HISTORY OF ACUPUNCTURE IN CHINA
Acupuncture is a very ancient form of healing which pre-dates recorded
history .The philosophy is rooted in the Taoist tradition which goes
back over 8000 years. The people of this time period would meditate
and observe the flow of energy within and without.They also were keen
to observe man's relations with nature and the universe.There were many
sages of this period, but the most legendary was Fu Hsi, who lived in the
Yellow River area of China approximately 8000 years ago.
These symbols represented the two major forces in the universe - creation
and reception - and how their interaction forms life.This duality was
named yin-yang and they represent the backbone of Chinese Medicine
theory and application.Fu hsi then discovered that when yin-yang fuse,
a creative action occurs, and this gives birth to a third aspect.
the eight trigrams and then 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching (Book of Change).
The I-Ching shaped the thinking for years to come and every influential
book on Chinese Medicine is based upon its fundamental philosophy.
The primitive society of China is divided into two time periods-
(10,000-4000 years ago).During the Old Stone Age knives were made
of stone and were used for certain medical procedures.During the New
Stone Age, stones were refined into fine needles and served as
instruments of healing.
The most significant milestone in the history of Acupuncture occurred
during the period of Huang Di -The Yellow Emperor (2697-2597).
In a famous dialogue between Huang Di and his physician Qi Bo, they
they discuss the whole spectrum of the Chinese Medical Arts.
The Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine).
The Nei Jing is the earliest book written on Chinese Medicine.
It was compiled around 305-204 B.C. and consists of two parts:
1. The Su Wen(Plain Questions) -9 volumes - 81 chapters
The Su Wen introduces anatomy and physiology, etiology of disease,
pathology, diagnosis, differentiation of syndromes, prevention, yin-yang,
five elements, treatment, and man's relationship with nature and the cosmos.
2.: The Ling Shu (Miraculous Pivot,Spiritual Axis)- 81 Chapters
The Ling Shu's focus is Acupuncture, description of the meridians,
functions of the zang-fu organs, nine types of needles, functions of the
acupuncture points, needling techniques, types of Qi, location of 160 points.
evidence of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Bronze needles
were excavated from ruins, but the bian stones remained the main
form of needle.
During the Warren States Era(421-221 B.C.) metal needles replaced
the bian stones. Four gold needles and five silver needles were found
in an ancient tomb dating back to 113B.C. The Miraculous Pivot
names nine types of Acupuncture needles.The Historical Records
notes many physicians practicing Acupuncture during this time.
Another milestone for this period was the compilation of the Nan Jing
(Book of Difficult Questions).The Nan Jing discusses five element
theory, hara diagnosis, eight extra meridians, and other important topics.
From 260-265 A.D., the famous physician Huang Fu Mi, organized
all of the ancient literature into his classic text -Systematic Classics
of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. The text is twelve volumes and
describes 349 Acupuncture points.
most influential text in the history of Chinese Medicine.
Acupuncture was very popular during the Jin, Northern,Southern,
Dynasties (265-581A.D.). For generations the Xu Xi family were
known as the experts in the art of Acupuncture.During this time period
important texts and charts enhanced knowledge and application.
Acupuncture experienced great development during the Sui (581-618)
and Tang (618-907) Dynasties.Upon request from the Tang
Government (627-649A.D.), the famous physician Zhen Quan revised
the important Acupuncture texts and charts.
Emergencies (650-692). This text includes data on Acupuncture from
various scholars. During this period Acupuncture became a special branch of
of medicine and practitioners were named Acupuncturists. Acupuncture
schools appeared, and Acupuncture education became part of the Imperial
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279),the famous physician Wang Weiyi
wrote, The Illustrated Manual on Points for Acupuncture and
Moxibustion. This book included the description of 657 points.
He also casted two bronze statues on which meridians and points were
engraved for teaching purposes.
The Ming Dynasty (1568-1644) was the enlightening period for the
advancement of Acupuncture. Many new developments included:
1. revision of the classic texts
2.Refinement of Acupuncture techniques and manipulation
3.Development of Moxa sticks for indirect treatment
4.Development of extra points outside the main meridians
5.The encyclopedic work of 120 volumes- Principle and Practice
of Medicine was written by the famous physician Wang Gendung
6.1601 - Yang Jizhou wrote Zhenjin Dacheng ( Principles of
Acupuncture and Moxibustion. This great treatise on Acupuncture
reinforced the principles of the Nei Jing and Nan Jing. This work
was the foundation of the teachings of G.Soulie de Morant who
introduced Acupuncture into Europe.
From the Qing Dynasty to the Opium Wars (1644-1840), herbal
medicine became the main tool of physicians and Acupuncture was
Following the Revolution of 1911, Western Medicine was introduced
and Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology were suppressed. Due to
the large population and need for medical care, Acupuncture and herbs
remained popular among the folk people, and the "barefoot doctor" emerged.
Acupuncture was used exclusively during the Long March (1934-35)
and despite harsh conditions it helped maintain the health of the army.
This led Mao ZeTong,the leader of the Communist Party, to see that
Acupuncture remained an important element in China's medical system.
In 1950 Chairman Mao officially united Traditional Chinese Medicine with
Western Medicine, and acupuncture became established in many hospitals.
In the same year Comrade Zhu De reinforced Traditional Chinese
Medicine with his book New Acupuncture.
In the late 1950's to the 1960's Acupuncture research continued
with - further study of the ancient texts, clinical effect on various diseases,
acupuncture anesthesia, and acupuncture's effect on the internal organs.
From the 1970's to the present, Acupuncture continues to play an
important role in China's medical system.
connection to a philosophy established thousands of years ago.
In Malaysia:Among the Malays, Prof Dr Nik Omar is one of the pioneer of
Acupuncture in Malay Society. He set up an Academy of Acupuncture at Pasir Mas
and spreading acupuncture knowledge all over the world for the last 20 years
through his college - FAHOM refer