Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kototama Medicine, My Story

By Dr. Thomas E. Duckworth, DKM, L.Ac.

There is a Japanese phrase, Hari wa hito nari, translated as "Acupuncture is an expression of the person. That is, acupuncture is an art and artists have their own personal way with the needle. It's been stated that great acupuncturists "all needle in a way that's idiosyncratic to their own personality." (Traditional Japanese Acupuncture, Robert Hayden, Dipl. Ac.; 1999.)

Masahilo M. Nakazono Osensei taught his students to treat, trust and respect the needle as a samurai treated, trusted and respected his/her sword. Sensei was an extraordinary artist and highly trained samurai. When I first met Sensei, my desire was not so much the medicine, I wanted to study him. In fact, I have stated that if Sensei had been a bicycle repairman, I'd be fixing bikes now. However, he was a medicine man and one of the most influential persons of my life.

I began my professional acupuncture practice June 1980 in Santa Fe, two days after I graduated from the Kototama Institute. My schooling was a unique form of Japanese Hari (acupuncture), Okyu (moxibustion), Te a te (bodywork), Shoni-shin (non-needle pediatric therapy) and Shokuji (diet) known as Kototama Natural Life Medicine. This system was developed by Dr. Masahilo M. Nakazono (Osensei) and included Roku-Bu-Jio-Yi (‘both hands, six pulses' diagnosis), Jingei (Carotid artery diagnosis), Keiraku Chiryo (Meridian Therapy), Kototama Gogio (Kototama Five Element Principles), Ampuku (Abdominal diagnosis & treatment), Sakai Hon Li Te a te (Abdominal handwork handed down by Sakai Sensei), Gogio Anma and Shiatsu (Five Element bodywork), Nakazono Kappo (muscular/skeletal therapy), Sotai (muscle reprogramming therapy), traditional dietary practices and the study and practice of Kototama Sound meditation and therapeutics.

I was introduced to the study of the Kototama Principle in 1974. I began my studies of Oriental Medicine with Masahilo Nakazono Sensei in 1977 after experiencing his medicine on my wife, my son, my daughter and finally, myself, when he saved a severely infected finger from amputation. I asked if I could study with him; he consented and when I had completed my basic studies in 1980, I continued as his apprentice for eight more years. All my studies throughout those years were through Sensei.

In 1986, I presented my research on the interpretation of the Roku-Bu-Jio-Yi pulses viewed through the paradigm of the Kototama Principle and Osensei presented me with a Doctor of Kototama Life Medicine degree in 1987. I am the only graduate of the Kototama Institute to achieve this rank and honor. The system of diagnosis and clinical care I provide is termed Inochi (Japanese: Life) Medicine.

This blog is aimed at patients, acupuncturists, students and friends. It is intended to share some of my knowledge and experiences I have gained in 29 years of study and practice of Kototama Inochi Medicine. It is hoped that this will inspire discussion and further study of all aspects of healing and the healing process.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Q's for Dr. Duckworth: That First Time Visit

This week, Dr. Duckworth received a note from a potential first-time patient, who was inquiring about treatment options for a combination of panic attacks and persistent pain in the feet. His response is below, which would be applicable to first-time patients, of all stripes:


Your first visit includes a health history from the medical model of classic oriental medicine, Five Element Meridian Pulse diagnosis, treatment (acpuncture/moxibustion & Inochi bodywork) and consultation (diet, life-style, herbs, supplements, do-at-home soaks, etc; everyone is different, so different strokes for different folks). The treatment is to address the body's Life Energy and its capacity to self-heal. The symptoms you exhibit need to be addressed, but our concern is the energetic disharmony that allowed that/those symptom(s) to arise. The diagnosis (the reading of 17 pulses in the wrists and neck) guides the treatment plan. Therefore, treatments may be on the back, abdomen, legs,arms (and may or may not be anywhere near the site of symptoms). I hope this answers your question,Dr. Thomas E. Duckworth, L.Ac.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reschedule of "Choosing the Right Diet for Me"

Health in the Modern World informational classes ~

"Choosing the Right Diet for Me" will be held again on Monday, February 9th, due to the weather conditions Monday, January 26th.

We know that it can be overwhelming attempting to choose a particular diet or even to make a list of the "right" foods to buy. Many dietary programs are very strict, one-sided, or do not take enough into account individual needs. In this discussion we hope to alleviate some of these concerns and hopefully help to make the process of choosing food more interesting and fun.

We will take a look at food groups, the basic process of digestion, the climate we live in and choosing diet, diet through the seasons, making an initial self-assessment of one's own relative state of health when choosing certain foods, and a list of possible foods to eat!

