17 October 2007

History of acupuncture

In the China of 2000 years ago, doctors had no machines to do tests or knowledge of the workings of the body as we understand it in the West today.


The Chinese were very observant people. In the China of 2000 years ago, doctors had no machines to do tests or knowledge of the workings of the body as we understand it in the West today.

They relied on observation, palpation (feeling, touching), smelling and listening to see how the human form worked. These techniques were not peculiar to China - virtually every tradition in the world used these methods to diagnose illness.

However, one has to credit the Chinese with coming up with a system that was so detailed and thorough that both simple diseases such as the common cold and very complex diseases such as diabetes could be diagnosed. Indeed, the system they devised was so refined that problems could be detected even before they had really taken hold as illnesses.

Tools to treat disease
Diagnosis is important but, of course, one needs tools to treat the disease. Here, again, the Chinese showed themselves to have extraordinary skills.

The two areas where they showed their genius were in herbal medicine and the development of acupuncture.

Once again, herbal medicine is not peculiar to China and many cultures use herbs to treat illness. We still use them today in the West in much the same way we did thousands of years ago. Also, many of the drugs used in orthodox medicine have been derived from herbs.

However, the Chinese materia medica is perhaps the most detailed herbal guide available to us to this day, showing how advanced they were in their thinking.

It was in the development of acupuncture that the Chinese differed from the rest of the world. Having observed the body, the Chinese doctors were able to describe a flow of energy through the organs of the body.

This flow is complex and well detailed, reaching all areas from the tips of the toes through every internal structure to the top of the head.

What's more, they noted that this energy flow came to the surface of the body and ran over (or rather just under) the skin. It was not a random flow, but very precise and they mapped out what are called meridians or lines of energy. On these lines of energy are "points" which can be used to increase or regulate the flow of energy in the entire body.

[This article was written by Dr Debbie Smith (M:Tech:Hom). Dr Smith is a qualified acupuncturist and homeopath, specialising in iris diagnosis using high-definition photography. For more information on acupuncture, contact her on (011) 463 8564 or e-mail her:]


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