Acupuncture came from two Latin words ‘acus’ and ‘pungere’, which means ‘needle’ and ‘to prick’ consequently. This is a technique which involves insertion of fine needles into specific body points in order to relieve pain. It is mainly used as a form of therapy all over the world although it has been very popular in China for ages. Aside from China, acupuncture is practiced in Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Vietnam.
According to Chinese beliefs, the acupuncture points follow an equation because all the points are located along the vital energy or qi. Studies show that the meridians or acupuncture points are not based on histology or anatomy. The medical concepts of acupuncture are hard to merge with today’s biomedical information. Acupuncture plays a very important role in patient evaluation.
Acupuncture is usually associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Studies regarding acupuncture started in the 20th century and through the years, these techniques have remained controversial among clinicians and researchers. Last year, Edzard Ernst and some of his colleagues concluded the efficacy of acupuncture but only in certain conditions. According to prominent organizations like the World Health Organization and American Medical Association, acupuncture is generally safe but it should be administered by licensed and experienced practitioners.
Studies revealed that acupuncture has been used since the Stone Age (3000 BC). The needles used back then were made from sharpened stones. Archeologists were able to find stone needles in Mongolia and other places in China which existed in 202 BC to 220 AD during the time of the Han Dynasty.
In the Alps, a mummy was found which had 50 tattoos all over the body. The tattoos were strategically placed on the acupuncture points. Scientists believed that acupuncture was practiced 5,000 years ago. In Eurasia, the practice of acupuncture can be traced back to the Bronze Age. In 1911, there was a Revolution in China during this time Western Medicine was established. Herbalism and acupuncture declined considerably but the population of China was quite large, so less fortunate people still depended on the techniques. Barefoot doctors became popular during that time.
There was a time in Chinese history when leaders ridiculed acupuncture because they wanted to push their people to be dedicated to science. The leaders believed that progress can only be achieved through science. Mao Zedong reversed such position. He said that acupuncture is a treasure and should be placed on a higher respectable level. More research regarding acupuncture was conducted especially about the effects of the technique in different illnesses, the ancient texts, the effect on the internal organs, and about anesthesia.
Through the combined efforts of researches, TCM was created. The Chinese believed that acupuncture is a vital part of the TCM together with tui na, herbal medicines, as well as other modalities.
Acupuncture is included in the medical system of China since the 1970s. Continuous research is still being conducted about the efficacy of the technique.
In the US, acupuncture is widely recognized and there exists an association called the National Acupuncture Association (NAA). The technique was popularized in the west through research presentations and seminars. The very first legal clinic for acupuncture in the US was created in 1972 and Dr. Yao Wu Lee opened it in Washington DC.
The acupuncture points are located on the 12 main meridians and another two in the 8 extra meridians. There are 14 channels through which blood or qi flow. Extra points exist but they don’t belong to any of the 14 channels and then there are the Ashi points or tender points.
The practitioner will first interview a patient and make careful observation. After the diagnosis, the TCM will be utilized. Diagnosis involves 4 methods – inspection, auscultation & olfaction, inquiring, and the palpation. Today, stainless steel fine needles are used in acupuncture. These needles are sterilized by autoclave or in ethylene oxide.
Now that you know where acupuncture originated and its degree of effectiveness, it’s for you to decide whether you use this alternative treatment. Keep in mind that this technique should be performed by experts, be very careful when choosing the right acupuncturist for you.