Article Index

"The Caduceus, Chakras, Acupuncture and Healing"
( Part I )
John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.

Anyone will undoubtedly recognize the illustration in Figure 1, as the "caduceus" or what has been internationally accepted as the symbol of medicine. Even though it is universally associated with the modern medical profession, its use has ancient derivatives. When one understands and appreciates it's significance, the caduceus has much more meaning to both the professions of acupuncture and chiropractic than allopathic medicine. To understand the close relationship of the ancient Sanskrit meaning of the caduceus to these two dynamic professions, may be one of the most significant healing revelations of ones career.


Courtesy of Alex Grey from the book "Sacred Mirrors"

In Greek mythology, Hermes (Mercury) among other duties was known as the messenger and the deliverer of information. The staff of Hermes the double-coiled serpent around a staff became the symbol adopted by 17th century printers who were also known as the deliverer of messages.

In the 19th century, a well-known medical publisher began using the image of the caduceus prominently displayed on its textbooks because of its long association with printing. These published medical textbooks in America established an association between medicine and the caduceus. When the U.S. Army Medical Corps. adopted the caduceus logo in 1902 replacing the cross, it became firmly implanted as the symbol of medicine as opposed to its earlier representation of communication and wisdom.

Hermes in Greek mythology was also known as one that delivered the souls of the departed to the underworld and is also classically known as the patron of thieves. In the Greek myths he is often associated with wealth and business. Many medical physicians over the years have been less than accepting of the caduceus as a symbol of medicine as they felt because of its relationship with Hermes they did want the perceived association with death, trickery and the accumulation of wealth. The American Medical Association and other medical establishments such as Blue Cross Blue Shield have adopted the staff of Aesculapius which is a single snake coiled around a cypress branch. This was done possibly to distance itself from the double snake caduceus of Hermes and because of its historic significance to healing from the Greek myths.

According to Greek mythology, the god Apollo in a jealous rage killed his unfaithful mortal mistress Coronis. When Apollo realized she was pregnant with his son, he called upon Hermes to deliver the child while her body lay on the funeral pyre. The child was Aesculapius.

Chiron the wise centaur and healer (which arguably has a connection with "chiropractic" in name only) was called to school Aesculapius in healing since his father, Apollo was the god of health. Eventually he became the god of medicine with his own cult, temples and rituals. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, was a 20th generation member of the cult of Aesculapius.

Various explanations throughout history suggest the staff of Aesculapius being the single snake coiled around a staff representing the snake and its association with rebirth and the cypress branch representing strength. Hermes allegedly received the double snake on the staff as his symbol while he was on a mission of delivering an enlightened message. On the way, he came across two snakes fighting and struggling with one another, when he placed a stick between them to separate them; they stopped fighting while they coiled around the staff. It is unclear how this symbol became associated with Hermes as opposed to other tales of his being.

Throughout the religious and mythical history of the world spanning numerous nations and thousands of years, serpents and staffs have always had a close association. The symbol of serpents and birds have likewise played a powerful role. The origin of Kungfu refers to a folktale of a Buddhist monk (some versions say nun) who observed a crane fighting a snake and designed exercises to emulate their motions. In Buddhist folklore, Buddha once meditated under the tree of the serpent king. When a rainstorm threatened to drench Buddha, a giant cobra wrapped himself around Buddha's body seven times and opened his hood to keep him dry.

The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt wore the trademark of the vulture and the cobra. The coiled serpent worn on the foreheads of the Pharaohs, represented divine fire which originated at the base of the spine and ascended towards the head. This represents the Kundalini which is illustrated by the coiled snake coursing up the spine.

In the medical practices of India and southern Asia the Kundalini (energy system) has been represented for centuries by double-coiled snakes coursing up a single staff (Figure 1). This representation has absolutely no relationship to Hermes and Greek myth. It has been said that the philosophy of India and Southwest Asia to include Thailand preceded Greek legend by as much as 1,000 years. The double serpent on the staff was solely a representation of the Kundalini coursing up the body from the perineum and sacrum to the crown of the head. This symbol has extremely important correspondences to the practice of both the acupuncture and chiropractic professions when utilized and practiced in a therapeutic sense.

