Acupuncture Information

Acupuncture is the procedure of inserting and manipulating filiform needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, "needle", and pungere, "to prick". In Standard Chinese, acupuncture is called 针砭 , or a related word, 针灸 , which refers to acupuncture together with moxibustion. According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are situated on meridians along which qi flows. Modern acupuncture texts present them as ideas that are useful in clinical practice and continue to inform the practice of acupuncture, but there is no evidence to support their existence and they have not been reconciled with contemporary knowledge about biology, physics or chemistry.

The earliest written record of acupuncture is the Chinese text Shiji with elaboration of its history in the second century BCE medical text Huangdi Neijing . Different variations of acupuncture are practiced and taught throughout the world. Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century but it remains controversial among conventional medical researchers and clinicians. Due to the invasive nature of acupuncture treatments, it is difficult to create studies that use proper scientific controls. Some scholarly reviews have concluded that the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment can be explained largely through the placebo effect, while others have suggested some efficacy in the treatment of specific conditions. The World Health Organization published a review of controlled trials using acupuncture and concluded it was effective for the treatment of 28 conditions and there was evidence to suggest it may be effective for several dozen more, though this review has been criticized by several scientists for bias and a focus on studies with a poor methodology. Reports from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine , the American Medical Association and various government reports have studied and commented on the efficacy of acupuncture. There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles, and that further research is appropriate.

Acupuncture's origins in China are uncertain. One explanation is that some soldiers wounded in battle by arrows were cured of chronic afflictions that were otherwise untreated, and there are variations on this idea. In China, the practice of acupuncture can perhaps be traced as far back as the Stone Age, with the Bian shi, or sharpened stones. In 1963 a bian stone was found in Duolon County, Mongolia, pushing the origins of acupuncture into the Neolithic age. Hieroglyphs and pictographs have been found dating from the Shang Dynasty which suggest that acupuncture was practiced along with moxibustion. Despite improvements in metallurgy over centuries, it was not until the 2nd century BCE during the Han Dynasty that stone and bone needles were replaced with metal. The earliest records of acupuncture is in the Shiji with references in later medical texts that are equivocal, but could be interpreted as discussing acupuncture. The earliest Chinese medical text to describe acupuncture is the Huangdi Neijing, the legendary Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine which was compiled around 305–204 B.C. The Huangdi Neijing does not distinguish between acupuncture and moxibustion and gives the same indication for both treatments. The Mawangdui texts, which also date from the second century BC though antedating both the Shiji and Huangdi Neijing, mentions the use of pointed stones to open abscesses and moxibustion but not acupuncture, but by the second century BCE, acupuncture replaced moxibustion as the primary treatment of systemic conditions.

Wikipedia, Acupuncture, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acupuncture (as of Mar 31, 2010)

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