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Precisely how Old is Acupuncture? Demanding the Neolithic Origins Principle


Although westerners often consider this traditional Chinese treatment technique a “new” form of folk medicine, acupuncture is so ancient in China that its beginnings are unclear. According to Huangfu Mi (c. 215-282 AD), author of The Systematic Typical of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, needling therapy was first applied during China’s Bronze Time, over five thousand years ago. He or she attributes its invention to be able to either Fu Xi or perhaps Huang Di (the Orange Emperor), two legendary results of the Five Emperors Time (c. 3000-2070 BC). Current scholars generally believe acupressure is much older, originating more than ten thousand years ago in China’s Neolithic Age (c. 8000-3500 BC).

In actuality, acupressure may not be as ancient seeing that has generally been supposed. A reconsideration of all extant documents and recent archaeological finds indicates that acupuncture could date back a mere 2100 to help 2300 years, first showing during China’s Warring Declares Period (475-221 BC) and also rapidly maturing during the American Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD).

Questioning the theory of the generally recognized origin.

The moment-accepted theory concerning the Neolithic origins of acupuncture depends on two premises. The first keeps that bian shi, customized sharp-edged stone tools that appeared during China’s Neolithic Age, were used for a young form of needling therapy and a lot of inventions of metal smelting. It is known that bian shi stone tools were utilized for several early surgical procedures, starting during the Neolithic Grow older and continuing through the Developed Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). Several descriptions connected with bian shi stone therapies appear in one of China’s initial medical works, The Orange Emperor’s Inner Classic of drugs (Huang Di Neijing, hereafter referred to as the Neijing) (c. 104-32 BC). It has been imagined that these Neolithic stone health instruments were precursors to the metal acupuncture needles installed during China’s Iron Age.

However, ancient documents and new archaeological evidence indicate this bian shi stone applications were flat and knife-like in form, used generally to incise abscesses to release the pus or to draw blood (1). They were applied as precise scalpels to cut, rather than seeing that needles to puncture, and have had nothing to do with needling therapy. According to the Code connected with Hammurabi, the ancient people of Mesopotamia also used shaped bronze knives to be able to incise abscesses over 4,000 years ago.

Prehistoric Chinese folks possessed needles made of different materials, ranging from crude thorns and quills to bone fragments, bamboo, pottery, and natural stone. But just as the history of the chef’s knife is not the history of surgical procedures, the invention of tiny needles and acupuncture are usually two entirely different things. Tiny needles have historically been very commonly used tools of the way of life for constructing garments worldwide. Medically, needles are used to assemblée incisions just as making up apparel with darners; hollow syringe needles (as differentiated originating from a solid needle used in acupuncture) are applied to inject essential fluids into the body or pull them from it, but pricking a solid needle into the physique

to treat illness seems extremely strange and enigmatical. In English, “to give an individual the needle” means dispensing or irritating someone. Many prefer not to be punctured with needles and connect needling with pain and damage. Many plants and pets have evolved thorns or quills as powerful guns for protection or harm. Needles were even intended for punishment in ancient Cina. By trial and error, healers globally have found treatments for problems and other diseases independently, for instance, herbs, roots, gloves, rubs, blood-letting, and surgical procedures. However, acupuncture alone is different for the Chinese. Considering the one-of-a-kind Chinese origin of acupressure, it is reasonable to imagine the invention of acupuncture wasn’t related to the availability of sometimes sewing needles or bian shi stone scalpels through China’s Neolithic Age.

The other premise supporting the theory on the Neolithic origins of acupuncture treatment holds that acupuncture advanced as a natural outgrowth involving daily life in prehistoric instances. It is thought that through the process of fortuitous accident and repeated empirical experience, ?t had been discovered that needling various details on the body could effectively handle various conditions. However, this assumption is lacking in both equally essential historical evidence and a logical foundation.

