History of Acupuncture in the West
1600 A.D. – 1800 A.D. -------- Acupuncture was being used
but no recorded evidence is present.
A.D. ---------Dr. Berlioz at the Paris medical School treated
a young woman suffering from abdominal pain. Later on also,
he continued to use acupuncture, and claimed a great deal
of success with it.
A.D. ------- Dr.John Churchill in England published a series
of results on the treatment of tympany and rheumatism with
A.D. -------- Lancet published about Acupuncture in its
A.D. --------- Dr. John Elliotson began to use this mod
of treatment. In 1827 he published a series of results on
the treatment of forty-two cases of rheumatism by acupuncture,
and came to the conclusion that this was an acceptable and
effective method of treatment for these complaints.
who traveled to China brought back information about body
acupuncture. Ear acupuncture has been developed largely
outside China. It is quite clear that there are some ancient
Chinese manuscripts that mention the use of the external
ear for acupuncture, but classical Chinese acupuncture applies
to the body rather than the ear.
acupuncture was known to the ancient Egyptians. Ear cauteries
have been found in the pyramids; these were used for burning
or scarring specific ear points for conditions like sciatica.
Hippocrates also mentions that the external ear could be
used to treat conditions such as impotence.
A.D. ----- Zactus Lusitanus, a Portuguese doctor described
the use of auricular cautery for sciatica
A.D. ------ Valsalva demonstrated the use of ear acupuncture
A.D. ------ Dr. Paul Nogier in France developed detailed
refined and developed this technique. One of his earliest
findings was that if there was pain in the body then the
equivalent part of the ear also became painful.
hand is painful then the part of the ear representing the
hand also becomes painful when slight pressure is applied
to the relevant part of the ear. If the painful ear point
is punctured with a needle then the hand pain will be relieved.
The picture of a pirate with a gold ear ring through his
ear lobe is a well remembered childhood image; according
to folklore the gold ring is supposed to increase the visual
ability of the pirate, so that he can see ships to plunder
before he is seen by them! Strangely enough, the ear ring
usually seems to be placed in the eye point on the ear lobe.
the last fifty years many Western physicians have discovered
independently that pressing, stimulating or injecting various
superficial body points can help to relieve pain. This is
particularly true of muscular or rheumatic-like pains. These
points are not necessarily at the site of pain, but often
over distant areas. For instance, neck pain is frequently
referred to the shoulder or arm and can present to the doctor
as shoulder or arm pain. On close examination of the patient
it is quite easy to define the origin of the pain, and to
show that the neck is the cause of the problem. Injection,
or stimulation of the painful points around the shoulder
or arm, will often relieve the pain and free the movement
of the neck.
points have a variety of names, such as trigger points (for
pain), or motor points. In 1977 Dr. Melzack, who has been
awarded the Nobel prize for his work in the field of pain,
correlated these trigger points with acupuncture points,
and found that most of the trigger points were already well
known as acupuncture points. There are a number of explanations
for the existence of trigger points but, as yet, there is
no clear answer to this phenomenon.
interesting to note that the Chinese realized this fact
at least some three thousand years ago, and the Ling Shu
summarises this approach when it says 'In pain, puncture
the tender point'.
in USSR (Now Russia) ------------Since its intimate
contact with the Chinese in the 1950's, the USSR has also
been using and researching into acupuncture, although the
relationship between Russia and China could not be described
as good. In 1972 a Russian researcher published work suggesting
that acupuncture points were points of low electrical resistance
on the body. He also found a network of low resistance points
in both animals and plants. The use of acupuncture in the
USSR steadily increased during the 1970's and in 1972 acupuncture
clinics were planned for all the major medical centers in
the Soviet Union. The Russians claim they are using acupuncture
for a wide variety of conditions such as asthma, stomach
ulcers, raised blood pressure and angina, as well as for
pain. In the West, acupuncture has been used mainly for
pain relief. This is primarily because acupuncture for pain
is easy to learn, and does not require a knowledge of traditional
Chinese concepts in order to obtain results. The concepts
of traditional Chinese medicine can seem alien and unacceptable
to Western doctors and they are therefore rejected in favor
of a simpler and probably less efficient method of treatment,
in spite of the value of many of the traditional concepts.
Some doctors practicing acupuncture in the West are simply
puncturing tender points as this seems a rational and logical
in U.S.A. -------------Acupuncture has become very popular
in North America since President Nixon in early 1970s reopened
relationships with the Chinese. There are many research
clinics evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture, and
also investigating the basic physiological mechanisms involved.
The research output from North America is prolific and some
excellent work has been done much of which re-emphasizes
that acupuncture is an effective form of therapy for many
conditions, especially pain, although it is not a guaranteed
cure. Over the last twenty years the West has developed
a great deal of technological hardware which is now being
applied in the field of acupuncture. The chapter on modern
acupuncture techniques describes briefly the use of a variety
of electrical machines and sources of stimulation, such
as lasers and electroacupuncture. Many of these techniques
are still in their infancy and some will be rejected whilst
others may prove to be important.
is a poor nation without enough resources and trained manpower
to research and develop acupuncture adequately. Until fairly
recently few useful statistics were available from the acupuncture
clinics in China, and most of the research into the basic
mechanism of acupuncture had come from Western research
institutes. Within this context it is probable that many
of the major advances in acupuncture will come from the
West rather than from the East.