Scalp acupuncture is one of several specialized acupuncture techniques with a specific body location, taking its place alongside ear, nose, hand, foot, and wrist/ankle acupuncture. The more general acupuncture therapy is often called body acupuncture. Although the scalp has numerous traditionally-identified acupuncture points along several of the major meridians (notably the stomach, bladder, gallbladder, triple burner, and governing vessel), modern Scalp acupuncture differs from traditional acupuncture therapy. There are three basic features of scalp acupuncture that differentiate it from body acupuncture
Treatment zones have been mapped onto the scalp that are associated with body functions and broad body regions. The zones include a few standard acupuncture points, but the treatment principle for point selection is usually not based on the traditional indication for the point or associated meridian. In general, within a defined zone, the forward part of the zone (nearer the face) is used to treat the upper body, while the rear portion of the zone is used to treat the lower body. Functional zones, such as sensory, memory, and motor, are usually located at the back and sides of the scalp.
In Scalp acupuncture, the needles are to be inserted within a thin layer of loose tissue beneath the scalp surface, at a low angle of about 15–30 degrees, involving an insertion distance of about 1 cun [the cun is a variable unit of measure based on body size; about one inch for an adult]. Standard acupuncture of scalp points normally involves subcutaneous insertion up to a depth 1/2 cun or less (about 0.3–0.5 inches for an adult) at a high angle of 60–90 degrees.
For Scalp acupuncture, the needles are to be subjected to rapid stimulation, which may be carried out in a variety of ways, including pulling/thrusting, twirling, and electro-stimulation. Standard acupuncture applied to scalp points usually involves less rapid stimulation or moxibustion as the main stimulation technique. When using manual manipulation in modern Scalp acupuncture, it is common to stimulate the needles for 2–3 minutes at a time, with a rest period of 5–10 minutes between stimulations.