History of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of many therapeutic interventions utilized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The seminal TCM textbook, Huang Di Nei Jing (Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor or The Inner Canon of Huangdi), was compiled around 305-204 BCE (Fig. 16.1). This textbook covered the theoretical foundation of Chinese medicine (Unschuld 1985). It is composed of two volumes: Shu Wen and Ling Shu. Each volume has 81 chapters and is written in a question and answer format between the mythical Huangdi and his ministers. The first volume, Shu Wen, also known as "Simple Questions" basically covers the theoretical foundation of Chinese medicine and its association with diagnosis and treatment methods. The second volume, Ling Shu, also known as "Spiritual Pivot" mainly describes meridians, acupuncture points, and acupuncture techniques and has laid a solid foundation for clinical acupuncture theory. Due to the complexity and the depth of the original "Ling Shu," there were great discrepancies among the interpretations from generations to generations (DeWoskin 1983, Epler 1980, Farquhar 1994). Despite the differences in interpretation, there is agreement that acupuncture is not an ideological belief. It is a system of thoughts and

N. Vadivelu et al. (eds.), Essentials of Pain Management,

DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-87579-8_16, © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Figure 16.1 The ancient Chinese textbook.

practices that are based on investigating the natural phenomenon, understanding the principles of realism, and applying them to the prevention and treatment of human ailments. The instruments used for acupuncture in the ancient time are as illustrated in Fig. 16.2.

The first known European account of the use of acupuncture came from a 16th century Roman Catholic Church in Canton, China, and was reported by Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, and French missionaries. "A Treatise on Acupuncturation" was the first English text known to describe the practice of acupuncture that was published in 1823 by a surgeon named James Morss Churchill (Churchill 1821). It described the practice as having the most success in the treatment of rheumatic conditions, sciatica, and back pain. In 1972, Mr. James Reston describing his experience in acupuncture analgesia in a front-page article in The New York Times is credited with sparking an increased interest in acupuncture in the United States. This was followed by stories told by the physicians, who accompanied President Nixon on a

Nixon American President Acupunture
Figure 16.2 The instruments used in ancient time to perform acupuncture.

visit to China, where he witnessed open-heart surgery performed under acupuncture analgesia. This overwhelming press release soon led to scientific efforts designed to test the clinical effectiveness and elucidate the underlying mechanism of acupuncture for analgesia. In 1974, California became the first state to designate acupuncture as a legal experimental procedure (McRae 1982). In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed the status of acupuncture needles from Class III to Class II medical devices, i.e., acupuncture needles are regarded as safe and effective instrument by licensed practitioners. In 1997, the NIH gathered all available documentations published and a group of experts around the world to attest the clinical efficacy of acupuncture in various pain conditions (NIH consensus developmental panel on acupuncture 1998). Subsequently, the release of a consensus statement has enhanced the popularity and acceptance of acupuncture in the United States. Soon after, the establishment of the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has further supported the research endeavors aimed at exploring the scientific validity of using acupuncture for various pain problems and the underlying mechanism of acupuncture analgesia (www.nih.gov/about/almanac/organization/NCCAM.htm).

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