These seven quick facts highlight the brief history of acupuncture.
1. Origins of Acupuncture
Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago. Documents discovered in the Ma-Wang-Dui tomb in China, sealed in 198 BCE, refer to the Chinese medicine system of channels.
2. Early Documents
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, dating from 100 BCE, was the first document that unequivocally described an organized system of diagnosis and treatment recognized as acupuncture. The concepts of channels where the Qi (vital energy or life force) flowed are well established by this time.
3. Acupuncture Points
Bronze statues dating from the fifteenth century reveal the acupuncture points still in use today. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion was published, forming modern acupuncture. This text provides detailed descriptions of all 365 acupuncture points. Needling these points, located along distinct channels, modifies the flow of Qi energy in the body, promoting healing.
4. Chairman Mao and Acupuncture
In 1949 Communist China, led by Chairman Mao, recruited acupuncture as a practical way of providing healthcare to China’s massive population. The government unified acupuncture theory and practice into traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), including herbal medicine. China established acupuncture research institutes in the 1950s, and treatment became available in acupuncture departments within hospitals.
5. The Spread of Acupuncture
Acupuncture spread to other countries at various times throughout history. In the sixth century, Korea and Japan adopted Chinese acupuncture and herbs into their medical systems. Acupuncture arrived in Vietnam through commercial routes between the eighth and tenth centuries. In the West, France adopted acupuncture when Jesuit missionaries brought back reports of acupuncture in the sixteenth century.
6. Acupuncture and America
In 1971, John Reston, a member of the US press corps, was given acupuncture for anesthesia during an emergency appendectomy in China. He was visiting China as part of the press crew for President Nixon’s official visit. Reston described his experience with acupuncture in a New York Times article. Subsequent teams of US physicians made fact-finding tours to China, assessing the efficacy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
7. Acceptance of Acupuncture
Acupuncture finally reached its present level of acceptance in the United States when a National Institutes of Health consensus conference reported that there was positive evidence for its effectiveness. Since then, significant research has shown the positive effects of acupuncture for conditions ranging from back pain to migraines, infertility to insomnia.
Are you intrigued by this brief history of acupuncture? If you would like to experience acupuncture for yourself, book an appointment online.
Keywords: brief history of acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine