The room was filled with people suffering from neurological problems.

A celebrated singer had undergone heart and brain surgery and suffered a debilitating stroke. A teenager had cerebral palsy since she was a baby. A Las Cruces attorney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two decades ago. A former gymnast was paralyzed in a bicycle accident.

An Albuquerque farrier suffered intense pain after a horse landed on top of him. A baby was born with a severe chromosomal abnormality. A Corrales police officer lost the use of his legs when he was severely injured in line of duty.

The mood should have been somber. Instead, it was upbeat and full of hope.

The group — including many people from out of state — had gathered to honor doctors Jason and Linda Hao, and view a short film about their acupuncture technique that treats neurological disorders.

It was a full house at the Jean Cocteau Cinema on the Friday before Thanksgiving when invited patients and their families, acupuncture students and friends of the Haos met to view a 15-minute film, Modern Day Miracles — The curious art of neuro-acupuncture.

The film was made by Mark Medoff, a professor at New Mexico State University who won a Tony award for his Broadway play, Children of a Lesser God. In 1986, the play was made into a successful movie, and Medoff’s screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award.

Medoff’s short piece on the Haos’ neuro-acupuncture practice highlights 10 of their patients, most of whom were present at the showing. It explains how the doctors treat various neurological disorders by placing needles in their patients’ scalps.

Their technique is different from traditional acupuncture, in which doctors temporarily place a thin needle into a specific point on the body, usually far away from where the pain lies. In neuro-acupuncture, doctors needle areas of the scalp corresponding to parts of the brain damaged by stroke, trauma or disease.

The technique is only 43 years old, as compared to traditional acupuncture, which dates back more than three millennia. Its successes are becoming more widely recognized by mainstream doctors of acupuncture and by Western medicine.

Both Jason and Linda Hao studied scalp acupuncture from the Chinese doctors who developed it.

Linda Hao has a doctorate in acupuncture from Heilongjiang University in Harbin, northeast China. Jason Hao earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in traditional Chinese medicine from the same university, and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

Jason Hao first arrived in Santa Fe in 1992 to teach at the Southwest Acupuncture College. His wife and their son, David, soon joined him.

Today, they maintain offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, drawing patients from across New Mexico and beyond. People have come from as far away as Australia, Denmark and Ireland.

The Haos travel widely, teaching their technique to doctors around the world. They have demonstrated neuro-acupuncture at such famous institutions as Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Jason Hao is out of the office so often that it can take months get an appointment with him.

Friends and patients are helping the Haos start a neuro-acupuncture training program based in New Mexico, with the hope that if the doctors travel less, they will have time to treat more patients.

Stephen Hubert is on the board of the new nonprofit, and he spoke to the audience at the November film screening.

He explained he was a successful trial lawyer in Las Cruces when, in 1992, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He became weaker and his vision deteriorated. He was prescribed with several cutting-edge drugs during clinical trials and university studies. The drugs caused lesions on his legs and cancer on his chest.

Doctors said Hubert would become blind and disabled. Because he had lost his sense of balance and suffered from chronic fatigue, he was unable to appear in the courtroom, and his law firm dissolved.

Then he heard about Jason Hao and commuted to Santa Fe once a week for treatment. He became stronger, and the health of his optic nerve improved. Today, he is a healthy man, able to see well, and back at work.

He told fellow Las Cruces resident Medoff about his experiences. Medoff’s granddaughter, Hope, was born with trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that affects 1 in 6,000 newborns with heart defects, malformed kidneys, developmental delays and problems eating. Most don’t survive.

As a newborn, Hope was in hospice, unable to sleep, on a feeding tube and hooked up to breathing and heart machines.

The Medoff family brought Hope to Albuquerque to see Linda Hao for treatment. Today, the 19-month-old is sleeping and eating well, off the medical devices and a happy baby.

Because of his granddaughter’s improvement after scalp acupuncture treatment, Medoff agreed to make his short film explaining the technique.

