices over the past three decades. More importantly, some of these points have been found to connect to different regions of the brain, especially the cerebellum, through rich neural-vascular pathways inside the tongue. In different clinical trials, the acupoints have already been proven to be very helpful in treating various neurological disorders by repetitive stimulations. Additionally, the treatment has also performed useful in limb dysfunction, as well as in some other disorders of the digestive system, the cardio-vascular system, the respiratory system, and the endocrine system.

The Suns’ have made the first Tongue Points diagram in the world. They verified and located the points by using most updated western medical devices fMRI, P.E.T., as well as examined by anatomist, Prof. Guo Guang Wen.


In a clinical study that covers 125 cases of pseudo-bulbar paralysis caused by stroke (the symptoms of which include dysphagia, dysarthria, labile mood and choking), the overall effectiveness rate of tongue acupuncture treatment is 100%.


In another study that covers 105 clinical cases of paralysis agitans (also named Parkinson’s Disease), the overall effectiveness rate is 96.19%.


In 1996, a first-class prize for scientific invention was awarded by the people’s government of Liaoning Province, China, in consideration of the efficacy and research achievements of tongue acupuncture.

The effectiveness of tongue acupuncture manifests itself not only through clinical practice, but also extensively through modern scientific research. In a study that involved 50 weight-lifting, wrestling and cycling athletes, the subjects were randomly assigned to tongue acupuncture and control groups. These athletes were assessed both before and after the study. The assessment comprised morning pulse rate, complete blood picture, pulmonary function test, cardiac function test, cardiopulmonary function test, blood gas analysis, serum prolactin level and urine 6 analysis. The results demonstrate that tongue acupuncture is able to significantly increase the number of white blood cells and improve cardiac and cardiopulmonary functions. It also effectively improves people’s physical strength as well as relieves their fatigue. The tests have shown the accuracy and reliability of the outcomes.


During the period of service in The Jockey Club MRI Engineering Centre, The University of Hong Kong, Dr. Sun has conducted research collaborated with Professor Edward Yang, Professor Q.Y. Ma, and Paediatric Professor Virginia Wong of The University of Hong Kong in patients with obstinate stroke. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) was used to monitor and assess the efficacy of tongue acupuncture in improving functional outcome of patients. In the result analysis, functional images of the stroke patients with motor dysfunction were observed to have a great change from no functional signal or sole weak beacon before the tongue acupuncture to signal shown up or unfocused large area functional activation after the treatment. Moreover, their clinical evaluations of speech faculty, self-care ability in daily life and recovery of mobility also performed various degrees of improvement.


In another study of fMRI in patients with visual impairment due to brain disorders, there was no any signal response demonstrated in the visual cortex before the tongue acupuncture, but images appeared after a trial course of the treatment. The results were correlated with the improvements in the clinical assessment of Visual Evoked Potential.


In research collaborated with Paediatric Professor Virginia Wong of the University of Hong Kong, children with excessive drooling problems due to neurological disorders showed clinical progress in saliva control while autistic kids displayed improvements in intellectual function, emotional behaviour, eye contact, concentration, social communication, and language ability in varying degrees after receiving tongue acupuncture treatment. On the other hand, patients with cerebral palsy exhibited diverse grades of improvement in clinical motor function and self-care ability as well.

Dr. Sun has also conducted further research with Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in testing the function of tongue acupuncture in improving cerebral glucose metabolism, via the use of Brain FDG-PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan. As we know, much energy is required to support our brain activities, and 95%--99% of that is generated by glucose. Metabolic uptake of the brain glucose can reflect if the brain works perfectly or not. Scientific findings have demonstrated that tongue acupuncture can generally improve patients’ brain glucose metabolism, meaning that their brain function has been activating and improving. This achievement showed its important and significant in many clinical studies of autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, cerebellar atrophy, visual disorders, Parkinson’s Disease and so on.


In April 2000, a randomized control trial collaborated with Professor Virginia Wong of the University of Hong Kong and Dr. Ko Chun Hung of Caritas Medical Center, of tongue acupuncture in improving functional outcome in children with cerebral palsy has been carried out. After a short course(40 sessions) of tongue acupuncture, the children were assessed their clinical outcome of rolling, sitting, crawling, kneeling, standing, walking, running and jumping in a particular test situation. The mean GMFM(Gross Motor Functional Measure) score of the treatment group increased from 78.82 to 82.99(p<0.001). Further, the mean 7 PEDI(Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Index) self-care increased from 56.24 to 60.71(p=0.001), mobility increased from 41.50 to 45.05(p=0.027), and self-care assistance increased from 26.48 to 31.33(p<0.001).


Through 20 years of research and clinical practice, it has been established that tongue acupuncture treatment is beneficial to cardiovascular diseases: ischaemic heart disease, coronary heart disease, myocarditis, atrial fibrillation and premature beats; as well as brain and neurological diseases: cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism, stroke (or apoplectic coma), traumatic brain injury(or coma due to traumatic brain injury), Parkinson’s Disease(paralysis agitans), pseudo-bulbar paralysis(dysphagia & dysphasia), vocal cords disorder, multiple sclerosis, facial palsy, dizziness [Menière’s Disease], cerebellar atrophy [spinocerebellar tract movement disorder], senile dementia, short supply of brain blood, visual impairment, upper and lower limbs dysfunction, muscular diseases and vascultis). In addition, tongue acupuncture is also helpful in male sexual function disorder, female irregular menstruation and dysmenorrhoea, depressive disorder, endocrine disorder, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), bronchitis and exhaustion. Some of them are generally recognized as obstinate diseases by the medical profession.


In Prof. Sun's clinical experience, he found that the patients with brain disorders generally not only have a swollen plica sublingualis, but also the degree of swell will relieve step by step while the patients are improving after the tongue acupuncture treatment. Thus, what is the relationship between brain disorders and plica sublingualis swelling under the tongue will be his next task to investigate.

Efficacy of tongue acupuncture has been approved by the Western Medicine. Some of studies in children with autism, cerebral palsy and visual impairment have been released in many international medical journals, such as European Journal of Paediatric Neurology, Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & amp; Psychiatry(by U.K.), Journal of Child Neurology(by Canada), Autism Asperger’s Digest Magazine(by U.S.A.), and the database of National Library of Medicine (by U.S.A.). The treatment has also been extensively introduced by mass media of the world. Among these media are Britain’s Reuters and The Times, America’s CNN and Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, China’s Xin Hua News Agency and People’s Daily, as well as many other local media in Hong Kong.


Tongue acupuncture treatment has been appraised by specialists of both western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. It is commended for its scientific principles, practicability, notable curative value, prompt effectiveness, lack of undesirable side-effects and the durability of its effects. Most patients find tongue acupuncture treatment acceptable, though some may occasionally experience minor pain, slight bleeding, localized swelling and bruising from which they will soon recover.


Tongue acupuncture is still a very young treatment that appears immature and undeveloped when compared with its long-standing counterparts. Much remains to be discovered, explored and refined through more modern scientific 10 study. We enthusiastically expect the potential treatment is able to serve mankind better and benefit human health greatly.

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