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An Introduction to Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a unique medical treatment inherited from traditional Chinese medicine, has enjoyed a long history. Actually, acupuncture includes two kinds of treatment: stylostixis and moxibustion. Stylostixis refers to inserting the tips of needles at specific areas to stimulate acupuncture points, and moxibustion refers to burning special materials (moxa cones or rolls) or other substances on the skin to stimulate particular areas. Collectively, they are called acupuncture. For several thousands of years, it has been practiced to treat diseases and relieve pains. Based on these practices, the distinctive theories of channels and collaterals were founded to constitute the cream of Chinese medicine and claim a high reputation in the world.

The history of acupuncture can be traced back to the Neolithic Age. The Shan Hai Jing (Classics of the Mountains and Seas) has one of the earliest records about the use of stone needles. In the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, the therapy of acupuncture became widely accepted and there were many doctors proficient in the therapy application, of which Bian Que was an exponent. A small black-painted wood figure unearthed in a Western Han Tomb in Shuangbao Moutain, Mianyang, Sichuan Province, is the earliest real model object of human's channels and collaterals ever been found so far.

Acupuncture established itself as a specialty in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. The Illustrated Acupuncture Course with Acupoints on Bronze Figures, authored by a medical official named Wang Weiyi in the Northern Song period, was circulated nationwide. The book introduced the lifelike and elaborate teaching aid – bronze figure and proved itself to be a strong impetus to the academic development of acupuncture. Ming and Qing carried forward and reinforced the acupuncture theories, with improvements in techniques and tools advancing the development of the therapy of acupuncture.

Chinese acupuncture techniques were disseminated to Japan, Korea, India, and Arabic countries in as early as the Tang Dynasty, giving rise to variations with exotic features. Today, acupuncture is applied in more than 140 countries and regions throughout the world, playing a visible role in safeguarding the health and life of all the people.

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