The two snakes are representations of the spinal tracts known as the IDA and the PINGALA. The IDA is the Yin energy (negative) whereas the PINGALA is Yang (positive). These two snakes are coiled around what is referred to as the Sushumna or main spinal tract or cord. Each time the two snakes cross each other as they entwine coiling up the body, represents the location of a "chakra" . Chakras are the primary centers of electro magnetic energy in the body. The crossing of the serpents occurs seven times thus the seven chakras. The wings at the top of the staff in actuality represent the seventh chakra. Ren 26 even though not an official chakra plays an extremely important role in chakra healing.

The illustration of the chakra and acupuncture meridian system "Psychic Energy System" by Alex Grey (Figure 2) in his classic book "Sacred Mirrors", may well be one of the most accurate representation of the acupuncture energy system ever illustrated in acupuncture's long history. Very little if anything is ever mentioned of the Chakra system in either ancient or contemporary Chinese acupuncture texts, however it is mentioned often in Master to student education especially through Southwest and Southeast Asia. It was in Southwest Asia around the borders of Tibet where I was first introduced to this concept later in both Cambodia and Thailand(Burma).

The chakras have been described as where the Qi energy circulating throughout the meridian system originates from. It takes air, food, water, sensory and intellectual stimuli to manufacture and replenish Qi. It is the chakras which are responsible for meridian energy distribution. They are of incredible significance in healing, as they are the primary electro-magnetic energy system of the body.

Their individual circular rotation are associated with specific frequencies which are measured thru both color and sound. The colors associated with the Five Elements have specific relationships to each of the Chakras. Thus the color of Blue associated with the fifth chakra at Ren 22 has a specific relationship with the Water Element namely Bladder and Kidney. Whereas the 4th chakra associated with the color and frequency of Green located at the sternum at Ren 17, is obviously associated with the Wood Element or Liver and Gallbladder.

One of the most significant healing factors of Chakras is simply the fact the electro magnetic energy of the Chakras are located not on the anterior of the body as they are generally illustrated, but in the middle of the body and communicate to both the front and to the back. Thus Yin and Yang. This spinal connection may explain many of the almost miraculous clinical results reported throughout the history of chiropractic as D.C.'s adjust these critical areas of the spine where the chakras communicate to the posterior intervertebrally. Acupuncturists worldwide likewise utilize these important therapeutic acupuncture points frequently in treatment with stunning success.

The number of severe and disabling health conditions which may be treated with the awareness of the Meridian system and the Chakras has few equals throughout the healing professions. It is truly incredible. When one develops an awareness of the caduceus, the Chakras and specific acupoints along with the knowledge gained from Electro Meridian Imaging (EMI) diagnosis as reported in previous issues, it will create an entirely new dimension of clinical response never before seen in conventional acupuncture.

The following two illustrations (Figure 3 and Figure 4) show the relationship of the chakras to the IDA and the PINGALA and its relationship to specific landmark acupuncture points. Many conclusions will be drawn by the practitioner reading this article as to application. Many will report literally outrageous clinical results with what you will glean from this paper even though because of space limitations in editorial content, I cannot fully describe the clinical applications of this work until my next column in Part 2.


Copyright 2002: Dr. John A. Amaro

Clip out, save and study Figure 3 and Figure 4 and realize a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Compare the double-coiled serpent on the staff as in the "caduceus" to the trajectory of the Kundalini and Qi systems of the body. Relate this entire concept to the Chakra system in Figure 2. You will be delighted what will be revealed to you by simply studying this chart. I will expound on clinical applications in my next article. These charts will not be re-printed in the next article be sure to save these for Part 2.

I will be presenting a special program on Electro Meridian Imaging (EMI) along with the relationship to the chakras at the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance 10th Annual Conference and Expo in Safety Harbor (Tampa) Florida May 2-5. An event you will definitely want to attend. Watch for announcements or drop me a line for schedule. See you there!

John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM) (IAMA), L.Ac.
Carefree, Arizona