Balance Method & Pain Management – Simon Altman, BHSc (Acupuncture)

Balance Method & Acupuncture 1, 2, 3.


The Balance Method of acupuncture is a series of acupuncture systems used to treat pain and has its roots within the concept of balancing meridians to heal the body.  It was developed or popularised by Dr Richard Teh-Fu Tan and is based on Chinese Meridian theory, however its roots are far older then the modern system of Traditional Chinese Medicine.


Dr Tan would drum into all his students that the fundamentals of an acupuncture treatment consist of three steps, or “Acupuncture 1, 2, 3”.  This was specific to Acupuncture as opposed to Chinese Herbal diagnosis, and simplifies the acupuncture treatment to allow a much more focused and specific result.


  • Step 1: involves working out which meridian or area is ‘sick’ and needs work. For instance, in the head, depending on its location you could be using the Stomach channel going over your cheeks or jaw, Colon which is more nasal, Bladder starting from your eyes and running over your head or Gallbladder covering the sides of your head and forehead.
  • Step 2: allows the practitioner to investigate and determine which meridians will balance out the sick one. The Balance method presents 5 different possibilities to create change within the body.
  • Step 3: focuses on choosing the appropriate points to needle at the correct locations on the body allowing you to make a change as quickly as possible.


The Balance Method primarily uses distal points, or points away from the affected area.  For instance, back pain may use points on the forearm, hands or feet.  Dr Tan would use the analogy of a light switch being away from the lightbulb.  When we turn on the light switch it activates the current to the lightbulb, likewise when we select specific points in the hand it can activate areas within the body such as the back or neck.


When points are selected correctly there should be a shift in sensation, reduction in pain or change in that specific location.   This can be right on the spot for simple muscular or pain issues and the balance method endeavours to make the change as quickly as possible often within moments.  For internal conditions, systemic problems or longer standing issues change can happen over a period of time.


The balance method uses 5 main methods to determine where to needle to gain the maximum effect possible.  These 5 methods are based on classical theory involving meridian partners, the Chinese anatomy systems, Chinese clock and the Yi Jing.  Using 5 systems creates a dynamic balance within the body to help return the specific area back into homeostasis.


Once we remember that everything within the body is connected, it helps us understand how needling a hand could impact a lower or upper backNeedling regulates a number of internal systems from the nervous system to simply expanding and contracting blood vessels allowing the flow of blood to increase to specific areas of the body.  This is one of the mechanisms utilised by the Balance Method to achieve pain relief extremely quickly, through the improvement of blood circulation to specific muscles and areas of the body. 


The Balance Method allows treatment in an upright position, you do not need to be face down in a massage table and can relax whilst dozing or even falling asleep.


The Acupuncture Evidence project recently reviewed the current evidence and concluded that there is strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic lower back pain[1].  Whilst a recent meta-analysis on Acupuncture for Chronic pain concluded “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo.[2]”


The Balance Method of acupuncture is an excellent tool amongst the various systems of acupuncture for treating pain conditions.  If you are interested in discussing The Balance Method or pain relief with acupuncture please call Mornington Chinese Medicine.


Dr Richard The-Fu Tan

Dr Richard The-Fu Tan



[1] Acupuncture Evidence Project (McDonald J, and Janz S, 2017). Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA)

[2] Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Vickers, et al.  Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(19):1444–1453.


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Simon is available for consultation at Mornington Chinese Medicine on Monday and Saturday.

If you would like to book an appointment, please call us on ph: 5973 6886