A Brief History of Acupuncture Medicine

The roots of Acupuncture Medicine appear in the archeological record, dating back to nearly the 13th Century B.C.  That is over 3000 years ago!  A written tradition of medical theory and practice emerged during the Shang Dynasty in what would later become northeastern China in the Yellow River Valley.  Over the following millennia, Acupuncture Medicine evolved as new problems and diseases required new techniques, as each dedicated practitioner added their clinical wisdom to the combined body of knowledge, and as new technologies developed through trade and invention.


Acupuncture Medicine was adopted throughout Asia and finally brought west in the late 1600s by Jesuit Priests returning to France from China.  The term “Acupuncture” is attributed to 17th Century Dutch Physician Willem ten Rhine.  He combined the Latin words Acus (needle) and Punctura (to pierce or prick) to describe the needling technique he observed while serving with the Dutch East India Company.


In the summer of 1971, James Reston, the widely respected New York Times reporter, travelled to China to cover Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s historic diplomatic visit.  Aside from developments in foreign affairs, what really captured the public’s attention was Reston’s July 1971 article in the New York Times about how Acupuncture helped him recover from an emergency appendectomy that saved his life while he was in China.  Since that time, the reputation of Acupuncture Medicine has changed dramatically in the perspective of the general public as well as the medical and scientific communities, moving from an unfamiliar art form to mainstream therapy justified by effective results and a growing body of research.


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