The Chinese describe acupuncture by the character 'Chen', which literally means 'to prick with a needle', a graphic description of this therapeutic technique. In spite of initial doubts about the efficacy of acupuncture, it has come to be accepted in the West with countries such as America and Canada using it in management techniques in hospitals as well as clinics.
More than two thousand years ago the ancient form of Chinese medicine known as acupuncture came to be used to alleviate pain and other illnesses, and which spread to Japan in the sixth century, where it is now practiced in earnest. Acupuncture, or needle puncture, is a European term invented by Willem Ten Rhyne, a Dutch physician who visited Nagasaki in Japan in the early part of the seventeenth century.
The first known acupuncture text is the Nei Ching Su Wen and there is a great deal of controversy about the exact origins and authorship of this book. The Nei Ching Su Wen is divided into two main sections, the Su Wen, or simple questions and the Ling Shu, or difficult questions. The book is also known by a variety of alternative titles such as the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, or the Canon of Medicine, but all these titles refer to the same basic text.
The ancient Chinese acupuncture Text of Haungdi Neijing gives all the lowdown on different acupuncture pathways known as jingluo (meridians) that are conducive to letting qi (energy) flow out of the body. Also, ancient Chinese acupuncture thinking revolved around the fact that the skin was the primary organ from where diseases entered the body and the best way to alleviate these illnesses was to punch holes in the skin in order to let the disease leave the body.
Additionally, ancient Chinese acupuncture manifested itself in the development in China of an irrigation system that was developed and which consisted of streams as well as canals. Comparing the human body to such canals, which were the conduits of energy flow, it was found that any obstruction would result in diseases, for which acupuncture is used to clear the blocked pathways and thus let the energy flow freely once more.
Ancient Chinese acupuncture pre-dates the recorded historical chronicles and is essentially routed in the tradition of Tao that is more than eight thousand years old, and in those times it was common to practice mediation as well as consider how energy flowed within and without the human body. This was the time when the legendary sage name Fu Hsi lived in the Yellow River area of China, who observed nature and in time got to formulate two lines that were the broken and unbroken line, which came to symbolize creation as well as reception.
However, ancient Chinese acupuncture took a dramatic turn when Huang Di – The Yellow Emperor discussed with his physician named Qi Bo the whole gamut of Chinese Medical Arts. After that, many changes took place and around the years 627 A.D. the famous physician Zhen Quan made revisions to the acupuncture texts of ancient Chinese acupuncture.
During the years 960 to 1279, Wang Weiyi penned The Illustrated Manual on Points for Acupuncture and Moxibustion that described more than six hundred acupuncture points as well as charted out the meridians and points that were to be used for learning acupuncture.
So, as you can see ancient Chinese acupuncture has developed slowly and steadily having much in common with nature that makes it a very good alternative method of treating illnesses and alleviating pain.
A discussion of the history of acupuncture is incomplete without mentioning moxibustion. Moxibustion is the burning on the skin of the herb moxa. The Chinese character 'Chiu' is used to describe the art of moxibustion, and literally means 'to scar with a burning object'. Moxibustion does not now involve scarring, but moxa is still used to provide local heat over acupuncture points. It is made from the dried leaves of Artemisia vulgaris and the Chinese believe that the older the moxa, the better its therapeutic properties. Moxibustion developed as a medical practice completely separate from acupuncture, although it is now very much a part of current acupuncture practice in China. It is used to treat specific types of disease and is applied over the same body points (acupuncture points) as acupuncture needles.
Moxa can be used in a variety of ways. Loose moxa is made into a cone and burnt on the skin, the cone then being removed when it is half burnt, to avoid blistering. It may also be burnt on ginger or garlic so that the skin is isolated from extreme heat, or a moxa stick may be used and burnt a centimeter or two away from the skin.