It is recognized that ancient people were conscious of situations in which physical issues were relieved after unrelated injuries. Such a case had been reported by Zhang Zhe (c. 1156-1228 AD), one of the four eminent physicians of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties (1115-1368 AD) and a specialist within blood-letting therapy: “Bachelor Zhao Zhongwen developed a severe eye problem during their participation in the imperial evaluation. His eyes became red-colored and swollen, accompanied by blurry vision and severe discomfort. The pain was so intolerable that he contemplated death.

1 day, Zhao was in the teahouse having a friend. Suddenly, a stovepipe fell and hit your pet on the forehead, causing the wound to be about 3-4 cun in length and letting large amounts of dark purple bloodstream. When the bleeding stopped, magic had occurred. Zhao’s eyes stopped hurting; he could start to see the road and was able to go back home by himself. The next day can make out the ridge involving his roof. Within numerous days, he was utterly hauled. This case was cured without intentional treatment but merely accidental trauma (2). very well

If acupuncture gradually developed due to such fortuitous accidents, China’s four thousand years of documented history should include numerous comparable accounts concerning the discovery of acupoints and their properties. However, my extensive search from the immense Chinese medical cannon and other literature has produced only this single situation. This story provides, at most, an example of blood-letting treatment, which differs in some crucial regards from acupuncture. Blood-letting therapy aims to take out a certain amount of blood. But when puncturing the body with tiny solid needles, nothing is added to or deducted from the body.

Blood-letting therapy constitutes universal. Throughout the recorded record, people worldwide have had identical experiences with beneficial results involving accidental injury. They have designed healing methods based on the basic principle that injuring and inducting bleeding in one part of the human body can relieve problems within the area. The ancient Greeks and Romans developed venesection and cupping based on the breakthrough that bleeding is beneficial in events such as fever, headache, and

disordered menstruation. Europeans throughout the Middle Ages used bloodletting as a panacea to prevent and treat disease. Detailed information was given concerning the most favorable nights and hours for blood-letting, the correct veins to be stolen, the amount of blood to be taken, plus the number of bleedings. Blood was usually taken by launching a vein with a lancet, but sometimes by blood-sucking leeches or using cupping vessels. Blood-letting using leeches is still practiced in some parts of Europe and the Middle Far east. However, nowhere did all these blood-letting

methods develop into a specific and comprehensive system similar to acupuncture. If acupuncture therapy arose through the repeated empirical experience of unintentional injury, it should have developed worldwide rather than just in China.

Each historical evidence and reasoning indicate no original relation between the development of components and techniques for making fine needles and the invention of acupuncture therapy. It is also clear that the repetitive experience of fortuitous accidental injuries was not a primary factor in the introduction of acupuncture. Therefore, based on such faulty property, the generally approved theory concerning the Neolithic roots of acupuncture must be incorrect. It is now essential to reconsider when acupuncture does, in fact, first appear and subsequently mature.

Reconsidering evidence

If acupuncture did certainly originate during China’s Neolithic Age, references to it ought to appear throughout China’s very first written records and archaeological relics. However, this is not the situation.

Early cultures believed the entire world to be filled with the unnatural and developed various divination strategies. During China’s Shang Dynasty (c. 1500-1000 BC), divination was practiced using burning animal bones in addition to tortoise shells with moxa or other materials. Oracular pronouncements were then inscribed for the bone or shell using resulting crackles. These épitaphe have survived as the initial examples of written Chinese people. Among the hundreds of thousands of written oracle bones and covers, 323 incorporate predictions concerning over thirty diseases. However, non-e of these épitaphe mention acupuncture or any different form of treatment.

Règle of the Zhou Dynasty (Zhou Li), written during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), records in detail the official ceremonies and regulations of the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1000-256 BC), including those concerning remedies. Royal doctors at that time were divided into four categories: diet advisors, who were responsible for the rulers’ food and drink; doctors of interior medicine, who treated conditions and disorders with grain and herbs; surgeons, or perhaps yang Yi, who dealt with problems such as abscesses, wide open sores, wounds, and cracks using zhuyou (incantation), medicine, and debridement (using jewel or metal knives to help scrape and remove Marcia and necrotic tissue); in addition to veterinarians, who treated pets or animals. But this document likewise contains no references to help acupuncture.

