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The concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china

The Origin of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Acupuncture and moxibustion are an important invention of the Chinese nation which originated as early as in the clan commune period of the primitive society. The activities of human beings appeared in China about 1,700,000 years ago. The concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china the ancient literature there were many legends about the origin of acupuncture and moxibustion such as Fu Xi's creation of the therapeutic techniques with stone needles, and Huang Di's invention of acupuncture and moxibustion.

The above mentioned Fu Xi and Huang Di in legend actually are the representatives of the clan commune of primitive society. In the classics of two thousand years ago, it was frequently cited that the acupuncture instruments were made of stone and were named bian stone.

For example, in Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, there is a paragraph in historical records for 550 BC saying: Quan Yuanqi who lived around the 5th-6th centuries pointed out: In fact, they are the same thing.

Because there was no iron casting in ancient times, the needles were made of stone. Primitive period in China was divided into two stages, the Old Stone Age from remote antiquity to 10,000 years ago and the New Stone Age from 10,000-40,000 years ago. In the Old Stone Age the ancestors knew how to use stone knives and scrapers to incise an abscess, drain pus and let blood out for therapeutic purposes.

With the accumulation of experiences the indications of the treatment by bian stone were gradually increased. In the New Stone Age because of the improvement in their technique of stone manufacturing, the the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china people were able to make bian stone as a special tool with more medical usage. In China, a bian stone needle 4. At one end, it is oval shaped with a semicircular edge used for incising boils and abscesses, and at other end, it is pyramid shaped with a square base used for bloodletting.

The discovered relics of bian stone have provided powerful evidence that acupuncture originated early in the primitive society.

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According to the records of Chapter 12 of Plain Questions: Because it was cold and windy in the northern areas, people had to warm themselves by fire. Living in camps and subsisting on milk, they easily suffered from abdominal pain and distension by cold, suitable to be treated by heat. Through long-term accumulation of experiences, moxibustion therapy and hot compression were created. Three thousand years ago in the Shang Dynasty the hieroglyphs of acupuncture the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china moxibustion appeared in the inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells.

Because of the development of bronze casting techniques there appeared bronze medical needles. But bian stone was still as the main tool for treating diseases. During this period the philosophical thinking of Yin-yang and five elements was formed, and in the field of medicine the ancient physicians had a preliminary understanding of pulse, blood, body fluid, Qi, Shen manifestations of vitalityessence, five sounds, five colors, five flavors, six Qi, eight winds, etc.

Thus germinated the sprout of the basic the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china of traditional Chinese medicine. With the introduction and application of iron instruments, bian stone needles were replaced by metal medical needles.

This broadened the field of acupuncture practice, bringing about a development of acupuncture by leaps and bounds. As recorded in the book Miraculous Pivot, there were nine kinds of metallic needles at that time with different shapes and usage. They are named as nine needles, including the needles for puncturing, surgical incision and massage as well. Among the relics, there were four golden needles and five decaying silver ones. These discoveries demonstrate the original shapes of the ancient needles.

The doctors of this period treated diseases with multiple techniques. For example, the famous doctor Qin Yueren or named Bian Que who lived in about the fifth to fourth century BC, had a good command of medical knowledge in various clinical branches; he treated patients by needling, moxibustion, herbal decoction, massage and hot compression.

He rescued a critically ill prince by acupuncture, and this story went down in history. Another famous doctor Chunyu Yi of the second century BC was good at acupuncture-moxibustion and herbal treatment. There is an account of his case reports of twenty-five patients in the book Historical Records, in which four cases were treated by acupuncture and moxibustion. In the period of Warring States, ancient doctors began to generalize and summarize medicine and pharmacology, and writings on acupuncture and moxibustion appeared.

Two silk scrolls recording meridians and collaterals written in the third century BC, were discovered in excavation of the No. The book The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor passed on to now is a medical classic concerning the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, with its authorship ascribed to the ancient Emperor Huangdi the Yellow Emperor. It includes two parts: On the basis of previous literature, it takes the theories of Yin-yang, five elements, zang-fu, meridians and collaterals, mentality and spirit, Qi and blood, body fluid, five emotions and six exogeneous pathogenic the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china as the basic knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine, and acupuncture and moxibustion as the main therapeutic technique; it explained the physiology and pathology of the human body, the principles of diagnosis, the prevention and treatment of diseases from the perspective of atheism, holistic conception, the viewpoint of development and change, and the relationship between the human body and the natural environment.

