History of Acupuncture


Acupuncture History

The origins of acupuncture date back to the time when history was not even recorded. The beliefs and main themes of acupuncture can be traced back to the Taoist customs that were practiced around 8000 years ago. The Chinese natives of that time practiced meditation and observed the course of energy inside and outside the body. (Suvow, n.d.)

The Chinese prehistoric era can be split into 2 periods: Old Stone Age that dates to 10,000 years and New Stone Age that dates to 4000-10,000 years. In the Old Stone Age, people created knives from stone. These knives were also used for medical purposes. It was in the New Stone Age that these stones were used to make delicate needles. These needles were later used as apparatus for curative purposes. Bian Stone was the name that was given to these needles. The word Bian Stone means employment of pointed stones for the treatment of ailments. Numerous such needles were discovered by archaeologists later in China. It is believed that these needles belong to the New Stone Age. (Suvow, n.d.)

Nei Jing was the first book on Chinese Medicine, which was composed sometime around 305-204 B.C. This book comprises of two sections. The first section, “Su Wen” (Plain Questions), is an introduction to medicine. The second section “Ling Shu” (Miraculous Pivot,Spiritual Axis) focuses on acupuncture. It includes the nine kinds of needles, details about points of acupuncture, methods of using needles, etc. Hieroglyphs of the era of Shang Dynasty depicted proof of Acupuncture. “Bronze needles were excavated from ruins, but the bian stones remained the main form of needle.” (Suvow, n.d.)

It is also believed that Acupuncture first arose as a system of therapy in the Chou Dynasty of Chinese history which witnessed the use of small needles of precise point on the human body from the philosophical concepts of human beings and its kinship to the natural environment. The Warring States era, which ran from 480 BC to 221 BC, was especially significant for the integration of two main theoretical beliefs into the typical Chinese culture. These two beliefs were Daoism and Confucianism. “Acupuncture, as a means of treating internal disease with external techniques, evolved as a necessary and important adjunct to the beliefs of Confucianism.” (History of Acupuncture, 2004)

It is usually believed that acupuncture was first practiced in China and has numerous literature that dates back to approximately 200 BCE. (White, Ernst, 1999) Moreover, acupuncture has been used in numerous nations for hundreds of years. Specifically speaking, it has been practiced for more than 1450 years by the Japanese, 1500 years by the Koreans, and 2000 years by the Vietnamese. Afterwards, it came into the European countries some 300 years back, and in North American localities around 150 years back. In the preceding 30 years, the practice of acupuncture has become common in most of the nations all over the globe. (White, Ernst, 1999)

“The earliest major documents, the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Huang Di Nei Jing Ling Shu (circa 200 BC) and the Nan Jing (circa 100 AD), are revered as the primary sources of acupuncture.” (White, Ernst, 1999) Many writers have analyzed these literatures for hundreds of years. Even today, the authenticity of countless concepts in contemporary practice is determined by using suitable portions from these historical literatures. (White, Ernst, 1999)


History of Acupuncture (2004, May 26)
Retrieved, July 13, 2007

Suvow, Scott (n.d.) History of Acupuncture in China
Retrieved, July 13, 2007

White, Adrian, Ernst, Edzard (1999) Acupuncture: A Scientific Appraisal. pg. 11-12.
Elsevier Health Sciences