Neijing (c. 104-32 BC) is the first well-known work concerning acupuncture. Classic consists of two parts: Suwen – Simple Questions, in addition to Lingshu – the Nonsecular Pivot, also known as The Classic, connected with Acupuncture (Zhen Jing). The two are concerned primarily with the principle and practice of acupuncture treatment and moxibustion. Although authorship of the Neijing is caused by Huang Di, the renowned Yellow Emperor (c. 2650 BC), most scholars take into account that this masterwork, which usually contains excerpts from greater than twenty pre-existing medical treatises, was compiled between 104 BC and 32 BC, during the latter part of the Western Kent dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). The comprehensive and highly

produced nature of the medical method presented in the Neijing \leads scholars to believe that needling therapy has an exceptionally very long history, probably reaching prehistoric times. The original editions of the ancient texts found in the compilation of the Neijing have been lost, and with these, the opportunity to further illuminate the particular question of when acupuncture treatment first appeared. Still startling new archaeological facts unearthed in China in the early 1970s and nineteen-eighties reveals the actual state of Chinese medicine before the Neijing and challenge existing assumptions about the Neolithic origins of acupuncture treatment.

In late 1973, fourteen health-related documents, known as the Old Medical Relics of Mawangdui, were excavated from Severe No. 3 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan Province. Five documents were hand-copied on silk, and four were written on bamboo slipping. The exact age of the Historical Medical Relics of Mawangdui has not been determined. However, a new wooden tablet found in often the grave states that the death was the son of Excellent Minister Li Chang with the state of Changsha and was

buried on January 24, 168 BC. Often the unsystematic and empirical dynamics of the material contained in the papers indicate that they were prepared well before their interment with 168 BC, probably throughout the middle of the Warring Claims Period (475-221 BC). The point is it is inevitable that these healthcare documents pre-date the Neijing (compiled c. 104-32 BC), making them the oldest acknowledged medical documents in existence. All these documents were probably missing sometime during the Eastern Damien Dynasty (25-220 AD) because no mention of them continues to be found from this time till their rediscovery in 1973.

Another valuable medical discovery, The Book of the Meridians (Mai Shu), was excavated from two ancient tombs at Zhangjiashan in Jiangling County, Hubei Province, in 1983. These ancient text messages, written on bamboo moves and exceptionally well preserved, had been probably buried between 187 and 179 BC, around the same time as the Mawangdui artifacts. There are five documents in most, three of which (The Traditional of Moxibustion with 12 Yin-Yang Meridians, Methods of Heart rate Examination and Bian Gemstone, and Indications of Loss of life on the Yin-Yang Meridians) are generally identical to the texts bought at Mawangdui.

There is abundant data to show that the authors of the Neijing used the earlier healthcare texts from Mawangdui along with Zhangjiashan as primary personal references, further indicating the antiqueness of these relics. For example, Phase 10 of the Lingshu portion of the Neijing contains a discourse on the meridians and their problems that is very similar, in both contact form and content, to that present in the Classic of Moxibustion using Eleven Yin-Yang Meridians, one of several documents found at both Mawangdui and Zhangjiashan.

Of course, typically, the Neijing did not simply recreate these earlier documents but alternatively refined and developed these people and introduced new beneficial methods. The earlier Classic involving Moxibustion with Eleven Yin-Yang Meridians is limited to moxibustion. At the same time, Chapter 10 of the Lingshu section of the Neijing mentions needling therapy, or maybe acupuncture, for the first time. Although the health care texts preceding the Neijing discuss a wide variety of healing approaches, including herbal medicine, moxibustion, fomentation, medicinal bathing, bian stone therapy, massage, daoyin (physical exercises), xiangqi (breathing exercises), you (incantation), and in many cases surgery, these earlier docs contain no mention of acupressure.