He told the audience about his family’s devotion to the Haos.

Other patients who spoke included farrier Joe Dee Wright. He explained that an accident “changed my whole life in an instant.” He was disabled for three years with severe and incurable pain after a horse landed on his back. “Then an instant with Dr. Linda changed my life again.”

Cassidy Moore, whose appearance gave no clue that she was a cerebral palsy patient who suffered a stroke at birth, came with her family from Texas to thank Jason Hao.

Before he treated her, she was paralyzed on her right side, had limited vision in one eye and was having trouble with her studies at school.

Now she can move and see well, and is making good progress with math.

Country and gospel singer Randy Travis also traveled from Texas for the event. Linda Hao treated him after he suffered a stroke, losing most movement and speech. The doctor says Travis can now walk without a stick, has less pain and was able to sing “Amazing Grace” in the treatment room.

In the front row at the theater was Jim Unger in his motorized wheelchair. A former gymnast, he was paralyzed from the neck down because of spinal injuries sustained in a bicycle accident. Today, with Jason Hao’s help, he can use his arms and lift his legs.

The musician for the event, Ricardo Anglada, was paralyzed on his right side after a stroke. Now after treatment, he can play his guitar again.

Mayor Javier Gonzales spoke at the event. His mother is a patient of the Haos. He told the group that the ties the doctors have to Santa Fe are “more than a doctor-patient relationship. They are a community relationship.”

He and several members of the new nonprofit board envision that a neuro-acupuncture center in New Mexico could be an economic driver for the state.

They hope to raise enough money for Medoff to make a full-length documentary on the Haos. With publicity and seed money for a fundraising campaign, they want to help the Haos start a certification program for neuro-acupuncture doctors.

Medoff’s short film is not available for public viewing yet, but the Haos hope to show it soon at an event in Albuquerque.

(10) comments

David S Riley

In the published JAMA meta-analysis mentioned involving 17,000 + individual patient visits analyzed from clinical trials (Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine.2012;172(19):1444-1453, "real" acupuncture worked better than "sham" acupuncture which worked better than placebo.

Of course there have been smaller studies that differed. On balance "real" acupuncture worked better than "sham" acupuncture which worked better than placebo. Of course this effect was for back pain and osteoarthritis. Other conditions may have different results. Controlled trials over time will hopefully sort this out.

David Riley MD

Beverly Harris

The reporting in this article was extremely biased. There have actually been studies that show "sham" acupuncture working just as well as "real" acupuncture. That is, needles placed at random have the same effect as needles placed by an acupuncture practitioner. In other words, you could have your spouse or friend poke you all over and save a good amount of money--though of course you would have to "believe" that your spouse or friend can produce miracles. The need for belief is crucial.


Jim Unger

Beverly your comments are unfounded I was one of the people in this article and I can guarantee you that doctor Hao does indeed have a great medical effect on all of these cases. I had acupuncture in Nebraska and it did nothing but when I came to doctor Hao he put 6 needles in my scalp and immediately my arms regained function I was completely paralyzed from the neck down before that.

Joseph Hempfling

Can testify first hand that there is something to it but it needs more study. Years ago my secretary suffered a massive annuerism while at work and we got her to the hospital where she was medically stabilized and while in Rehab. was referred to a Japanese Accupunturist who did practiced scalp accupunture and could see the immediate results for myself. And this was after just 20 minutes just as the doctor said we would. She could raise her then paralyzed arm above her waist for the first time.
Unfortunately she moved out of state and back to New Jersey to be with her family and so we were never able to follow up. But what I saw and esperienced was indeed "miraculous" and I don't use that word loosley.

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Carlos Vasquez

just go on over to St Victims,
after they save you, have a nice lunch downstairs

Papalo Quelites

A conventional medicine analogy would be surgical advancements through the discovery of new techniques.

