AcupunctureThe birth of acupuncture Meridian theory: origin and development The notion of acupuncture point and its functions The western way to acupuncture
- The birth of acupuncture
- Meridian theory: origin and development
- The notion of acupuncture point and its functions
- The western way to acupuncture
The birth of acupuncture
The founder of acupuncture is considered to be the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di (17th century BC), the legendary author of the first medical treatises, written to teach people how to prevent disease and live healthy. About this discipline, Huang Di said: “I love the Ten Thousand Peoples and the Hundred Families and I receive their tributes. I have pity on those who cannot give and I am deeply saddened to see them subject to any kind of disease. I don't want them to use harmful products. I would like them to be treated with the small needles that penetrate the meridians and the paths of energy and which harmonize the blood and the breaths, which regulate the energy movements by putting order in the inlets and outlets, in the currents and countercurrents. As a result, I order that future generations transmit a recipe that illuminates, a very clear model, which is forever and is never abolished, which is easy to use and difficult to forget. "
The birth of acupuncture is therefore confused with the dawn of Chinese civilization and culture and has the patronage of Huang Di: the classic texts refer in fact to him and to the legendary doctors who would have lived in his era.
The origin of acupuncture is in fact uncertain and represents, as some findings seem to suggest, an interesting example of how Chinese medicine has gone from a shamanic state to a very elaborate theoretical system. In some bas-reliefs of the first centuries BC, for example, the physician Bian Que is represented, a semi-legendary figure, in the form of a bird with a human head and holding a needle: the importance that the bird had in shamanism would seem to confirm the shamanic origin of acupuncture; in more remote times the needle was probably used both to detect and eradicate evil, and to defeat the evil spirits that caused disease. The use of arrows or needles, which were thrown during ceremonies against evil forces, believed to be responsible for disease, is also represented in the upper part of the character yi, medicine. It represents, on the left, a quiver containing arrows and, on the right, a hand that makes a sudden movement to hurl them. These arrows are probably nothing more than representations of acupuncture needles.
The acupuncture needles were first made of stone and only later of bone and bamboo, as is testified in the Shan hai jing, Book of the Mountains and Seas, a sort of botanical encyclopedia dating back to the fifth century BC which reports the following statement: "The Kao shih shan mountain is very rich in jade and at its feet there are many needle-shaped stones, used by doctors". The Shuowen jiezi, dictionary written in the second century BC, defines stone needles for medical use with the term bian. Next to these, in the first centuries BC, when the Chinese began to know iron and to melt it, iron needles were also used. In chapter XII of Suwen we speak of acupuncture made with both types of needle: in fact, according to this text, the inhabitants of the east subject to injuries and abscesses had to be treated with stone needles; while the inhabitants of the south who suffered from muscle contractures were treated with iron needles, stinging on the surface.
The archaeological excavations of Mawangdui, in 1972, and Taixi the following year confirmed that the use of needles, of iron or stone, dates back at least to the so-called period of the Warring States (453-221 BC), since they were some have been found in tombs of this period. It is difficult to know if these needles were used only for small surgical operations or if they were used for other purposes: to drain the abscesses, to cause bleeding, to massage along the muscles or the meridians and, finally, the thinner ones, to be inserted in specific points of the body, then becoming the acupuncture "points".
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