Whether you are considering attending an acupuncture appointment for the first time, or have been visiting a specialist for years, you may be curious as to where exactly this holistic health technique originated, and if it was practiced in the early days the same way that it is today.
From an ancient form of healing that was used in order to restore energy to the body, to its use by medical practitioners today to ease back pain, neck pain, tension headaches, and other conditions, the use of acupuncture has a rich history of healing both the body and mind.
What is Acupuncture?
The method of acupuncture works by encouraging the body to heal faster and improve its overall functioning. Through the (painless) insertion of needles using precise placement, at times in conjunction with heat or electrical stimulants, acupuncture aims to:
- Promote overall health and well-being
- Prevent future illnesses
- Treat various medical conditions
- Alleviate preexisting pain
Acupuncture helps to heal a wide range of conditions and disorders. Useful in resolving both physical issues as well as stress and emotional problems, its practice appeals to a large audience. From its foundation as a Chinese medical art, to its use by licensed professionals today, the method is both old in origin and new in Western understanding and practice.
History and Origin of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medical art, which developed in ancient China and has been involved in Chinese civilization for over 2,000 years. The Chinese believe that an energy they call qi (pronounced “chi”) runs through their body and connects their internal organs. Qi can be explained as everything that circulates in the body, from energy and nerve impulse, to blood, lymph and other bodily systems. The healthy flow of qi throughout the body plays a significant role in the person’s health (or lack thereof).
The Chinese believe that this qi energy can be manipulated in order to create a healthier body, and this is where acupuncture was developed. By locating and applying pressure to specific acupuncture points, a person’s qi can be altered for the better, thus making them emotionally and physically better off.
Acupuncture’s Arrival to America
Although there is no exact date as to when acupuncture was first practiced in the United States, Chinese doctors began immigrating to America as early as the 1800s. However, it was not legalized and accepted as a form of pain treatment until the 1970s. In 1972, the first legal acupuncture center in the US was established. In 1973, the IRS allowed acupuncture to be deducted as a medical expense.
It was also in 1972 that President Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger, traveled to China, bringing New York Times journalist, James Reston, with him. During their trip, Reston became extremely ill and ended up in a hospital in China where an appendectomy was performed on him. To alleviate his pain afterwards, the doctors used acupuncture.
Amazed by the pain relief he experienced as a result of acupuncture treatments, James Reston wrote an entire piece on the hospitalization and the unbelievable acupuncture he received, and it was published in the New York Times. For many Americans, this was the first time ever hearing about acupuncture and its incredible results.
Today, licensed acupuncturists focus more on trigger points that are used to stop pain and heal the body rather than regulating the body’s “qi” like the ancient Chinese once did. Acupuncture is a multi-billion dollar industry, with roughly 40 million adults receiving treatment annually. If you are suffering with digestive, respiratory, neurological, or muscular conditions, or pain, acupuncture could be a beneficial treatment for you.
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