A very good analogy, David. Most new practices ("advancements" you call them) in surgery are never subject to controlled trial, do not require FDA approval, and eventually are dropped as useless, or less financially rewarding than the next fad. Examples abound; arthroscopic knee surgery for every knee niggle is an example. But while it was all the rage, your surgeon would swear she had seen it work miracles. This is called "eminence based medicine" to contrast it with "evidence based medicine".

Eminence based medicine is very prevalent, not just in the miracle world, but that does not justify a wholly uncritical article in the SF New Mexican.

David S Riley

The overall effects of acupuncture in clinical practice appear to be clinically relevant as published in the JAMA journal - Archives of Internal Medicine in 2012—a meta-analysis of more than 17,000 individual patient visits analyzed from clinical trials (Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine.2012;172(19):1444-1453

Neural acupuncture—scalp acupuncture—is a contemporary acupuncture technique integrating traditional Chinese needling methods (not utilizing meridians) with Western neuroanatomy that was discovered in China in the 1950s. It has been used to treat acute and chronic central nervous system disorders including Bell’s palsy, cerebral palsy, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease and stroke. A conventional medicine analogy would be surgical advancements through the discovery of new techniques.

Jason and Linda Hao are licensed in NM as Doctors of Oriental Medicine. Linda Hao also has a Clinical Doctorate and Jason Hao an MBA as well.

Neuro-acupuncture references: peer-reviewed indexed medical literature:

• Hao JJ, Hao LL. Clinical applications of scalp acupuncture for paralysis: an excerpt from Chinese scalp acupuncture. Glob Adv Health Med. 2012 Mar;1(1):102-21. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.1.017.
• Hao JJ, et al. Treatment of multiple sclerosis with Chinese scalp acupuncture. Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Jan;2(1):8-13. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2013.2.1.002.
• Hao JJ, et al. Chinese scalp acupuncture for cerebral palsy in a child diagnosed with stroke in utero. Glob Adv Health Med. 2012 Mar;1(1):14-7. doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2012.1.1.005.

Book reference
• Jason Ji-shun and Linda Ling-zhi Hao Hao JJ, Hao LL. Chinese Scalp Acupuncture. Blue Poppy Press.

David Riley MD - Internal Medicine

Michael Marvier

Interesting article regarding a “new” form of acupuncture referred to here as neuro-acupuncture. I have tried the more traditional form of acupuncture and it didn’t do anything for me and they did stick some needles into my scalp. So is this neuro-acupuncture all about the placement of needles? How much study does that take? The practitioners Jason and Linda Hao are referred to as “doctors” having received most if not all of their education in China. The article states that Linda received a doctorate in acupuncture from a university in China. However, there is no mention of Jason Hoa receiving any type of “doctor” degree. I don’t think a business degree (MBA) from the University of Phoenix qualifies one to be called doctor. I would like to hear from some qualified medical doctors on the subject and I also think a controlled study of neuro-acupuncture is a necessity. Having ten patients, some of which were celebrities, show up to “honor doctors for neuro-acupuncture “Miracles” well… Let’s just say I’m not convinced.

Jim Unger

Some people just aren't convinced about anything I was one of the people in this article and I can guarantee you that the scalp acupuncture practiced by doctor Jason and doctor Linda works

Thomas Franks

I couldn't agree more with Papalo Quelites. This entire article about a controversial alternative therapy which is not vetted by established science, is given the same treatment as, for example, Salk's discovery of polio vaccine. Though acupuncture has helped many, and cannot be dismissed completely as pseudo-science, these alleged "cures" should not be treated as established fact. In a critical reasoning class they would come under the heading of merely "anecdotal evidence". This paper REGULARLY treats controversial claims about all sorts of things with the same seriousness as established scientific claims---a practice it should examine. BTW, I am NOT saying there is no value in acupuncture That, too, would be a scientific claim for which there is insufficient evidence. Many have been helped by it; it's just that we need more impartial evidence on both sides..

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