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Acupuncture: A Brief History

The first document that unequivocally described an organized system of diagnosis and treatment which is recognized as acupuncture is the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.


During the Ming Dynasty, the great Compendium of acupuncture and moxibustion was published, which forms the basis of modern acupuncture. In it are clear descriptions of the full set of 365 points that represent opening to channels, through which needles can be inserted to stimulate the flow of Qi.


Ancient concepts of Qi flowing in meridians have been displaced in the minds of medical practitioners by a neurological model, based on evidence that acupuncture needles stimulate the nervous system. Health in China was developed purely from observation of living subjects, because dissection was forbidden, and the subject of anatomy did not exist.


Acupuncture dates back over 5000 years, to 6000 BC. Evidence shows that ancient acupuncturists used sharpened stones and long sharp bones for skin penetration, as the first acupuncture needles.


In the past, with the discovery of iron, needles were eventually made out of iron, silver, gold and steel. The needles were disinfected and reusable. Today, acupuncture needles are made out of stainless steel, copper or gold plated. These needles are only used once, medical-grade, and disposable. There are different sizes of needles according to different points needing stimulation or muscle thickness.

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