What is Acupuncture & How did it all Start?acupuncture image in Classical China

What is Acupuncture? Basically, it involves the insertion of fine filiform needles that are roughly about as thick as a human hair into specific acupuncture points on the body. The needles used are both sterile and single use, meaning that once a needle has been used on a patient it is disposed of immediately. These thin needles are used to stimulate acupuncture points which are found on the meridians, & the meridian concept plays a vital role in understanding the integration of both the bodies structure and function. In Classical Acupuncture philosophy, it is said that when there is a lack of movement or stagnation in the meridian system, disease and pathology arise. Creating this ‘movement’ in the meridians via needling the various acupuncture points on the body results in a deep regulation of the various bodily systems, ameliorating the patients symptoms & ultimately improving the patients overall health and state of being.

Acupuncture as a form of healing dates back to more than 2500 years with its golden period of development occurring in the Han dynasty (206bc – 220ad). It was in this golden period that the pivotal Chinese medical texts were written (Su wen, Ling Shu, Nan Jing). These texts form the foundation of Chinese Medical thought and acupuncture philosophy still to this day, and the many differing styles of practice all draw their roots from these classical texts.

Over the 2500 years acupuncture has made its way from Main Land China to Japan then Korea and to the rest of the world always adapting to its environment and social conditions. From these adaptations the many interpretations have distilled into the many different schools of thought and styles of practice available today.

These styles or schools include but are not limited to: Saam acupuncture which was developed in Korea some 400 years ago. Kiiko Matsumoto Style which is essentially a complete hybrid system with influences and roots from the work of Manaka, Nagano, and Kawai. The Worsley five element style based on J.R Worsley’s interpretation and adaptation of five element philosophy which he brought back with him to the west in the mid 1950’s. To the mainstream style named Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that really only took shape in the last sixty years and was essentially brought to the forefront by Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward Campaign (1958 – 1961).

Other mainstream styles include The Toyohari System which was originally only taught to blind Japanese practitioners with the Toyo Hari Medical Association founded by Kodo Fukushima in 1959, and other styles flying under the meridian therapy banner which were developed around the 1940’s in reaction to the ‘watering down’ trend in acupuncture taking place in Japan, with their main focus being to bring the direction of acupuncture practice to return to its ‘classical Nan-Ching’ roots.

It is important to note that all these styles of acupuncture are equally valid as a form of therapy in the hands of a competent practitioner, however these styles do vary in their levels of interpretation, implementation and adherence to the classical texts mentioned above. As well as varying in both the treatment techniques that they employ, and the size/ gauge of the needles that they use.

What this all really means to a patient wanting acupuncture treatment is that your practitioner may prefer and use one style or another and as a result use thicker/ or thinner needles, use non-penetrative needles, press & push on the body more, or not press on the body at all, take your pulse or look at your tongue, ask all sorts of weird and wonderful questions or none at all.

My recommendation for those receiving treatment is to find an acupuncturist that fits you, as ultimately we are here to help you on your path to wellness.