Dr. James Horton
May 11, 2000
Chinese Medicine and Religion
As with all things we know little about there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding acupuncture. The part people see the most is a person with needles sticking out of their flesh. Understandably being wary of sharp pointed objects being wielded by a complete stranger, this is often an obstacle that needs to be over come. The best way to do this is by becoming educated about how acupuncture is performed, where it came from, what it does, some of the benefits vs. the problems, and the different views about it. Though out the many different texts on acupuncture you find there is room for interpretation on how to perform it, what to use, and even where the pressure is placed. One thing you will find in common among these texts is this, acupuncture works to varying degrees.
The earliest recordings of the use of acupuncture go back 2,000 years. In China it is widely expressed that it has been in use for 4,000 years. The origins go back as early as the Stone Age where abscesses were punctured by sharp stones or bone fragments. ( History ) When you experience pain it is an instinctive reaction to apply pressure to that location. Such as when you get a toothache. Also the body may experience pain where the infection is not localized. Your body naturally sends you warning signals that something is wrong. The Ancient Chinese utilized these warnings, and developed an intricate system of these points over time through observation. It is easy to infer that applying pressure to relive pain with your hands evolved into the use of needles instead.
Tortoise shells have been found and dated back to 1500 B.C. during the Shang Dynasty - recording the use of acupuncture. The first actual written text acclaiming acupuncture is called Nei Ching Su Wen. It is written into two basic sections. The Su Wen, or easy questions and the Lung Shu, or hard questions. This book basically lays out all the different points, but it is mostly a book on concept and theory. The Nei Ching Su Wen lays the basic rules of philosophy and treaties on health. These philosophies branched form two mainstream religions that abounded during the Warring States period in Chinese history. The first is Confucianism. The teachings of this " religion " stress that the body is scared and are against dissection or surgery. This makes acupuncture a perfect means of curing ales because by applying pressure to the external body, you can relieve internal disease. The other major train of thought is called Taoism. In this pool of thought comes the idea of Yin and Yang. Maintaining harmony is the stressed idea; you must have a balance between the forces at work. Interconnection of all things is also very important to the theory of how acupuncture works. The passive, nonviolent theme is promoted, thus supporting the external use of small needles. The unique way the diagnosis is made stems from an emphasis on detailed observation. Thus acupuncture is a process, which is not merely clinical. ( History ) The European definition for acupuncture means needle pressure. Acupuncture is really a Dutch term coined by William Ten Rhyne in the 17th century. ( history ) In china acupuncture is represented by the character Chen". Which means to "prick with a needle." ( History ) There are many different ways to apply the pressure. It is not necessary to use the needles, often is more effective to use your fingers. ( Leong 72 ) There is a method called Moxibustion, which is the use of heat by itself or in combination with needles. An acupuncturist will use the dried leaves of Artemisia vulgaris. This method used to leave scarring, now it is utilized by burning a small cone on specific points, or heating the needle before insertion. ( Leong 87 ) Friction, suction, or impulses of electromagnetic energy may also be used to stimulate acupuncture points. ( Alternative ) Of all the different techniques...