The earliest written records of acupuncture that have been discovered date back to approximately 100 BCE, during the period of the Han Dynasty in China. Acupuncture was originally used to treat a variety of ailments such as headaches, digestive issues, and pain and it is still used for the same purposes today. According to local legend, the discovery of acupuncture was made by a Chinese soldier who noticed that his wounds healed faster when they were pierced by arrows.
The earliest forms of acupuncture in China involved its practitioners using sharp stones, shells, and bones to stimulate the energy points of the body’s life force pathways. Eventually, specialized metal needles were developed and the practice evolved and became more complex and refined. The practice of acupuncture was originally based on the even older theory of Qi, a life force energy that flows through the body through specific pathways, called meridians by an acupuncturist. The goal of acupuncture was then and still is, to balance the flow of Qi to restore equilibrium and thus the health and harmony of the various systems of the body.
As Chinese trade routes expanded throughout Asia, the traders brought the practice of acupuncture along with them. Within just a few centuries, acupuncture had spread to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, where it was modified and adapted to fit in with the local culture and their particular beliefs. In Japan, acupuncture was combined with herbal medicine to create a form of treatment known as Kampo, which is also still practiced by natural health doctors today.
Acupuncture first started to get attention in the West in the 17th century when Dutch traders brought the practice to Europe, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that acupuncture began to be truly accepted in the West.
In the 1970s, acupuncture started to gain popularity in the U.S. when President Nixon made his famous visit to China. During the trip, Nixon watched a patient undergoing acupuncture treatment and was impressed by its seeming effectiveness. This first endorsement eventually led to the opening of acupuncture clinics in the United States and the founding of the National Acupuncture Association in 1972.
Since then, acupuncture has become a widely accepted form of alternative medicine in America and today there are thousands of licensed acupuncturists in the United States who use acupuncture to treat a wide range of ailments. Acupuncture is often used in conjunction with chiropractic and other forms of traditional medicine, such as herbal remedies and massage therapy, to treat a variety of conditions as we do at our clinic in Hayward, California. As our patients will attest, acupuncture works as well today as it did in ancient China.