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Acupuncture History

A History of Acupuncture

The earliest written record of acupuncture is the Chinese text Shiji (史記, English: Records of the GrandHistorian) with elaboration of its history in the 2nd century BCEmedical text Huangdi Neijing (黃帝內經, English: Yellow Emperor's InnerCanon).[2]

Acupuncture's origins in China are uncertain. One explanationis that some soldiers wounded in battle by arrows were believed to havebeen cured of chronic afflictions that were otherwise untreated,[24]and there are variations on this idea.[25] Sharpened stones known asBian shi have been found in China, suggesting the practice may date tothe Neolithic[26] or possibly even earlier in the Stone Age.[27]Hieroglyphs and pictographs have been found dating from the ShangDynasty (1600–1100 BCE) which suggest that acupuncture was practicedalong with moxibustion.[28]

Despite improvements in metallurgy over centuries, it was notuntil the 2nd century BCE during the Han Dynasty that stone and boneneedles were replaced with metal.[26] The earliest records ofacupuncture is in the Shiji (史記, in English, Records of the GrandHistorian) with references in later medical texts that are equivocal,but could be interpreted as discussing acupuncture. The earliestChinese medical text to describe acupuncture is the Huangdi Neijing,the legendary Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine (History ofAcupuncture) which was compiled around 305–204 BCE.[2]

The Huangdi Neijing does not distinguish between acupunctureand moxibustion and gives the sameindication for both treatments. The Mawangdui texts, which also datefrom the 2nd century BCE (though antedating both the Shiji and HuangdiNeijing), mention the use of pointed stones to open abscesses, andmoxibustion but not acupuncture. However, by the 2nd century BCE,acupuncture replaced moxibustion as the primary treatment of systemicconditions.[2]

In Europe, examinations of the 5,000-year-old mummified bodyof Ötzi the Iceman have identified 15 groups of tattoos on his body,some of which are located on what are now seen as contemporaryacupuncture points. This has been cited as evidence that practicessimilar to acupuncture may have been practiced elsewhere in Eurasiaduring the early Bronze Age.[29]

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