I was a weak and sickly kid with a knack for solving problems. Those two “givens” conspired to set me on the adventure of my life.
After three life-threatening infections in early adulthood left me with a weak constitution, afflicted with bronchitis, allergies, colds, and flu nine months of the year, I tried over-the-counter medication but it did not help much and made me feel worse.
While participating in an encounter group in 1967, I was introduced to a group of teachers and graduate students who told me about the book You Are All Sanpaku (1965). I read it and followed the recommended Asian health food diet. It helped restore my health within a month or two. I could not believe it! For the first time in years I was not sick most of the time!
Curious as to why a macrobiotic diet worked for me but not for everyone who tried it, I continued eating natural foods and reading recently published books about Asian healing arts, including acupuncture, moxibustion, and acupressure massage. This was exciting stuff! Here was a scientific approach to medicine, but not the “science” I had studied. (By now I had gone for years without getting sick.)
I learned acupressure massage and moxibustion techniques during the late 60’s, while working various jobs in electronics and traveling coast-to-coast so that I could study with various teachers. Simultaneously, I began teaching groups of friends about cooking natural foods, acupressure, and massage–first in Chico, California, later in San Diego.
At first I taught natural living so as to meet others of like mind, but teaching massage and treating friends and students was very satisfying and good practice. I became fascinated with the human body and studied western and eastern methods of massage and anatomy. I realized I had been touch-deprived as a child, and my new avocation put me in situations where I could trade massage with other massage therapists. What a life! I came to see that soon I could quit my electronics job and start a new career in massage.
I always enjoyed touching friends during conversations. I am a touchy-feely kind of guy. I would truly love a new career, talking with and touching another person during therapy. Helping others with my hands satisfied me more than fixing computer systems.
As an electronics engineer, I had always been good at fixing the most difficult computer problems–both hardware and software. Now I got to use my scientific training and engineering skills to study and fix health problems holistically.
I loved working in electronics. My problem-solving skills and interest in studying technical manuals satisfied my need to understand complex systems and get them to work the way they are designed to work or re-design them to work properly. The symbolic logic of science fascinated me. I wanted to know the latest emerging technologies and often worked on leading edge projects. How curious that now I was studying and practicing an ancient science.
My quick and lasting recovery after years of poor health and life threatening illnesses puzzled me. Why did the macrobiotic diet work with me but not others I knew?
In 1980, because of my reputation as an acupressure teacher and shiatzu massage therapist, I resigned from my electronics job and started a massage practice. It just so happened an acupuncture school opened in San Diego around this same time. I knew I wanted to help people more than anything. In my continued search for natural ways to maintain health, I enrolled in the new acupuncture school, California Acupuncture College, and was in the first graduating class of 1983.
After I graduated from acupuncture school, I realized I could live anywhere and remembered how I had enjoyed living in Chico while studying macrobiotics. After a couple years of practice in San Diego, I made the big step opening the East/West Health Center in Chico, California in 1985 where I taught classes in the Asian healing arts, especially acupressure massage.
I wanted an acupressure book with easy-to-follow instructions so that my patients and students could help themselves and their family and friends. I thought why not expand my massage training manual written for my acupressure massage class in 1982? Therefore, in the 90’s, I researched and wrote a manuscript on acupressure massage.
After the manuscript was reviewed by several people who had not taken my classes, some told me how they used the information gained while editing to relieve their sister’s PMS and their mother’s headaches. I concluded that I should take the leap, and in 2001 I published Pain’s Healing Secret to sell in my office, in my classes, and on the Internet.
During my years of practicing on patients with the most painful conditions, I was continuously amazed at the effectiveness of moxibustion when treating chronic and acute pain.
I have always found the combination of acupressure and moxibustion to be more effective than either one alone. Over the years I have developed a system I call moxa pressure massage. I have been teaching classes on this technique over the last year, and a training manual. So I researched and wrote an ebook titled Moxibustion for Pain.
I became curious as to why moxa stick therapy was barely mentioned while in acupuncture school, and even more curious, why indirect moxa techniques are rarely taught in acupuncture schools today. When I met acupuncturists coming out of school–they would point out the risks of second and third degree burns and office fire insurance.
Michael Turk is a nationally known practitioner, teacher, and author who lectures on the use of acupuncture, massage, and moxibustion to treat chronic pain and disability.