How Previous is Acupuncture? Challenging the Neolithic Origins Principle

Even though westerners usually believe of this traditional Chinese remedy modality as a “new” form of option medicine, acupuncture is so ancient in China that its origins are unclear. In accordance to Huangfu Mi (c. 215-282 Ad), creator of The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, needling remedy was first employed in the course of China’s Bronze Age, over five thousand years ago. He attributes its creation to both Fu Xi or Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), two legendary figures of the 5 Emperors Period (c. 3000-2070 BC). Present day students usually feel that acupuncture is much more mature, originating more than 10 thousand years ago for the duration of China’s Neolithic Age (c. 8000-3500 BC).

In actuality, acupuncture may not be as historic as has normally been assumed. A reconsideration of all extant paperwork and modern archaeological finds indicates that acupuncture could day back again a mere 2100 to 2300 years, very first appearing throughout China’s Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and speedily maturing during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 Advert).

Questioning the generally acknowledged origins principle.

The at present recognized idea concerning the Neolithic origins of acupuncture is based mostly on two premises. The very first retains that bian shi, specialized sharp-edged stone equipment that appeared throughout China’s Neolithic Age, ended up utilized for an early sort of needling treatment, prior to the invention of steel smelting. It is recognized that bian shi stone resources were utilized for a amount of early health-related methods, commencing for the duration of the Neolithic Age and continuing by way of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 Advert). A variety of descriptions of bian shi stone remedy look in a single of China’s earliest healthcare functions, The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Basic of Medication (Huang Di Neijing, hereafter referred to as the Neijing) (c. 104-32 BC). It has been imagined that these Neolithic stone medical devices ended up precursors of the steel acupuncture needles that came into use for the duration of China’s Iron Age.

However, historic paperwork and new archaeological evidence plainly indicate that bian shi stone tools were flat and knife-like in kind, used largely to incise abscesses to discharge pus, or to attract blood (1). They ended up applied as surgical scalpels to cut, instead than as needles to puncture, and experienced practically nothing to do with needling treatment. In accordance to the Code of Hammurabi, the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia employed equally shaped bronze knives to incise abscesses over 4000 many years back.

Prehistoric Chinese folks possessed needles created of a variety of resources, ranging from crude thorns and quills to bone, bamboo, pottery, and stone. But just as the historical past of the knife is not the background of surgery, so the invention of needles and that of acupuncture are two totally distinct items. Needles have traditionally been between the most typically utilized equipment of everyday existence for constructing clothes all above the globe. Medically, needles are used to suture incisions just as generating up clothes with darners, hollow syringe needles (as differentiated from a sound needle utilized in acupuncture) are used to inject fluids into the body or attract them from it, but pricking a sound needle into the entire body to treat ailment would seem quite peculiar and enigmatical. In English, “to give any individual the needle” indicates to displease or irritate a person. Most men and women choose not to be punctured with needles, and affiliate needling with pain and damage. Numerous plants and animals have progressed thorns or quills as powerful weapons for protection or attack. Needles ended up even utilised for punishment in historical China. By demo and error, healers during the world have found treatment options for discomfort and other ailments independently, for cases, herbs, roots, wraps, rubs, blood-permitting and medical procedures, but acupuncture by itself is exclusive to Chinese. Taking into consideration the unique Chinese origin of acupuncture, it is sensible to assume that the creation of acupuncture was not associated to the availability of either sewing needles or bian shi stone scalpels in the course of China’s Neolithic Age.

The next premise supporting the theory of the Neolithic origins of acupuncture holds that acupuncture advanced as a normal outgrowth of every day life in prehistoric moments. It is thought that through a approach of fortuitous accident and recurring empirical experience, it was uncovered that needling different points on the physique could efficiently take care of numerous circumstances. Nonetheless, this assumption is lacking in both standard historic evidence and a rational basis.

It is identified that historical folks ended up mindful of conditions in which physical issues ended up relieved adhering to unrelated injury. This sort of a scenario was reported by Zhang Zihe (c. 1156-1228 Ad), a single of the 4 eminent physicians of the Jin and Yuan Dynasties (1115-1368 Advertisement) and a expert in blood-letting treatment: “Bachelor Zhao Zhongwen developed an acute eye dilemma during his participation in the imperial assessment. His eyes turned red and swollen, accompanied by blurred vision and severe discomfort. acupuncture in frisco was so unbearable that he contemplated dying. A single day, Zhao was in teahouse with a buddy. Abruptly, a stovepipe fell and hit him on the forehead, leading to a wound about 3-four cun in duration and permitting copious quantities of dark purple blood. When the bleeding stopped, a miracle experienced occurred. Zhao’s eyes stopped hurting he could see the street and was capable to go property by himself. The following working day he could make out the ridge of his roof. Inside of numerous days, he was fully recovered. This circumstance was cured with no intentional treatment but only accidental trauma (two).”

If acupuncture did, in reality, gradually build as the consequence of these kinds of fortuitous incidents, China’s four thousand a long time of recorded background should contain several comparable accounts relating to the discovery of the acupoints and their homes. But my in depth research of the enormous Chinese medical canon and other literature has yielded only this one case. Truly, this tale offers at most an case in point of blood-allowing treatment, which differs in some essential regards from acupuncture. The level of blood-allowing remedy is to get rid of a specific quantity of blood. But when puncturing the human body with solid needles, practically nothing is additional to or subtracted from the body.

Blood-permitting treatment is universal. Through recorded background, men and women around the planet have had related activities with the beneficial final results of accidental injuries, and have developed healing methods based on the principle that injuring and inducing bleeding in 1 component of the physique can alleviate troubles in one more area. The ancient Greeks and Romans designed venesection and cupping dependent on the discovery that bleeding is beneficial in instances this kind of as fever, headache, and disordered menstruation. Europeans throughout the Center Ages used blood-letting as a panacea for the avoidance and treatment method of condition. In depth directions ended up given concerning the most favorable times and several hours for blood-letting, the correct veins to be tapped, the amount of blood to be taken, and the variety of bleedings. Blood was normally taken by opening a vein with a lancet, but occasionally by blood-sucking leeches or with the use of cupping vessels. Blood-allowing making use of leeches is even now practiced in some regions of Europe and the Center East. Even so, nowhere did these blood-permitting strategies build into a comprehensive and complete method comparable to that of acupuncture. If acupuncture did certainly come up from repeated empirical expertise of accidental harm, it ought to have produced all in excess of the world, instead than just in China.