A microsystem in acupuncture is any part of the body from which you can treat the entire body. The Chinese, very early on, recognized the symmetry of the human body. They noticed that our hands look similar to our feet and also move and work in a similar way. Our forearm looks very similar to our lower leg and so on. They also realized that parts of the body look similar to the entire body. They noticed this especially in the feet, the hands and the ear (imagine an upside down baby image in the ear, imagine the back of the hand as the human back, the front as the gut area, the fingers as the arms and legs). There are many such microsystems but perhaps the most common are the ear, used in aricular acupuncture, and the foot used in reflexology. This is why in reflexology the entire body can be treated by rubbing the feet. We use ear acupuncture every day in our clinic. We might use needles in the back to treat back pain and add the back point in the ear to make the treatment more effective. We often get asked why we typically treat just one ear with the needles. This is because each ear represents the whole body so you don't need to do both of them. Korean hand acupuncture is also a commonly used microsystem where usually just the hand is needled in a typical treatment.
Monte Jackson, owner Acupuncture Center of Richmond