One of the eight branches of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture has been traced back at least 2,500 years. “Archaeologists have uncovered ancient stone needles dating back 5,000 years”.
If you ask most people, they might say that acupuncture started in China. That’s because The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine is the first paper that described the system that we know as acupuncture.
This dates back from approximately 100 BCE. This text is a compilation of the traditions that were handed down over the centuries, and it’s presented in the terms of the Taoist philosophy. It’s still cited to support certain techniques for therapy. The concepts when it comes to channels (conduits or meridians) inside which the life force or vital energy (Qi) flow are by now well established, even though the locations that are used for acupuncture points don’t develop until later.
Acupuncture continued being developed as well as codified as time went on and gradually became one of China’s standard therapies, along with massage, diet, moxibustion (heat), and herbs. There are 15th century bronze statues, used for examining and teaching purposes, that show the acupuncture points on the body which are used today.
The Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) saw the publication of the The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. This is what forms modern acupuncture’s modern basis. This document contains clear descriptions of all of the points which represent the openings to those channels in which the needles can be inserted so that the Qi energy’s flow is modified. This knowledge regarding disease and health was developed purely through observing living subjects, since dissection wasn’t allowed and anatomy didn’t exist.
China’s acupuncture interest declined in the 17th century and going forward since it was thought to be superstitious. The Imperial Medial Institute even excluded it by the Emperor’s decree in the year 1822. The skill and knowledge stayed, however, either as academic interest or to use every day by the rural healers. In the early 1900s, with the increasing acceptance in China of western medical practices, acupuncture’s final embarrassment arrived back in 1929 when it became outlawed, along with the other traditional forms of medicine.
After the Communist government’s installment in 1949, the more traditional medicine forms, including the practice of acupuncture, were reinstated. This could have been for nationalistic motives, however, also because they were the sole practical way of providing basic health services to the enormous population.
The different acupuncture methods came together to form traditional Chinese medicine, which included herbal medicine as well. Research institutes for acupuncture were established in China during the 1950s and the treatment became available inside the separate Western-style hospital departments.
Spread of acupuncture
Acupuncture spread to other countries during different time periods and through various routes. During the 6th century, Japan and Korea assimilated Chinese herbs and acupuncture into their own medical systems. Both of these countries retain these types of therapies to this day, mostly along with western medicine. Vietnam also adopted acupuncture when the commercial routes to China were opened during the 8th and 9th centuries.
France adopted the practice of acupuncture much sooner than other Western countries. The Jesuit missionaries reported acupuncture during the 1500s and French clinicians embraced it rather widely. Berlioz, the composer’s father, ran acupuncture clinical trials and then wrote about it in 1816. Today, French acupuncture has been influenced deeply by Souliet du Morant, a diplomat, who spent a lot of time in China, along with publishing a variety of acupuncture treatises from 1939 and on.
In 1971, a US press corps member received acupuncture during recovery from having their appendix removed while in China, where he was visiting to prepare for a visit from President Nixon. His description of the practice encouraged US physician teams to make fact-finding tours of China to assess the practice.
Since the 1970s, acupuncture has gained acceptance as an alternative to traditional Western medicine, for pain relief and for treating a variety of other health conditions like back pain, headache, nausea, and dental pain.
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