A Brief History of Acupuncture
The origin of acupuncture can be traced back several thousands of years in Chinese history. Even in the Stone Age period evidenced by the discovery of "bien" (stone needle) being use to treat diseases by the ancient Chinese. Though the development of acupuncture art was slow, the theories and clinical practices had already become quite systematic in the Jin Dynasty, when Huang Fumi (215-282 A.D.) compiled the Zhenjiu Jia Yi Jing.
Acupuncture enjoyed wide and unchallenged popularity in China for over thousand years after which it began to encounter objection from the emperor of the Qing Dynasty. This happened when the emperor Dao Guang felt that it was an insult to his dignity to expose his body in order to receive acupuncture treatment. This personal problem led him to issued an order in 1822 to abolish acupuncture from the Imperial Medical College and banning its use in China. All the government officials who had to obey the emperor could not do anything but to ban acupuncture practice in China. But this emperor order to eradicate acupuncture practice in China was everything but easy, as the mass of population who benefited from the use thereof , could not do without it and so, the underground practice had been able to survive any form of ban. Shortly after the ban, this internal suppression of acupuncture practice from within was compounded by the new challenge of the coming of western medicine which was a lot more detrimental to the practice of and survival of acupuncture if it was not strong enough to withstand this new challenge. After the Qing Dynasty was overrun by the Goumindang government in 1912, more and more hospitals and clinics practicing Western medicine mushroomed in China as the new government favored the new Western medicine instead of the Chinese intrinsic medicine (the traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture). A quick action was under taken in 1912, to abolish Chinese intrinsic medicine altogether. Chan-yuen Chen of Hong Kong described in great detail in his Topical Treatises, 1983. Dr. Yu Yan, a medical doctor of Western medicine took the lead to influence a few Guomindang government officials to relentlessly abolish the Chinese intrinsic medicine. A special meeting of the Ministry of Health in 1929 passed a bill to restrict, to ban and eventually phase out Chinese intrinsic medicine in 6 stages. The bill angered all practitioners of Chinese medicine and their patients and the general public alike. The attacks from numerous newspapers and supporting government officials, plus the general appeal made by the medical workers of Chinese intrinsic medicine and the general public to the Nanjing government on March 22-24, 1929 not only overwhelmed them by remorse leading to immediate abrogation of the bill, and the subsequent legalization of Chinese intrinsic medicine in 1931 and 1936. Dr. Chen Chuan Ying, a prominent acupuncturist in Shanghai then, was organizer of the march for the right of acupuncture in Shanghai. (Nancy and Tiong Ling both started learning acupuncture from him in the late 1970s.)
Today China has 30,000 hospitals of Chinese intrinsic medicine with 35,500 hospital beds. There are 30 hospitals in China which use only acupuncture for treating patients. The total number of acupuncturists in China is about 90,000.
Perhaps the best way to answer if acupuncture work or not is to examine the situation in Japan. Japan is one of the most prosperous nations in the world. The most important reason which makes such a small country like Japan to become a leading industerial giant in the world is what we believe, in their being a race born with superior scientific mind. As a race, they have more interest to see matters that make scientific sense. With this in mind, let us see how the Japanese look at acupuncture and what have they discovered the usefulness of acupuncture.
Beside China, Japan is the first country to have known and used acupuncture. The Japanese have been involved in the use of Chinese intrinsic medicine for over a thousand years. Japanese usage of and the research on acupuncture is envied only by China. Over a thousand years of uninterrupted Japanese investigation, research, and scrutinizing on acupuncture and Chinese herbs with scientific evidences and compare the same with western medicine have led the Japanese to feel that the advantages and the potentials of oriental medicine deserve national attention. Thus, in 1982, the Japanese government decided to establish and fund "The Organization of Eastern Medicine Studies." Since then, diligent attempts have been under way to collect and analyze ancient Chinese medical works. Studies and research are also being conducted to use Chinese herbal medicine to combat 40 kinds of diseases for which Western medicine yields little or very poor results. All this has made the Japanese to give a so much higher priority to use Chinese intrinsic medicine which of course includes acupuncture acupuncture, than the Chinese. The following numerical data I cite from an investigation and analysis of "World Acupuncture and Moxibustion" 2014 can fully attest the truthfulness of this statement.
This figure means 40% of all medical doctors in Japan. And acupuncturists alone, there are 92,421 in Japan, and the fact is, less Japanese population actually has more acupuncturists than China. Not only that, among all Japanese medical doctors(Western medicine) , 84% also use acupuncture in their practice, and 71% of all Japanese hospitals also use acupuncture. Imagine, the chance for all Japanese hospital patients to be given acupuncture treatment in their hospitals is 67%. So, In Japan, acupuncture will never enjoy the popular status heretofore mentioned If acupuncture does not work well.
Acupuncture was also introduced to other Asian countries such as Japan and Korea as early as the second century and some sources dated it a bit later to the sixth century. The Chinese acupuncture techniques and herb medicine treatments were adopted by the Japanese and Koreans as their primary health care treatments for over a thousand years before Western medicine was introduced there.
Acupuncture was introduced to Europe in the 17th century, and now three centuries later, there are very few countries in the world where acupuncture is not being accepted and used as part of health care. Today, acupuncture as an alternative treatment is being used almost worldwide for a variety of ailments, diseases, and problems, the most common of which is for pain.
Content in this page is mostly taken from:
(1) Everything You Want To Know About Acupuncture.
By Tiong H. Ling and Nancy T. Ling, 1985.
(2) World Acupuncture and Moxibustion:
An Investigation and Analysis of Global Application,2014.
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