Please join us with your questions ~ NLT...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reminder: Diet Class this Monday, Jan. 26

Beginning in January, 2009, Natural Life Therapy Clinic will hold free informational classes two Monday evenings a month, at the NLTC. All classes are open to the public and are from 6:15 - 7:30 p.m.. The classes are titled "Health in the Modern World" and will cover varied sub-topics.

This Monday's session will be: "Choosing the Right Diet for Me."

Please join us with questions concerning you.

For more info, see:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Conversations with Dr. Duckworth: Acupuncture & Kids (pt. 2)

Q: Do you think that kids share, with one another, their opinions of acupuncture?

A: School kids, definitely. The feedback from children that I've talked to about it is that they talk about it at school. There's an appliance I use that the kids call "dragon eggs." They're small and are ionized and place at the acupuncture points. And they're kept on for several days . They are definitely used at school for show-and-tell. Kids, once they get to seven or eight, talk about it and are curious about the experiences.

Q: Are there anecdotes that you can point to lately, in which there was a really positive outcome for the patient?

A: The most recent one was a child I've been seeing for a little over a year. He's 11-years-old, now. He came to me with a very severe case of Tourette's Syndrome. He was having problems at school, with his studies. His tics and gestures were quite noticeable. Over the months, he's progressed. To the point where last May, the school nurse indicated how much he'd improved. And now, he's doing quite well in school. He has still a little bit of a tic. I'm seeing him every three weeks now. It was twice-a-week, then once a week. Now about twice a month. Yesterday, I saw him and the mother was telling me that his family in Illinois over Christmas - aunts and uncles and grandparents - all said to her how much he'd improved since their last visit.

Most of the feedback we get is from parents. The kids coming in with allergies, or the like, just know that they're coughing or not coughing. But the parents do note the successes.

Q: To dovetail back to one of your original points, obviously you're suggesting that kids who are in otherwise good shape, still benefit from acupuncture.

A: Yes, the child who is developing an immune system almost needs that cold, almost needs the germs, to build up that system. But to lessen the impact, to allow the body to adapt better to treatments, meridian therapy is very beneficial. True for adults, too. People come in for a cause, or symptoms, the same as they would with western medical doctors. But once we get them over that hump, we instruct them to come in seasonally for a tune-up, to stay healthy. It's a lot easier to stay healthy, than it is to get healthy, or to regain what we've lost.

We'd certainly encourage children and their parents to come periodically to get checked-up, seasonally. In Oriental medicine, we recognize five seasons of the year. There's spring, summer, fall and winter, the four that we all talk about. But there's a fifth season that exists between the seasons. That time in March when you have days that are very spring-like, but the night-time will still be cold and wintry. It's not full spring, yet. The same in May, a season when the day is so hot that you want to go swimming, but by night-fall, you want to put a sweater on. That's the fifth season. That's the ideal time to be seen. It's been said that the cold you get today is not from what you did yesterday, but from the choices you made six-, eight- or 10-weeks ago. If you have a head-cold today, it's not because of not wearing a hat yesterday, that's nonsense; it's about what you did in December.

If a person comes in as the seasons are shifting, we can correct them energetically, adjust what the body's been going through since the last season. That's done environmentally, dietarily. The body will simply have different needs. We guide the parent and the child to get healthy, so that they don't need us. Ultimately, we want to go out of business, though that's unlikely to happen right away.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Conversations with Dr. Duckworth: Acupuncture & Kids (pt. 1)

Q: Tell us about children and the practice. How often do you see them as patients and what are their expectations?

A: The evolution of Oriental medicine, in general, is that it addresses the basics of what the Chinese call qi and the Japanese call ki, the vital forces, the vital energies that make up the function of cells. The medicine originated as a preventive health care system. It's only in modern times, in the west, that it's been used to address disease and dysfunction. Originally, it was used to maintain proper function, before the dysfunction arose. Sometime back in history - with what I call the original HMOs - an entity (a family, a clan, a village, a tribe) would collectively hire a physician to care for them. They all paid into the pot. Everyone put money into his or her purse, and if everyone in the village became sick, they were cut off completely. It was the job of the physician to keep the group healthy, not to get them healthy. Which is quite different than what we have nowadays.

The aspect of treating children is the same, this aspect of preventive health care. In modern times, we are stuck with unhealthy people, post-healthy people. In what we see children for, we have post-baby wellness clinics. We treat children for allergies, inner-ear problems, digestive issues. A child I'm treating has Tourette's syndrome. We deal with asthmatic conditions, hyperactivity, food allergies. A broad spectrum.

