The history of acupuncture

According to Chinese medicine, optimal functionality of each of our organs depends on healthy blood flow to deliver oxygen and lymphatic drainage to remove toxins, as well as a sufficient flow of life-force or energy, or chi.

The history of acupuncture

by Dr. Sima Aidun — 

Acupuncture is an ancient medicine with a history dating back at least 4,000 years, its longevity a testimony to its efficacy. Following the 1911 Revolution in China, Western medicine was introduced and acupuncture and Chinese herbology were systematically suppressed as anachronistic.

Later, however, acupuncture was widely used again during the Long March (1934-35) and helped maintain the health of the Red Army despite harsh conditions. As a result, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) made sure that acupuncture was reinstated as a significant element of China’s medical system.

In 1950, Mao officially united Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western medicine, and acupuncture was established in many Chinese hospitals. Today, acupuncture continues to play an important role in the Chinese approach to medical care. China has taken the lead in researching all aspects of acupuncture, from its application to its clinical effects.

Acupuncture was introduced in Europe in the 18th century, though anecdotal evidence shows instances of European use well before that time. The well-known medical publication, , included information about the practice in its very first issue, published in 1800. In the United States, acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention has been increasingly practiced since the 1960s. It also has been the topic of extensive study by major educational institutions, including Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities.

According to Chinese medicine, optimal functionality of each of our organs depends on healthy blood flow to deliver oxygen and lymphatic drainage to remove toxins, as well as a sufficient flow of life-force or energy, or chi.

Meridians are channels that act as highways carrying chi to each organ. If there is blockage inside a meridian, the flow of chi to the organ is compromised, depriving it of energy and preventing optimal functionality, thus resulting in manifestation of disease. Acupuncture points are located along the path of each meridian. The needle is inserted at these points to trigger the release of the blockage and reestablish the flow of energy, thus restoring health.

Acupuncture has undoubtedly drawn the attention of scientific communities around the world, leading to much effort and deployment of resources to investigate the mechanics of this ancient medicine. Some European efforts to test the validity of acupuncture have focused specifically on points and meridians, the very core concepts of acupuncture.

Biopsies of acupuncture points reveal higher concentrations of vessels and nerves in comparison to non-acupuncture points. When Technitium 99, an isotope used in nuclear medicine, is injected into acupuncture points, it follows the path of the corresponding meridian pattern, whereas it follows a local distribution pattern when injected into non-acupuncture points.

A group of scientists from the University of Vermont Department of Neurology worked on the actual action mechanism of acupuncture. Based on their work, once acupuncture needles are inserted and twisted, connective tissue wraps around the needle. As a result, sensory nerves embedded in connective tissue are stimulated, sending signals to the brain to produce chemicals such as endorphins, which act as a natural pain killer and immune enhancer, and serotonin which acts as a mood-enhancing agent. Local substances that dilate blood vessels also are produced to increase blood flow to the area.

Many health conditions can be helped by acupuncture, including: infertility, muscle and joint diseases, anxiety, depression, stress, pain, female health issues and headaches.

 

Dr. Sima Aidun is a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale, Ariz., who focuses on female health issues from puberty to menopause, and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. 480-860-4792 or www.naturalsolutionsforwomen.net.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 4, August/September 2007.

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