Rule

Published in Isthmus, the weekly newspaper of Madison, Wisconsin

December 3, 1999

The New Face of Medicine

Read the responses to this article!

Xiping Zhou's integration of Chinese and Western medical traditions is the wave of the future.

COVER STORY

Xiping Zhou, a practitioner of Chinese and Western medicine, is the first acupuncturist on staff at a Wisconsin hospital.

By VESNA VUYNOVICH KOVACH
Photos: ERIC TADSEN


“Inhale,” says Dr. Zhou.

Between immaculately groomed fingertips, Zhou holds an acupuncture needle: a sharpened shaft of wire two inches long and six times thicker than a human hair. Half its length is fortified with a coil of wire, a tiny hilt. A triple O-loop of wire stands straight up from the top of the coil.

As if aiming a very small pool cue, Zhou cocks his hand back from the wrist once, twice, three times. “Exhale,” he says, then drives the needle one quarter inch into the bare flesh of the small of the back of his patient, Gail Marker, who’s lying face down on a padded massage table.

The bangs of his short hair swept to one side of his forehead, Zhou rips open another five-needle blister pack of sterile, single-use needles. He walks around Marker, inserting more needles, sometimes stopping to adjust one, twirling it minutely and asking, “Feels okay?” Eventually, 15 needles bristle from Marker’s scalp, her back, her legs, her feet.

To six of the needles, Zhou attaches little alligator clips connected by wires to a six-volt battery. He adjusts knobs that control the intensity and the frequency. “Is that too much?” he asks.

“You can turn it up a little more,” Marker says.

“How’s that, okay?”

“Fine.”

“You’re sure? Okay, now you rest,” says Zhou. He shuts the door behind him, leaving Marker in the dimly lit room, with softly playing traditional Chinese music.

To a Western ear, this music isn’t easy: no repeating rhythmic figures or melody loops. Clearly, though, each note, isolated in its own long moment or else tumbling forth in part of a rich, cascading arpeggio, fits exactly in an ordered, if inapprehensible, pattern.

Chinese-born Xiping Zhou (pronounced “See-ping Joe”), 39 years old, is a master of traditional Chinese medicine, which, like the music, is ancient, complex, and, to the typical Westerner, unfathomable.

But unlike most acupuncturists in America, Zhou is a doctor of Western medicine as well--in China, he earned an OMD (Oriental Medical Doctor), a five-year degree which permits him to practice both types of medicine there. He’s a full professor at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Racine (the only acupuncture school in the Midwest that can grant a master’s degree), and the founder of the American Alternative Healthcare Center, with branches in Madison and Milwaukee. He also teaches Tai Chi, meditation, acupressure, and massage through the UW-Extension and the UW Memorial Union.

BACK TO INDEX     |       NEXT PAGE

Read the responses to this article!

Cover story:
The new face of medicine

“Inhale,” says Dr. Zhou. Between immaculately groomed fingertips, Zhou holds an acupuncture needle: a sharpened shaft of wire two inches long and six times thicker than a human hair....

Copyright 1999, 2000 by Vesna Vuynovich Kovach. All rights reserved.