How Old is Acupuncture? Challenging the Neolithic Origins Theory

Although westerners often think of this traditional Chinese treatment modality as a “new” form of alternative medicine, acupuncture is so ancient in China that its origins are unclear. According to Huangfu Mi (c. 215-282 AD), author of The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, needling therapy was first used during China’s Bronze Age, over five thousand years ago. He attributes its invention to either Fu Xi or Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), two legendary figures of the Five Emperors Period (c. 3000-2070 BC). Modern scholars generally believe that acupuncture is much older, originating more than ten thousand years ago during China’s Neolithic Age (c. 8000-3500 BC).

In actuality, acupuncture may not be as ancient as has generally been assumed. A reconsideration of all extant documents and recent archaeological finds indicates that acupuncture may date back a mere 2100 to 2300 years, first appearing during China’s Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and rapidly maturing during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD).

Questioning the generally accepted origins theory.

The currently accepted theory concerning the Neolithic origins of acupuncture is based on two premises. The first holds that bian shi, specialized sharp-edged stone tools that appeared during China’s Neolithic Age, were used for an early form of needling therapy, prior to the invention of metal smelting. It is known that bian shi stone tools were utilized for a number of early medical procedures, starting during the Neolithic Age and continuing through the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). A number of descriptions of bian shi stone therapy appear in one of China’s earliest medical works, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic of Medicine (Huang Di Neijing, hereafter referred to as the Neijing) (c. 104-32 BC). It has been thought that these Neolithic stone medical instruments were precursors of the metal acupuncture needles that came into use during China’s Iron Age.

However, historical documents and new archaeological evidence clearly indicate that bian shi stone tools were flat and knife-like in form, used primarily to incise abscesses to discharge pus, or to draw blood (1). They were applied as surgical scalpels to cut, rather than as needles to puncture, and had nothing to do with needling therapy. According to the Code of Hammurabi, the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia used similarly shaped bronze knives to incise abscesses over 4000 years ago.

Prehistoric Chinese people possessed needles made of various materials, ranging from crude thorns and quills to bone, bamboo, pottery, and stone. But just as the history of the knife is not the history of surgery, so the invention of needles and that of acupuncture are two entirely different things. Needles have historically been among the most commonly used tools of daily life for constructing garments all over the world. Medically, needles are used to suture incisions just as making up clothes with darners, hollow syringe needles (as differentiated from a solid needle used in acupuncture) are applied to inject fluids into the body or draw them from it, but pricking a solid needle into the body to treat illness seems very strange and enigmatical. In English, “to give somebody the needle” means to displease or irritate someone. Most people prefer not to be punctured with needles, and associate needling with pain and injury. Many plants and animals have evolved thorns or quills as powerful weapons for protection or attack. Needles were even used for punishment in ancient China. By trial and error, healers throughout the world have found treatments for pain and other diseases independently, for instances, herbs, roots, wraps, rubs, blood-letting and surgery, but acupuncture alone is unique to Chinese. Considering the unique Chinese origin of acupuncture, it is reasonable to assume that the invention of acupuncture was not related to the availability of either sewing needles or bian shi stone scalpels during China’s Neolithic Age.

The Story of the Yellow River and Chinese Acupuncture

  1. Acupuncture: An extraordinary therapeutic method over two millennia old

Acupuncture treats diseases by the insertion of fine needles into the body. In July of 1971, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger made a secret trip to China to prepare for President Nixon’s historical visit. Among his entourage was James Reston, a journalist from the New York Times. While in China, Reston suffered an attack of acute appendicitis and underwent an appendectomy at the Beijing Union Medical College, established by the Rockefeller Foundation of New York in 1916. During the second night after the operation, Reston started to experience considerable discomfort in his abdomen.

With his approval, an acupuncturist at the hospital inserted and manipulated three long thin needles, one into the outer part of his right elbow and one below each knee. There was noticeable relaxation of the abdominal pressure and distension within an hour, with no recurrence of the problem thereafter. James Reston included a detailed description of his experiences with acupuncture in his dispatches from Beijing. This was the first such report to reach the English-speaking citizens of the United States, at least the vast majority who had no daily contact with Asians.

By contrast, acupuncture has been known and practiced in China for over 2300 years. Qin Yueren, the earliest recorded Chinese practitioner, is considered to be the founder of acupuncture. A biography of Qin Yueren is included in the Records of the Grand Historian (Shi Ji), the masterwork of the eminent Chinese historian Sima Qian (135 – ? BC). It is known that Qin Yueren lived around 407-310 BC, and was a contemporary of Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC), the father of Western medicine.

