What is Acupuncture?
When most people hear about acupuncture, all they really know is that someone sticks little
needles in you. A lot of people think it’s hocus pocus or nonsense but they have not really taken
the time to understand the rich history of acupuncture and the science on which it is based.
History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been a central part of ancient Chinese medicine for thousands and thousands of
years. There is evidence of the existence of acupuncture dating as far back as 1600 BCE.
Because it is so ancient, its precise origins are difficult to trace. Chinese legend attributes it to the
It is likely that acupuncture next spread to Korea around
1000 AD. The first Europeans were exposed to acupuncture
in the 1600s but it was viewed as barbaric and didn’t attain
any mainstream popularity until centuries later. The first
mentions of acupuncture in the United States can be found
in 1826 in The North American Medical and Surgical
In more modern times, acupuncture actually briefly fell out
of favor in China even as it gained popularity elsewhere in
the world. In an attempt to distance its people from long-
seated cultural traditions, the Communist Chinese
government disavowed the practice of acupuncture, calling
it backward and outdated.
It was following American efforts to instigate trade and
association with China in the 1970s that the practice began
to gain the popularity that it enjoys today. While
acupuncture is still viewed with skepticism by many, its
proponents and practitioners can be found throughout the
country and around the globe.
Scientific Examinations of Acupuncture
Modern science has often found it difficult to accurately measure the effects of acupuncture on
patients. Separating clear benefits from the powerful placebo effect has proven hard to
overcome. Simply believing that acupuncture will have a positive effect can be enough to illicit
that effect in many cases.
The idea behind acupuncture is that the body’s organs and systems are governed by a natural
energy called Qi, pronounced “chi”. Practitioners of acupuncture claim that many of the body’s
ailments are the result of an imbalance in the body’s natural energy. By pinpointing these
imbalances in places called extraordinary points and applying needle-specific pressure, it is
believed that these energies can be cleared and realigned and the body’s natural rhythms and
healing powers restored.
Acupuncture has been shown to work in instances of chronic pain
associated with arthritis or other musculo-skeletal conditions related
to incidents of trauma. It is also used to relieve temporary aches and
pains associated with poor posture or sleeping positions.
Acupunctures most ardent supporters take the purported benefits even
further suggesting that acupuncture can be part of a holistic approach
for curing more serious ailments like cancer. Others claim that it can
aid in combatting infertility in both men and women.
Whether you choose to try acupuncture to alleviate simply back pain
or migraine headaches, or to treat more serious illness, be sure to
consult with a doctor. While modern medicine can’t prove that
acupuncture does or does not work, you should judge for yourself whether or not it should be a
part of your health regimen. It could help you relieve pain and get back pain treatment from
Berkeley Heights to Falls Church.
Photo Credit: Runran, Mikka Skaffari