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Acupuncture gained popularity and recognition in the United States when the press followed President Nixon into China in 1974. There, representatives of major US news networks witnessed and reported on several demonstrations of serious surgeries being performed with acupuncture as the only anesthetic. While these demonsrations didn't teach the American public how Acupuncture works, it did make the term a household word and drove millions of people into clinics for treatments when conventional medicine failed. But acupuncture is far more than just a pain-blocker... it is one of the fundamental methods of healthcare in all of Asia, and one of the most profound healing modalities in the world.
The Origins of Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be tranced back as far as the Stone Age in China, when stone knives and pointed rocks were used to relieve pain and diseases. These instruments were known by the ancients as "bian." In the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) an Analytical Dictionary of Characters "Shuo Wen Jie Zi" describes the character "bian" as meaning a stone to treat disease. Later these stones were replaced by needles made of bamboo and slivers of animal bone, then finally in the Shang Dynasty bronze casting techniques made metal needles possible, which conducted electricity (and qi). This led to the mapping of the meridian system or "channels" of energy within the body.
(Historical Time Line).
A summary of medical knowledge, the "Huangdi Nei Jing" or "Yellow Emperer's Classic of Medicine" compiled in 475-221 BC, describes the use of acupuncture and moxibustion, pathology of the meridians and viscera, acupuncture points, indications, contraindications and the application of nine kinds of needles. In fact, acupuncture was a large part of the entire compilation of medical knowledge at that time.m The famous Chinese surgeon, Hua Tuo, was an expert in acupuncture, and it was during his time period (Han Dynasty) that the "tsun", a measurement system that uses the width of a joint of the patient's own finger was developed to help locate the acu-points more accurately.
Acupuncture developed rapidly and was systematically researched during the Western dynasties. A book appeared around 400 AD called "Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing" "A Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion", which described the names and number of points for each channel, their exact locations, indications, and methods of manipulation. Although medical advances and modern technology has helped to refine the art, his text describes the basic point locations that are still used in modern Acupuncture and Acupressure.
In the Sung, Kin and Yuan dynasties (960-1368 AD) the text "Tong Jen Shu Xue Zhen Jiu Tu Jing" or "Illustrated Manual on the Points for Acupuncture and Moxibustion as Found on the Bronze Figure) written by Wang Wei-yi, made detailed studies and observations of 657 points on the human body. Wang also sponsored the casting of two life-size, hollow bronze figures with the surface marked with channels and exact point locations. With these models, the teaching of acupuncture flourished and spread through the country, and the established practice of herbal medicine began to adopt the channel and meridian theories into their practice. With this common theory between the two leading health disciplines, the medicine of China was quickly transformed as both schools contributed to the extensive library of data being collected and recorded.
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