Suppose needling therapy originates much ahead of the Neijing (c. 104-32 BC). In that case, the medical docs unearthed from Mawangdui and Zhangjiashan, probably employed as primary references with Beijing’s authors, should also have extensive discussions of acupressure. However, they do not. This evidently indicates that acupuncture was not yet used at the time the Mawangdui and Zhangjiashan

paperwork was compiled. Of course, it isn’t possible to draw an action picture of the state regarding acupuncture early in the American Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) based solely on the medical relics from Mawangdui and Zhangjiashan. But the proven fact that these documents were regarded as valuable enough to be left with the deceased indicates they reflect general health-related practice at the time.

The Traditional Records (Shi Ji) (c. 104-91 BC) by Fosa Qian contains evidence that will acupuncture was first used roughly one hundred years before the collection of the Neijing (c. 104-32 BC). The Historical Information, China’s first comprehensive background, consists of biographies from the time of the renowned Yellow Emperor (c. 2650 BC) to Emperor Wudi (156-87 BC) of the American Han Dynasty. Among these are generally biographies of China’s a couple of earliest medical practitioners, Bian El cual and Cang Gong. Bian Que’s given name is Qin Yuen. It is identified that he lived from 407-310 BC, during the late Warring States Period (475-221 BC), and

was a contemporary of Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC), the father of Western remedies. Bian Que’s life has been surrounded by an aura of mystery, making it difficult to differentiate fact from legend. His / her name means Wayfaring Magpie – a bird that symbolizes good fortune. It is said to make fish. An old man gave Bian Qual several esoteric medical written words and an herbal prescription and disappeared. Bian Que needed the medicine according to the mysterious visitor’s instructions. Thirty days later, I can see through walls. After that, whenever he is diagnosed disease, he can see the internal organs connected with his patients’ bodies. Much like the centaur Chiron,

son connected with Apollo, who is sometimes believed to be the god of surgical procedures in the West, Bian Que is a supernatural figure, along with the god of healing. New stone relief from a tomb dating back to the Kent Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) depicts him with a people’s head on a bird’s physique (3). The Historical Information states that Bian El cual successfully resuscitated the royal prince of the State of Guo using a combination of acupuncture, excitation, and herbal medicine. Bian Que is thus thought to be the founder of acupuncture treatment and to have made the first saved use of acupuncture during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

More solid evidence attaches to the birth of acupuncture treatment by the famous ancient medical doctor Chunyu Yi (c. 215-140 BC), popularly known as Cang Gong. Cang Gong’s existence and work are referred to in detail in the Historical Files. The Historical Records declare that in 180 BC, Cang Gong’s teacher gave the pup several precious medical written words that had often escaped the book burnings of the last times of the Great Qin Empire (221-207 BC). At that time, adherents of the opposing schools of imagined were executed or expatriate, and almost all books, certainly not conforming to the rigid Legalist doctrines that dominated the particular Qin Dynasty,

were burned up. Although medical texts steered clear of the disaster, their owners continued to fear persecution. The restricted books that Cang Tantán received might have included quite a few whose titles appear in the particular Ancient Medical Relics regarding Mawangdui, such as the Classic connected with Moxibustion with Eleven Yin-Yang Meridians, Classic of Moxibustion with Eleven Foot-Arm Meridians, Method of Pulse Examination in addition to Bian Stone, Therapeutic Strategies for 52 Diseases, Miscellaneous A no-no Methods, and The Book connected with Sex.

