Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used
medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000
years ago, acupuncture began to become better known in the United
States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about
how doctors in China used needles to ease his abdominal pain after
surgery. Research shows that acupuncture is beneficial in treating
a variety of health conditions.
Acupuncture can be traced 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.
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 demonstrations
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.
In the last 25 years, acupuncture has become an increasingly
popular alternative therapy for a wide variety of ills in the United
States and many other Western nations. It is practiced legally in
most European countries and in the majority of states in the U.S.