The Development of Acupuncture

| March 31, 2010 | 0 Comments | 1,626 views

The Development of Acupuncture

The Development of Acupuncture

Chinese medicine is thousands of years old. The earliest recorded use of acupuncture is from the reign of the Yellow Emperor, and is supposed to be from about 2600 BC. The ancient Chinese noticed that certain areas of the skin became more sensitive when a person had a certain health problem. Over time, the Chinese started recording the location of the sensitive areas for a particular symptom or set of symptoms. These areas were associated with the internal organs whose malfunction caused that particular symptom. When outlines of the human body were drawn, these sensitive points were connected in ways to explain the functioning of the human body. The functioning of the body includes the various major organs of the body, and also the entire functional system, including the energy for the organ.

Looking at a text on acupuncture, there will be a number of spots, which relate to the sensitive areas described above. There will also be lines, or "meridians", which connect the various organs and indicate how the energy of the organs flow from one to another. The concept of energy (the "Qi") is fundamental to the application of acupuncture. According to the Chinese, we are given a certain amount of Qi at birth, and this is dissipated by daily living, and restored by ingesting food and air. In the foundation of acupuncture, the imbalance of this energy at various points in the body is the cause of illness. The absence of this energy at some point is death. The Qi circulates through the body in a cycle, moving from meridian to meridian and organ to organ. This energy is constantly moving, dissipating, and being restored.

The use of the needles in acupuncture is to affect the energy level, and so the functioning, of an organ by stimulating or reducing its action. Some organs respond more directly and quickly than others, such as the liver. Acupuncture can be used for pain control, for stress relief, and for a multitude of other physical symptoms and diseases.

China was where the technique of acupuncture and its medical foundations began. Japan also has an extensive history of acupuncture as an accepted and effective treatment for their people. Japanese acupuncture has the same foundations as Chinese acupuncture, but several interesting differences in technique. Acupuncture traveled to Europe in the seventeenth century, being brought back by Jesuit missionaries who had lived in Beijing. Acupuncture did not receive wide acceptance at that point, though there were pockets of practitioners in several places in the West. Acupuncture got significant attention here only when M. Morant from France published many writings on acupuncture in the 1940s. The detail and volume of his writings caught the attention of western physicians, who started considering it for pain control.

Currently, acupuncture is widely accepted by western physicians in several categories, including pain control and stress relief. Indeed, for some operations no anesthesia is needed at all, just the services of an acupuncturist. This is a distinct advantage, in that the normal operation of the patient's organs is not altered by an artificial anesthetic. This work in the west has caused new interest and study in the land where acupuncture originated, in China. They have discovered many old, previously unknown texts, and are working on extending the applications. It is an exciting time for the field of acupuncture.


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