This laid a theoretical foundation of Chinese medicine and pharmacology, including acupuncture and moxibustion. During this period also appeared the books The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Eighty-one Difficulties and Essentials of Points, Acupuncture and moxibustion, both related to the fundamental theories of acupuncture and moxibustion, but the latter book has been lost. From the Eastern Han Dynasty AD 25-220 to Three Kingdoms Period 220-265another generalization and summarization of traditional Chinese medicine and pharmacology was made.

Many famous doctors paid great attention to the study of acupuncture and moxibustion. For example, Hua Tuo who was the pioneer to apply herbal anesthesia for surgical operations only selected one or two points in acupuncture treatment and took much notice to the propagation of needling sensation. The outstanding medical doctor Zhang Zhongjing also mentioned the methods of acupuncture, moxibustion, fire needling, warm needling, etc.

He stressed very much on combining acupuncture with medicine herbs as well as applying the treatment according to the differentiation of symptom complex. During this period the basic theories of acupuncture and moxibustion had already been formed, but the locations and names of acupuncture points were neither unified nor systemized. A bamboo scroll of medicine of the Eastern Han Dynasty which was excavated from Wuwei County in Gansu Province, mistook Zusanli to be located "five cun below the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china knee.

Because the earliest acupuncture books contained mistakes and differences, and had missing information, the famous medical doctor Huangfu Mi compiled the book Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion in 256-260 by collecting the materials of acupuncture and moxibustion from the ancient books Plain Questions, Canon of Acupuncture and Essential of Points, Acupuncture and Moxibustion. The book consists of 12 volumes with 128 chapters, including 349 acupuncture points.

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He edited and arranged the contents according to the following order: It is the earliest exclusive and systemized book on acupuncture and moxibustion which has been one of the most influential works in the history of acupuncture and moxibustiom.

During the Jin Dynasty and the Northern and The concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china Dynasties 265-581the chaos was upheaved by wars. The physicians advocated acupuncture and moxibustion therapy very much because of its convenient use in times of turmoil, and the masses of Chinese people also knew something about moxibustion therapy.

The famous doctor Ge Hong wrote the book to Prescriptions for Emergencies to popularize medical knowledge, the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china the therapeutic methods of acupuncture and moxibustion.

From the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china Jin Dynasty to the Northern and Southern Dynasties, Xu Xi's family were expert in the art of healing for several generations, including Xu Qiufu, Xu Wenbo and Xu Shuxiang, all well known in the history of acupuncture and moxibustion. In this period there appeared more and more monographs on acupuncture and moxibustion, and charts of acupuncture points, such as Acupuncture Chart from Lateral and Posterior Views and Diagrams of Meridians and Points.

During the Sui 581-618 and Tang dynasties 618-907China was undergoing the process of economical and cultural prosperity of the feudal society. The science of acupuncture and moxibustion also had great development.

The famous physician Zhen Quan and his contemporary Sun Simiao both had good command of the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine and made deep study on acupuncture and moxibustion. The Tang government, in the years around 627-649, ordered Zhen Quan and the others to revise the books and charts of acupuncture and moxibustion.

He also designed and made Charts of Three Views, in which "the twelve regular meridians and the eight extra meridians were illustrated in various colors, and there were altogether 650 points. During this period there appeared monographs on the treatment of special diseases, for example, the book Moxibustion Method for Consumptive Diseases written by Cui Zhidi, in which moxibustion treatment of tuberculosis was described.

It has been found that the earliest block-printed edition of acupuncture and moxibustion is A New Collection of Moxibustion Therapy for Emergency, which appeared in the year 862, specially describing the moxibustion therapy for emergencies.

In the seventh century, acupuncture and moxibustion had already become a special branch of medicine, and those specialized in this field were entitled acupuncturists and moxibustionists.

