What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is over 3000 years old. No one knows exactly where it came from or how it was developed. But it is known for sure that some Chinese doctors ate various unknown plants in China in ancient times in order to test their effects on their own body, for the benefit of others. Thus, the Chinese people feel they owe the dedicated ancient Chinese doctors who were willing to put themselves at risk for others a debt of gratitude. We owe them gratitude as well as Chinese medicine helps many people in the United States as well.
It has been suggested that the origins of acupuncture occurred when someone had a typical muscle ache and it felt good to rub the area. In order to rub the area harder for relief, perhaps, a rock was picked up and pressed into the site, then a thinner rock, or a thin bone to penetrate the skin. These were the early needles, which over time have evolved into our stainless steel sterile needles of today. After thousands of years of observation, points of connection were discovered, called meridians and various treatments were devised. While acupuncture is practiced systematically and with a firm purpose and intent, it is also an open system which also allows for some creativity and individual variation and is willing to incorporate other points of view. It is a practical system which never rejects "what works."
Stimulation of specific points
Acupuncture involves the insertion of small needles, smaller in diameter than a human hair, into various points of the body, called acupuncture points, in order to alleviate symptoms of various conditions, for health prevention and for overall health. Acupuncture colleges teach over 350 acupuncture points on the body, but almost any part of the body can be considered for needling if it may be of benefit to insert a needle there. In this case, they would be called Ahshi points, and not regular acupuncture points.
Since acupuncture is so old and has been used in so many regions throughout the world, there are great variations in how acupuncture is taught and practiced, depending upon the region, the country, the particular dynasty and the illnesses that were prevalent at the time in which the treatments were invented. To give examples, Japan has developed a more gentle treatment approach because many of their practitioners were blind. The French have developed a complex system of acupuncture involving insertion of needles into the outer ear. Only physicians are allowed to perform acupuncture in France, whereas in China, acupuncturists are considered to be "technicians," and Chinese herbalists are considered the real Chinese doctors. American psychiatrist Dr. Michael Smith from New York helped bring acupuncture to the United States in the 1970s, developing a simple protocol of five needles in each ear, which has been successfully used for several decades for addictions at Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York. Chinese medicine's history is thousands of years old and will never be completely understood by any single person thus instilling a need for continuous learning and a fascinating interest in its history.