How Mature is Acupuncture?

Tough the Neolithic Origins Theory

Although westerners often think of this traditional Chinese remedy modality as a"new" type of alternative medicine, acupuncture is indeed ancient in China that its origins are unclear. According to Huangfu Mi (c. 215-282 AD), author of The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, needling therapy was initially used during China's Bronze Age, more than five thousand years back. He attributes its creation to Fu Xi or Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), two mythical figures of the Five Emperors Phase (c. 3000-2070 BC). Modern scholars generally believe that acupuncture is a lot older, originating more than ten thousand years back during China's Neolithic Age (c. 8000-3500 BC).

Actually, acupuncture may not be as early as has generally been assumed. A reconsideration of all extant records and current archaeological finds indicates that acupuncture may date back a mere 2100 to 2300 decades, first appearing during China's Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and quickly maturing during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD).

Questioning the generally approved roots concept.

The currently accepted theory concerning the origins of acupuncture is based on two assumptions. The first holds that bian shi, specialized sharp-edged stone tools that arose during China's Neolithic Age, were utilized for an early form of needling therapy, prior to the invention of metal smelting. It's understood that bian shi stone tools were used for several of ancient medical processes, starting during the Neolithic Age and ongoing throughout the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). A number of descriptions of bian shi stone treatment show up in one of China's earliest medical functions, The Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic of Medicine (Huang Di Neijing, hereafter referred to as the Neijing) (c. 104-32 BC). It has been thought that these Neolithic rock medical instruments were precursors of those metallic acupuncture needles which came into use during China's Iron Age.

However, historical documents and new archaeological evidence clearly indicate that bian shi stone tools were flat and knife-like in form, used primarily to incise abscesses to discharge pus, or to draw blood (1). They were applied as surgical scalpels to reduce, as opposed to as needles to puncture, and had nothing to do with needling therapy.

Prehistoric Chinese individuals possessed needles manufactured of various materials, ranging from primitive thorns and quills to bamboo, bone, pottery, and stone. But as the history of the knife isn't the history of surgery, so the creation of needles and also that of acupuncture are two entirely different things. Needles have been among the most frequently used tools of daily life for building garments all over the world. Medically, needles are utilized to suture incisions as creating garments with darners, hollow syringe needles (as differentiated from a solid needle used in acupuncture) are applied to inject fluids into the body or draw them from it, but pricking a solid needle into the body to deal with illness seems quite strange and enigmatical. In English,"to give somebody the needle" means to displease or irritate somebody. Many men and women prefer not to be punctured with needles, and connect needling with pain and injury. Many plants and animals have evolved thorns or quills as powerful weapons for security or assault. Needles were used for punishment in ancient China. By trial and error, physicians around the world have discovered treatments for pain and other ailments independently, for cases, herbs, roots, wraps, rubs, blood-letting and surgery, but acupuncture alone is particular to Oriental. Thinking about the distinctive Chinese source of acupuncture, it is sensible to assume that the creation of acupuncture London wasn't regarding the availability of sewing needles or bian shi stone scalpels during China's Neolithic Age.

It's believed that through a process of fortuitous injury and replicated empirical experience, it was discovered that needling various points within the body could effectively treat various problems. However, this assumption is lacking in both fundamental historical evidence and a logical basis.

It's understood that ancient people were aware of situations where physical issues were relieved following unrelated injury. Such a situation was reported by Zhang Zihe (c. 1156-1228 AD), one of the four eminent physicians of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties (1115-1368 AD) and a specialist in blood-letting therapy:"Bachelor Zhao Zhongwen developed an intense eye problem during his participation in the imperial examination. His eyes became red and swollen, accompanied by blurred vision and severe pain. The pain was so unbearable that he considered death. Suddenly, a stovepipe dropped and hit him on the forehead, causing a wound roughly 3-4 cun in span and letting copious quantities of dark purple blood. When the bleeding stopped, a miracle had occurred. Zhao's eyes stopped hurting; he may see the road and was able to go home by himself. The next day he could make out the ridge of his roofing. Within several days, he had been completely recovered. This case was cured with no deliberate treatment but only accidental trauma (2)."

If acupuncture failed, in reality, gradually develop as a consequence of such fortuitous accidents, China's four million years of recorded history should include numerous similar reports regarding the discovery of the acupoints and their properties. However, my extensive search of this immense Chinese medical canon and other literature has given only this single case. In fact, this story offers at most an example of blood-letting treatment, which differs in some essential regards from acupuncture. The purpose of blood-letting therapy would be to eliminate a certain amount of blood. But when puncturing the body with solid needles, nothing else is added to or subtracted in the body.

Blood-letting treatment is universal. Throughout recorded history, people across the world have had similar encounters with the favorable results of unintentional injury, and also have developed healing methods based on the principle that injuring and causing bleeding in one part of their body can alleviate problems in a different area. The ancient Greeks and Romans developed venesection and cupping based on the discovery which bleeding is advantageous in cases such as fever, headache, and disordered menstruation. Europeans during the Middle Ages used blood-letting as a panacea for its prevention and treatment of disease. Thorough instructions were given concerning the most favorable days and hours to get blood-letting, the correct veins to be tapped, the quantity of blood to be taken, and the amount of bleedings. Blood was usually taken by opening a strand with a lancet, but sometimes by blood-sucking leeches or with the usage of cupping vessels. But, nowhere did these blood-letting systems develop into a detailed and comprehensive system similar to that of acupuncture. If acupuncture did indeed arise from repeated empirical experience of accidental injury, it ought to have developed all around the world, rather than only in China.

Both historical evidence and logic indicate that there isn't any causal connection between the development of materials and methods for making the invention of acupuncture. It's also apparent that repeated experience of fortuitous accidental injury was not a primary factor in the development of acupuncture. Hence, the generally accepted theory regarding the Neolithic roots of acupuncture, based as it is upon such faulty premises, must be incorrect. It is currently vital to reconsider when acupuncture failed, in fact, first appear and subsequently mature.

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