There is a technique that we use in our practice, and that I teach to other practitioners, called Shonishin. It developed in Osaka, Japan, about 300 years ago. It's a system of very gentle, non-invasive use of the acupuncture points. We don't use needles, we use stimulating tools, basically rubbing the skin to bring energy to the surface. Shonishin is very effective for very many health issues and health maintenance. We use a very generalized system. In Osaka, they treat children around the full moon, bringing children in for therapuetic work.

We need to emphasize that we do a lot of work around infertility, pre-natal care and something most people don't pay enough attention to, post-natal care. For the first year after birth, we're going to offer a program to help immune the child's immune system, digestive system.

As a broad statement to your question, about 12-15% of our practice is pediatric. We work with a lot of children.

Q: With that group, are there expectation from them, at their age? Are they pretty open-minded to what work you'll do?

A: Kids often will get in the car and go wherever mom and dad tell them to. They often don't have expectations. Those aged seven-on-up can be more inquisitive. "What are you doing? Why?" I've had occasions when children eight or nine have said, "I don't want Shonishin, I want the needles!" They've been insistent on getting the acupuncture needles. Children from birth up to age seven tend to come in simply because somebody brought them. They're not as philosophical or meditative on it. They go to a doctor and do what a doctor tells them to do.

Children here can be reticent because I'm a stranger. And there's more hands-on medicine. Some of them very much appreciate that. Years ago, I had a 17-year-old who was interviewed about this medicine and she said, "Oh, I love it." And I asked why and she said, "Because they touch me. It's not a doctor sitting across a wide, wide desk just asking questions. There's someone actually in there investing themselves in me." Granted, she was 17, and not seven, but she had that appreciation for hands-on medicine.

I work with a couple kids who are super-hyperactive. Some parents bring in kids for other such issues. One kid with hyperactivity can't hold still or even stay still on the table, doesn't have any hesitancy getting on the table for treatment. He actually looks forward to it.

While kids don't have high expectations, they don't have disappointments, either.

(Part two of this chat coming on Wednesday.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Holiday week hours (and offer)

Natural Life Therapy Clinic will be open for normal business hours on Monday, January 19, for services to those already enjoying the day off, as well as those taking a day off due to the Martin Luther King holiday.

In the spirit of Dr. King's memory, and in acknowledgement of the historic inauguration of President Obama on Tuesday, we'd like to offer a $10 discount on treatment to anyone mentioning this blog during the week of January 19 - 23. Hours are available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of next week, for both Drs. Duckworth and Hackler; as well as Ms. Wallis on Friday.

Please call 314-991-6035 for an appointment.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Study group/class: "Messiah's Return"

“We are God. We are the creator of the universe. Now and here in front of us a world exists, the world created by us. How can this be?” (Messiah’s Return, The Hidden Kototama Principle (c) 1972, Masahilo Nakazono)

This is the opening paragraph of M. Nakazono Sensei’s first book published in English and the theme of the study group meeting Thursday evenings at Natural Life Therapy Clinic. We will explore Sensei’s teachings that have profoundly influenced understanding of philosophy, healing, our place in society and divinity itself. We will practice Sound Meditation, read from Sensei’s lectures and writings and discuss the Kototama Principle as taught by Nakazono Sensei and his teacher, Koji Ogasawara Sensei. This gathering will take place Thursdays from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on January 15th & 22nd; February 6th & 19th; March 5th & 19th; April 2nd, 16th & 30th and additional dates as we head into summer. All are welcome to come and participate. There is no fee but tax deductible good-will donations to the Institute of American Acupuncture are gratefully accepted.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stress Reduction Treatment

Everyone is feeling the impact of our economy and if extra stress builds, it affects our physical and mental health. Natural Life Therapy is now offering a Stress Reduction treatment protocol, which includes a short acupuncture and bodywork session targeting key points, based on your specific pulse diagnosis.

The Stress Reduction treatment is not meant to replace a full Meridian Therapy session, but can be used between visits, or on its own to alleviate stress. The 15-minute treatment provides a reduction in tension, a relaxed sense of well-being, a clearer head and enhanced immune system function. The fee per session is $45.00.

As always, please visit our new website for more on natural health care.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Greetings to all patients and other interested parties. A quick note on the posting policy of the new blog. During the hullabaloo of the holiday week, a note went out to patients and others on our mailing list, which gave input to both read and post on the blog. While we certainly want an interactive dialogue with those interested in holistic medicine, our goal is to provide that opportunity through the comments section of posts. If you read something on the blog that interests, please feel free to send a question or comment, and our staff will endeavor to get back to you quickly.

For this reason, a couple of notes were removed by our moderator today, though we certainly appreciate the goodwill expressed in them and enjoy having this outlet for two-way conversation with all of you.

We look forward to regularly adding content here, on a variety of subjects related to your health and our practice's role in helping you maintain that good health.