What is Acupuncture?

Traditional Acupuncture has been a mainstream of medicine in the Far East for many thousands of years and is now also practised widely in the West. It has been used successfully by a large section of the worlds population.

Although its origins are ancient, it is subject to continuous review and is as beneficial today as it was to the early oriental cultures.

Recently acupuncture has increased in public awareness but the full extent of its benefits are still not widely known. It is used to treat a wide range of illnesses such as anxiety, arthritis, back pain, circulatory problems depression, eczema, high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, menstrual problems, migraines, rheumatism and many other disorders.

Traditional Acupuncture assists in the natural healing process and enables the person to heal by treating the whole person rather than treating symptomatically.

The Chinese and other eastern peoples have been using acupuncture to restore, promote and maintain good health for about 2,500 years. Stone needles were originally used, and later bronze, gold and silver needles. The first medical account of acupuncture was 'The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine' which dates from about 300 BC. Acupuncture is rooted in the Daoist philosophy of change, growth, balance and harmony, and this text outlines the principles of natural law and the movements of life - yin and yang, the Five Elements, the organ system and the meridian network along which acupuncture points are located. Amazingly, these records also contain details of pathology and physiology which provide the theoretical foundation for acupuncture today, some 2000 years later.

Acupuncture practice was gradually developed and refined. During the Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644), the famous Chinese herbalists Li Shi Zen published his 50-volume 'Compendium of Materia Medica', as well as a study of the Pulse and theExtraordinary Meridians. But from the mid-seventeenth century there was a decline in acupuncture and herbalism which coincided with the increasing influence of Western ideas of China.

Although acupuncture was always practised in rural communities, it was not until after the Liberation and the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949, that there was a great resurgence of interest in it at a national level. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), with the persecution of surgeons and doctors practising Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine was given new opportunities to develop. Today acupuncture is used far more extensively in China than in the West, in a hospital-based system with facilities for treating acute as well as chronic cases. The national policy is to pursue both systems side by side, with extensive clinical research.

In Britain, serious study of traditional acupuncture did not develop until the 1950s and early 1960s. The links were made either through Europe or through direct contact with teachers and schools in Taiwan, Korea and elsewhere. The serious students of acupuncture came from the ranks of those who were already interested in, or actually practised, natural medicines - osteopaths, homeopaths and naturopaths. To many it seemed that traditional Chinese medicine had formalised and set down many of the concepts they had found through their own experience.