During the Tang Dynasty, the Imperial Medical Bureau the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china for medical education was divided into four departments of medical specialities and one department of pharmacology. And the department of acupuncture was also one of them, in which there were one professor of acupuncture, one assistant professor, ten instructors, 20 technicians and 20 students. The acupuncture professor was in charge of teaching the students the meridian-collaterals and acupuncture points, pulse diagnosis, and manipulating methods of needling.

In the Five Dynasties 907-960Liao Dynasty 916-1125Song Dynasty 960-1279Kin Dynasty 1115-1234 and Yuan Dynasty 1206-1368the extensive application of printing technique greatly promoted the accumulation of medical literature and speeded up the dissemination and development of Chinese medicine and pharmacology.

Supported by the Northern Song government, the famous acupuncturist Wang Weiyi revised the locations of the acupuncture points and their related meridians, and made a supplement to the indications of acupuncture points.

In 1026, he wrote the book Illustrated Manual on the Points for Acupuncture and Moxibustion on a New Bronze Figure, which was block printed and published by the government.

In 1027, two bronze figures designed by the Wang Weiyi were manufactured, the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china the internal organs set inside and the meridians and points engraved on the surface for visual teaching and examination. These achievements and measures promoted the unification of the theoretical knowledge of acupuncture points and meridians.

The famous acupuncturist Wang Zhizhong of the Southern Song Dynasty wrote book Canon on the Origin of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, in which he said stress on practical experiences including folk experiences, exerting a great influence on later generations. The famous doctor Hua Shou of the Yuan Dynasty did textual research on the pathways of meridians and collaterals as well as their relationship with acupuncture points.

In 1341 he wrote the book Exposition of the Fourteen Meridians, which further development the theory of meridians and acupuncture and moxibustion. Some of them laid emphasis on the theory and technique of a particular aspect. So different branches of acupuncture and moxibustion were formed.

For example, the publication of Canon of Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Children's Diseases lostMoxibustion Method for Emergencies, The Secret of Moxibudtion for Abscess and Ulcer and so on, showed the deep development of acupuncture and moxibustion into various branches of the clinic. Xi Hong of the early Southern Song Dynasty, who was from a famous acupuncture family, particularly stressed the manipulating technique of acupuncture. And his contemporary Dou Cai wrote a book entitled Bian Que's Medical Experiences, in which he highly praised the scorching moxibustion, and even gave a general anesthesia to avoid pain while applying scorching moxibustion.

At the same time, Yang Jie and Zhang Ji observed autopsies, and advocated selecting acupuncture points in the light of anatomical knowledge. He Ruoyu and Dou Hanqin of the Kin and Yuan dynasty suggested that the acupuncture points should be selected according to ziwuliuzhu Chinese two-hour time on the basis of Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches. In the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644 acupuncture and moxibustion were work up to a climax that many problems studied deeper and broader.

There were more famous doctors specialized in this field. Chen Hui of the early stage of Ming Dynasty, Ling Yun of the middle stage, and Yang Jizhou of the later stage, all were known far and wide in China, and exerted a tremendous influence upon the development of acupuncture and moxibustion.


The main accomplishments in the Ming Dynasty were: Extensive collection and revision of the literature of acupuncture and moxibustion, e. All these works were the summarization of the literature of acupuncture and moxibustion through the ages. Studies on the manipulation methods of acupuncture. On the basis of single manipulation of acupuncture, the concept behind the age old pain treatment in ancient china than twenty kinds of compound manipulation were developed, and an academic contention was carried out about different manipulation methods.

Questions and Answers Concerning Acupuncture and moxibustion by Wang Ji in 1530 was the representative work of that academic dispute. Development of warm moxibustion with moxa stick from burning moxibustion with moxa cone. Sorting out the previous records of acupuncture sites located away from the Fourteen Meridians and formation of a new category of extra points. From the establishment of the Qing Dynasty to the Opium War 1644-1840the medical doctors regarded herbal medication as superior to acupuncture, therefore acupuncture and moxibustion gradually turned to a failure.

In the eighteenth century Wu Qian and his collaborators compiled the book Golden Mirror of Medicine by the imperial order. In this book the chapter "Essential of Acupuncture and Moxibustion in Verse" took the practical form of rhymed verse with illustrations.