Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that dates back some 10,000 years. It is a technique used to stimulate trigger points in the body by the use of needles to help alleviate pain and treat various diseases.
Documents show that the practice began during the Stone-Age era, where sharp-edge stones and tools are used to puncture and treat abscesses. Then later, the technique evolved to using needles made from metals such as gold, silver, and bronze.
The philosophy of acupuncture is taken from the teachings of Taoism. It promotes the balance of yin and yang by acquiring harmony between the human body and its surroundings. The first book that was compiled with a system of diagnoses and treatment about acupuncture is the Classic of Internal Medicine book of the Yellow Emperor, dating between 100 BC and the first AD. The text shown support of the Taoist philosophy and handed-down traditional medicines over the centuries.
It also established precise anatomical locations of the meridians, or the Qi energy or vital life force that flowed within the body. Originally, there were 365 pressure points that were corresponding to the days of the year. The book also describes the origin of various diseases, and what acupoints should be used to treat them.
Years later, acupuncture continued to develop and was slowly introduced to various parts of the world, including Europe and the United States. It became the standard treatment in China, along with the use of herbs, moxibustion or the use of heat therapy, diet, and massages.
Another significant milestone of acupuncture was during the Ming Dynasty where they formed the new basis of the treatment. Ming ordered to cast a bronze statue marking all the 365 pressure points, which was used for cross reference. They also published a book about the success of acupuncture and moxibustion technique, which was subsequently used by future dynasties. Aside from indicating the various pressure points, the book also contains precedences of the two techniques and what mobilization strategy is best used.
Acupuncture was popularized extensively when Sun Simiao, a renounced physicist from the Tang Dynasty, compiled another book for the clinical experience of acupuncture. He produced a chart of three views, a multicolored chart of all the channels through the body. It was then that acupuncture was extensively accepted by the masses, and its use was widely spread. And historically, the number of pressure points grow to 2,000 from 365.
Medical Exchanges of Acupuncture
The spread and exchange of acupuncture started when China sent their doctors to various countries, including Korea, Japan, and the European countries. They held frequent seminars and lectures, and shared a great number of books to promote all Chinese Medicine.
Between the 500 AD and 700 AD, China introduced acupuncture to Japan. They presented copies of books about acupuncture classics and importance of acupuncture points. Through this, the Japanese government passed a law in 702 AD to fully study acupuncture and use it as their source of medicine.
The spread reached Korea in 1092, where the exchange of doctors and techniques was very rampant. The science behind acupuncture was also disseminated through other countries, such as India in the early sixth century. And it was only during the 16th century, when Europe accepted the benefits of acupuncture.
However, interest for acupuncture declined during the 17th century as it was believed to be an irrational medicine. This thought about the introduction of western medicines, but the knowledge and practice remained in central China.
The popularity of acupuncture Began in the United States only in the 19th century when a writer from the New York Times produced an article on how acupuncture brought tremendous relief from his chronic pain. He was amazed how acupuncture kept him a longer prolonged relief, far from the anesthesia and painkillers he was taking.
Although acupuncture is not thought as superior to western medicine, it is now widely accepted and believed to be effective. It is a holistic treatment that does not focus on the exact cause of any condition or illness. Rather, it patterns its treatment from the negative imbalances that the body endures thought about by its psyche, lifestyle, external pathogens, environment, and stressors.
It uses 12 meridian channels, which they believe is where our “Qi” or energy flows. And by inserting needles, these channels are stimulated, and the body is brought back to its balance. Studies even show that acupuncture remedies can increase pain-relieving hormones, such as serotonin and endorphins, that block pain sensation and inflammation. Acupuncture also proves to improve blood circulation and the immune system. Indeed, acupuncture is no longer an ancient practice, but a holistic treatment has proven to treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.