There is a lot of available information on what acupuncture is, but where did it come from and how did it get so popular in the United States?

A quick look at the history of acupuncture can give us some insight on the use of the treatment and its current popularity. “The History of Acupuncture” by John Fishman gives a great overview of the subject. Let’s explore some of the key highlights on the acupuncture timeline.

  • Earliest translated texts are written: Huang Fu Mi, a Chinese physician, translated the earliest texts that mention acupuncture between 260 and 265 C.E. The information was taken from ancient literature and transcribed. The result was 12 volumes describing a number of acupuncture points on the body and their corresponding energies.
  • Acupuncture becomes a branch of Chinese medicine: In 627 C.E., another physician named Sun Simio created a text called A Prescription with a Thousand Gold for Emergencies. At this time, schools were also formed to train acupuncturists to treat patients.
  • An illustrated manual was created: Another Chinese writer, Wang Weiyi, created an illustrated manual of acupuncture that included acupuncture points and how they interacted on the body.
  • The Opium Wars begin: The years 1839 to 1842 marked the first of two opium wars between China and the British Empire. Herbalism became the main medicinal treatment in the region and the practice of acupuncture was suppressed.
  • Introduction of Western medicine: In 1911, Western medical techniques are introduced in China. The ancient arts were suppressed with an order that all medical students were to meet conditions established by Western medicine.
  • Research begins on acupuncture: In the 1950s, researchers began to look into alternative medicines including acupuncture to determine how they may be helpful in addition to Western medical treatments.
  • Popularity spreads in the United States: In 1971, a U.S. Press Corps member traveling with Richard Nixon needed an emergency appendectomy in China during a visit. His recovery was quick and he credited the use of acupuncture. The practice started to gain in popularity in the United States after this incident.
  • National Football League jumps on the bandwagon: Today, even the NFL uses acupuncture to help their athletes maintain their health while playing the game.

How long have you been using acupuncture in conjunction with other therapies?

Image by Jim Bowen via Flickr


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