History of Acupuncture

 Birth of Acupuncture

acupuncture-chartAcupuncture is a method of  alternative medicine  that was originally invented in China thousands of years ago.  Acupuncture treats patients by the use of  thin, solid needles that are placed into acupuncture points in the skin. It is widely believed that stimulating these acupuncture points can redirect the path of qi through routes called meridians.  Unfortunately, scientific studies have  failed to link the benefits using qi, meridians and acupuncture points, However millions of people worldwide have fully adopted the treatment as an effective remedy for everything from back pain to arthritis.

The Spread of Acupuncture

After its initial birth in China, acupuncture practices quickly spread to Japan, Taiwan and Korea.  After these countries, acupuncture was adopted into Europe, notably in the Scandinavian countries, ultimately spreading to North America by some of the first settlers.  Evidence of acupuncture in Europe was discovered along with the 5,000 year old mummified body of the artifact widely called Otzi the Iceman whose intricate tattoos appeared to follow some paths currently thought to be qi paths.

 Modern Use of Acupuncture

The rise of popularity of acupuncture in the US is credited to a New York Times reporter called James Reston.  Mr. Reston was part of the Nixon party during a visit to China when he suffered a burst appendix and was forced to undergo an emergency appendectomy.   He was administered a standard anesthesia during the procedure but subsequently received acupuncture therapy as part of his post operating procedure and was amazed by the way it reduced his pain.  After making a full recovery James Reston made a full recovery and returned to the US where he wrote an article in the New York Times that popularized the practice of acupuncture in the United States.

Although scientific studies related to the medical benefits of acupuncture remain inconclusive, the first medical paper to declare a possible scientific benefit was published in a paper by Edzard Ernst in 2007 where the conclusion read   “the emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions”.  One thing is certain, the history of acupuncture has many chapters left to be written.

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