Category Archives: History

Acupuncture – A brief History

The exact origin of Acupunctures is difficult to date as references of varying evidential value can be cited.

For example, there was much excitement amongst the world of acupuncture following the  1991 discovery of  “Otzi the iceman” in the Italian Alps.  This near perfectly preserved and mummified neolithic man had tattoo’s on his body that correspond to known acupuncture channels.   Carbon dating showed that he had lived 5,000 years ago.

Even before this however some believe that stone needles or “Bian Shi”, recovered during archaeological digs in inner Mongolia, could place the practise at a much earlier point in history.


What is clearer is the written record which started approximately  2,000 years ago in the 3 Sovereigns period with the Huang Di Nei Jing, or Yellow Emperors Internal Cannon, a book on which the traditional practise of Chinese Medicine is founded and which remains a significant source of knowledge and inspiration to this day.  Indeed a copy can be found in the personal library of many practitioners, including my own.

Since this book many other texts and schools of thought have been committed to paper to establish an unbroken literary record.  Whilst remaining unbroken, it has however suffered over the years.  The “Fen Shu Keng Ru” a dark period in Chinese History during the Qin dynasty when the emperor ordered the burning of books and scholars, did not succeed in wiping the history but it never the less delivered a serious blow.  The extent of damage and amount of information lost during this time can only be imagined but could be assumed to be significant.

Acupuncture first started its journey out of China via the silk roads and is believed to have been brought back to Europe by French Jesuit missionaries.  Whilst practised for many years, popularity in the west saw substantial growth in 1971 following the appendectomy of New York Times reporter James Reston who became ill whilst covering President Nixon’s impending visit to China.  The surgery took place in a Chinese hospital where he received acupuncture during post operative recuperation, an integrated approach still practised in Chinese hospitals and much envied by western practitioners.  He was so impressed with the treatment he wrote an article on it for the newspaper awakening the western audience to this little known form of healing.

Acupuncture has continued to grow in popularity and is now practised in a variety of styles and setting across the world. In a modern world of stress and resistance to drugs, many are seeing the benefits of holistic, natural healing as practised for nearly 2,000 years.

I hope you enjoyed reading my post.  In the coming weeks I will be blogging about some of the historical influences that contributed to the development Traditional Chinese Medicine and its many philosophies.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

ChineseMedecineYou will often see me use the terminology “Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)” to define my practice, either in conjunction with or instead of acupuncture, and it is important that I explain what I mean when I use this terminology.

TCM practice draws from, philosophies and collective medical wisdow that has a continuous clinical history dating back over 2,000 years.  It incorporates several medical practices that influence our balance and well being.  These include acupuncture, herbs, massage (Tuina), exercise (Qi Gong or Tai Chi) and dietary therapy, all seen as essential components not only in terms of remedial medicine, but to promote and maintain health.  When I refer to TCM, I am describing the discipline on which I draw my information.

It is also important to note that there are several different types of acupuncture including medical, Japanese, Five element etc. When I use the terminology TCM acupuncture, I am describing the style I practise which has its foundation in one of the oldest methods of healing in the world.