Qin Yueren traveled widely throughout the feudal states that compromised China during his time, treating men and women, old and young alike. As a result, he was given the auspicious appellation Bian Que, which means Wayfaring Magpie – a bird that flies here and there dispensing good fortune. Several carved stones, unearthed from a tomb dating back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), portray him with a human head and a bird’s body.

On one occasion, while passing through the State of Guo (present-day Shan County in Henan Province), Bian Que learned that the Prince of Guo had died and his subjects were preparing to inter him. After careful examination, Bian Que believed that the prince had merely experienced a type of deep coma known as deathlike reversal. He successfully resuscitated the patient by needling an acupoint on the vertex of his head, and become known for bringing the dead back to life. This was the first recorded use of acupuncture in China.

Acupuncture Schools – What You Should Know About Acupuncture Training

If you’re thinking about a career in acupuncture you’ll want to learn how and where you can earn a certificate or degree in acupuncture. Perhaps you’re already familiar with the field of acupuncture but if not you’ll want to find out all you can both online and offline. It’s thought that acupuncture has been practiced in China for at least 2,000 years and some think it’s probably been practiced at least 3,000 years or so.

First of all you’ll want to choose an acupuncture school that offers consultation services for its graduates. The schools that do, allow graduates after graduation, to consult with instructors regarding care of their patients. You’ll also want to check to see if your state is on the national list of about 49 acupuncture schools with accredited programs and you’ll want to find an acupuncture school that offers smaller classes.

Acupuncture schools that offer courses in traditional Chinese medicine often include related training or courses in traditional medicine, such as anatomy and physiology, body therapy, massage therapy, and other sciences. For naturopathy schools that offer acupuncture programs there is a list called the: List of Accredited Natural Medicine Colleges in North America. Check with the school you’re considering making sure they have a wide selection of study resources available so you can have all the essential acupuncture materials for a broad learning experience.

You’ll also want to find out what the acupuncture training, school and program options are in your home area. Try to find a school whose program emphasizes courses in traditional Chinese medicine because acupuncture is just one element of traditional Chinese medicine. There are a few acupuncture schools that teach acupuncture practitioners the five-element Oriental medicine approach to acupuncture, which is often used in conjunction with the traditional Western medical practices.

Acupuncture is used for: arthritis, headaches, migraines, to quit smoking, to lose weight , fertility, fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia, face lifts as in facial acupuncture, back pain, high blood pressure, pregnancy, cosmetic purposes, anxiety, panic attacks, Crohn’s disease, asthma and on dogs and other pets or animals as in veterinary acupuncture.

If you haven’t experienced acupuncture make to visit an acupuncture clinic to learn more about acupuncture. You might want to talk to an acupuncture specialist or naturopath about a possible acupuncture career also. Talk to the financial aid counselors at the acupuncture school or college you’re considering to see if they have any ideas or suggestions for scholarships, grants or education loans if you need to finance your training.

Before you commit to any acupuncture school or to any acupuncture training you can check out the “Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture” by Ellis, Wiseman, and Bosson. This excellent textbook is used in many acupuncture schools and acupuncture training programs and will give you a better idea if you’d like to pursue acupuncture as a career.
If you haven’t checked already may sure to check and see if you need a license to practice acupuncture in your state. You may not need a license. Get the facts first on which states require licensing. Note that each state and each discipline has its own criteria about how alternative medicine practitioners are to be professionally licensed, if at all.

Acupuncture Schools – Know Your Options Before You Commit

Besides licensing, if required, you can also be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; practitioners with this certification can use the title Diplomate of Acupuncture, professional abbreviation is Dipl.Ac. There is much to learn about the ancient practice of acupuncture. Most, but not all, states require students to complete a three to five year program from an accredited acupuncture school and then pass a state board exam in order to become licensed.

The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is the national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit Master’s-level programs in the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession; make sure the school you’re considering has this accreditation. You can call each school you’re considering and ask to speak to a counselor to find out the student-to-teacher ratio so you can get smaller classes. Acupuncture schools that offer courses in traditional Chinese medicine often include other aspects of traditional medicine, like anatomy, body therapy, massage therapy, and sciences.

Try to choose an acupuncture school that offers an extensive library of materials focused on traditional Chinese medicine. You want to find an acupuncture school that offers small classes. It’s important to get a complete picture of all the treatments offered by the acupuncture school to acquire the skills needed to be well-rounded and well-versed for your patients.

