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History of Acupuncture

Debopriya Bose
Acupuncture is a therapy that ensures good health based on the concepts of 'vital energy' and maintaining the 'energy balance'. It is useful in curing ailments like depression, physical pain, and also, aids weight loss.
Warriors, who fought with stones and arrows, realized that when they got hit or hurt on particular parts of the body, they got cured of certain diseases. Certain tribes of South Africa scratched their body parts, whereas Brazilian cannibals were known to shoot darts on the affected parts to cure ailments.
So, it is a fact that applying pressure on specific parts of the body to cure diseases has been old knowledge for humans. The Chinese refined this knowledge to invent acupuncture and acupressure that have now become popular forms of holistic healing.


Though there is no conclusive evidence as to when and how acupuncture originated, it is believed that about 5000 years ago, the Chinese realized that rubbing stones against particular parts of the body alleviated pain. The Treatise of Internal Medicine, which is the oldest and most reliable book on this therapy, was written by the Father of Acupuncture Huang Di Nei Jing, of China.

What is Acupuncture?

It is a form of alternative medicine that works on the belief that proper functioning of the human body is controlled by two opposite types of energy - the Yin and the Yang.
These energies are believed to run through certain pathways called 'meridians' or points. As long as the energies are in harmony, the body is healthy. This therapy aims at maintaining proper energy balance by stimulating these points.
Though, traditionally, needles were used to stimulate these points, nowadays magnets, laser, and electricity is used to achieve the same effect. The needles are disposable and hypoallergenic and are maintained in highly sterile conditions. There are different-sized needles for different parts of the body.

What is Acupressure?

Acupressure is also a form of holistic healing, which belongs to the traditional Chinese medicine and is based on the same principle of maintaining the balance of energy or the Chi in the body. Unlike acupuncture, where needles are inserted into the skin, in acupressure, pressure is applied to the meridian points or acupressure points.

Which Ailments Can be Treated by Acupuncture?

~ Pain and headaches
~ Allergies like hay fever and asthma
~ Depression
~ Paralysis after stroke
~ Urinary problems
~ Gynecological issues
~ Smoking problem
~ Obesity
Though the actual mechanism of how the therapy works, is still not clearly understood, various theories have been proposed to explain its effectiveness.
According to the Neurotransmitter Theory, it works by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters like Serotonin and Noradrenaline, whereas some put forth the Circulatory System Theory, according to which, the effects of the therapy are brought about by the release of vasodilators that facilitate blood flow.
The Endorphin Theory explains weight loss by acupuncture. As per this theory, the therapy results in the release of endorphins in our body and has a calming and relaxing effect.
Considering that, stress and frustration lead people to overeating, acupuncture is supposed to use the calming effect to control binging in individuals, thereby facilitating weight loss.
Due to lack of anatomical or histological evidences for the existence of acupuncture points, acupuncture and acupressure still haven't been accepted as a scientific form of healing ailments by the medical fraternity. However, due to their effectiveness in curing ailments, these forms of traditional Chinese medicine are becoming popular all over the world.