Cang Gong’s story in the Historical Records examines twenty-five of his conditions, dating from approximately 186 BC to 154 BC. These primary case studies in recorded Chinese stories clearly show how the disease was treated 2100 years ago. Of the 25 cases, ten were incurable, and the affected individuals died as predicted. Of the fifteen that were cured, 14 were treated with herbal treatments, two with moxibustion combined with herbal medicine, one having needling, and one with needling

combined with pouring cold water on the patient’s head. It could be seen from this material that will Cang Gong used organic medicine as his major treatment and acupuncture and also moxibustion only secondarily. His or her use of moxibustion adheres totally to the doctrines recorded inside the medial relics from Mawangdui and Zhangjiashan. Although simply two of Cang Gong’s moxibustion cases are recorded in the Historical Records, it is identified that he was an expert in inside use

and that he wrote a book called Cang Gong’s Moxibustion. Unfortunately, this guide has been lost. Compared with their wide-ranging utilization of herbal medication and moxibustion, Cang Gongo applied needling therapy sparingly. Neither of Cang Gong’s two recorded acupuncture therapy cases mentions specific acupoints or how the needles had been manipulated, indicating that needling therapy at the time was still in the initial stage.

Although acupuncture therapy was not in everyday use throughout Cang Gong’s day, their two recorded acupuncture sufferers were cured with just one treatment, indicating the effectiveness of the developing therapy. The actual rapid development of acupuncture is soon to follow. By the time the actual Neijing was compiled (c. 104-32 BC), approximately 80 years after the time involving Cang Gong, acupuncture possessed supplanted herbs and moxibustion as the treatment of choice. Merely thirteen herbal prescriptions are generally recorded in Neijing, in comparison with hundreds utilizing acupuncture.

Archaeological excavations of Western Kent Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) tombs have yielded a variety of critical medical relics linked to acupuncture, the Neijing, and Historical Records. In August of 1968, nine material needles were excavated with Mancheng, Hebei Province, through the tomb of Prince Liu Sheng (? -113 BC) of Zhongshan, the elder sibling of Emperor Wu Dalam (156-87 BC) of the Traditional western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). Four of the fine needles are gold and very well preserved, while five tend to be silver and decayed to the extent that it was impossible to bring back them ultimately. The number and the shapes of the excavated fine

needles indicate that they may have been an exhibit of the nine varieties of acupuncture needles described from the Neijing. This possibility is usually supported by the fact that several more medical instruments were within the tomb. These bundled a bronze yigong (practitioner’s basin) used for decocting medical herbs or making capsules, a bronze sieve to filter herbal decoctions, and a silver utensil used to fill medicine (4). Although many prehistoric bone needles have been unearthed, the fact that they have eyes signifies that they were used for stitching. Some scholars have

deduced that prehistoric Chinese individuals may have used fine bone needles found with no eyes or even with points on both finishes for medical purposes. But I believe it is rash to draw such a conclusion dependent solely on relics that have lain buried for thousands of years. Instead, the eyes of the needles have likely decomposed over the millennia.


An intensive reevaluation of all extant books, documents, and archaeological relics unearthed since the 1958s confirms that acupuncture is not as ancient as generally assumed. Therefore it did not turn up and gradually developed in China’s Neolithic Age (c. 8000-3500 BC). Instead, fantastic invention arose quite all of a sudden and rapidly developed just about two millennia ago. All of the evidence indicates that within they appeared during the Warring Expresses Period (475-221 BC), before Bian Que, developed over the early Western Han Empire (206 BC-24 AD), before Cang Gong, and had thoroughly matured by the latter part of the Developed Han Dynasty, at the time of often the compilation of the Neijing (c. 104-32 BC).

The Developed Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) provided a fertile yard for the rapid growth and the maturation of acupuncture for a comprehensive medical system. The prior centuries had seen the particular blossoming of Chinese lifestyle during the intellectual give-and-take in the Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC) and Warring Declares (475-221 BC) periods. The following territorial unification of The far east by the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) laid a basis for cultural integration in the diverse states.

In China’s several thousand years of recorded background, the Western Han Empire was a period of intensive social and cultural advancement. Acupuncture therapy is unique. Its invention connected with acupuncture in China here was the result of the development in addition to the unique convergence of various aspects of Chinese culture make the best effort, including natural science, societal structure, human interaction, and most importantly, a holistic approach.

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