Acupuncture in China can be traced back perhaps prior to the Stone Age where it was practiced with Bian Shi, sharpened stones. 5000 year old stone needles had been found by archeologists in Mongolia and at different points in time up till present.
�tzi, a 5,000-year-old mummy found in the Alps was found to have more than 50 tattoos on his body of which several where located on acupuncture points that would today be used to treat ailments �tzi suffered from. This is evidence suggests practices similar to acupuncture were practiced elsewhere in Eurasia during the early Bronze Age – possibly in parts of central Europe.
Acupuncture’s exact origins and time of development within China are not certain. Some medical text point to the practice being well established by 300 BC, other texts in 70 BC don’t mention it at all. Some experts believe the tools found by archeologists that were perhaps used as acupuncture needles more than 2500 years ago were in fact more likely use in another medical practice of bloodletting.
Legend states acupuncture was discovered by accident when soldiers injured by arrows found the arrows removed pain in seemingly unconnected parts of their body which resulted in research starting on the use of needles as pain therapy. This is more likely an urban myth as the combatant was more likely in great pain from the arrow, making other pain elsewhere in their body seem inconsequential.
Acupuncture made it way from China to Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other parts of East Asia. Christian missionaries brought acupuncture to the west in the 16th century, at least returning Portuguese missionaries did.
Recent History of Acupuncture
The Chinese communist party in 1968 described acupuncture as witchcraft along with many other forms of Chinese medicine, Chairman Mao later reversing this position, perhaps upon realizing their perceived value in the West. Acupuncture is now one of the most widely known and used forms of Chinese Medicine, along with Chinese herbal medicine.
With the worldwide spread of Chinese workers in the 19th and 20th century, acupuncture spread across the Globe often being employed in a traditional way as handed down through families not necessarily in the same way as approved by modern Chinese Traditional Medicine teachings.
The real boom in the West came in the 1970’s when the television program 60 minutes showed a woman in China having major surgery with acupuncture as her sole form of anesthesia. Shortly afterwards, most Western Countries were able to lay claim to a national acupuncture association.