Acupuncture schools may offer the science and the philosophy of acupuncture too. There are just a few acupuncture schools that teach practitioners the five-element Oriental medicine approach to acupuncture, which is often used in conjunction with traditional Western medical practices. For naturopathy schools that offer acupuncture programs see a list of accredited Natural Medicine Colleges in North America.

Your economic burden may be lessened with financial aid in the form of federal student loans. Before you commit to any acupuncture school or to any acupuncture training you can purchase “Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture” by Andrew Ellis, Nigel Wiseman, and Ken Bosson. 484 pp., illustrated, Harcourt, 1991, paperback; this text book is used in many acupuncture schools and acupuncture programs and will give you an idea if you want to pursue acupuncture as a career. You may not need a license to practice acupuncture in your state; get the facts first on which states require licensing.

Consider contacting your local and health organizations to see if they know of any scholarships available. In order to qualify for federal assistance be sure to enroll in a school that’s accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). Take a look at acupuncture schools in your home area first; it will considerably cut down your expenses if you can study near your home.

Note each state and each discipline has its own strict rules about how alternative medicine practitioners can be professionally licensed. Acupuncture benefits are particularly effective at relieving or treating chronic muscle pain, stress, and PMS just to name a few symptoms. Another good textbook to review in advance of your decision is: “The Foundations of Chinese Medicine” a comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists. Maciocia, 528 pp. Illustrated, Harcourt, 1989.

Hopefully these tips will help you learn the newest information about acupuncture schools. Acupuncturists can expect to make about $45,000 per year starting out and can double that amount after a few years experience. And once you’re up and running –
licensed or practicing acupuncture as a student in training, never attempt to use acupuncture to treat potentially life-threatening symptoms such as extreme shortness of breath or chest pain; refer these patients to their doctor.

Alternative Medicine – Acupuncture Therapy Basics

Latest research found shows that acupuncture treatments are more successful in treating countless medical conditions. The costs of acupuncture treatments can cost hundreds of dollars to as much as thousands of dollars which really depends on the quality of treatments and the length of acupuncture treatments needed. In addition, there are a lot of acupuncture procedures that goes further than inserting a needle. More research has documented findings that it’s not completely known how acupuncture methods works entirely, however there are some points that acupuncture improves the production of endorphins that makes the entire body feel completely relaxed and help reduce stress.

Acupuncture treatments have documented to be great success in treating injuries related to tense, scarred or irritated tendons, nervous tension or muscles. It has also been found that people do not know that acupuncture procedures are good treatments for depression, allergies, stress, anxiety, insomnia and sinusitis. It is found that lately more people are looking into acupuncture therapy for weight loss.

Some evidence show that acupuncture procedures are very effective than inactive medications for relieving post-treatment pain and is maintained at follow-up. Acupuncture treatments take approximately 25 minutes, but again the acupuncture therapy can vary, depending on the patient’s condition. Most acupuncture treatments can also be provided simultaneously with other medical treatments, such as traditional Western medicine, chiropractic adjustments and or naturopathic prescriptions. However, it is quite general with the first couple of acupuncture treatments to have some sensation of great relaxation and also some mild incomprehension directly following the treatment.

Acupuncture therapy involves a sequence of weekly or biweekly treatments in an outpatient setting. It appears that acupuncture treatment is very useful as an individual treatment for several health conditions, but acupuncture also even more used in combination with other traditional Western medical treatments. Many studies have found that acupuncture treatment can reduce the number of Reynaud’s phenomenon; helps improve conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome; along with enhance other medical treatments for gout, if used with combined therapy.

There is an overwhelming majority of patients who find that acupuncture treatments are quite comfortable and exceptionally relaxing. Most patients actually fall asleep throughout treatment even though it is a quick procedure. An acupuncture method applies heat, needles, pressure and other acupuncture treatments to numerous locations on the skin called acupuncture points. Before beginning acupuncture therapy, ask the acupuncturist chosen about the quantity of treatments suggested and an estimated cost of the treatments.

Acupuncture treatments are becoming more accepted by the public and by physicians. Most acupuncture therapy is also practiced by a number of certified medical practitioners that belong to some professional Acupuncture organizations that publish semi-annual journals. The acupuncture procedures have been effective in a variety of areas in the health care field. In further research, studies on acupuncture treatment will not be only major for the health and welfare of the patient but also important for the advancement of medical science. Considerable controversy has encircled acupuncture; on the one hand, huge claims have been made for its efficiency, on the other hand, acupuncture has been critiqued for its absence of scientific standing.