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  Wai Tak Cheung: History Of Acupuncture  
  Chinese culture is more than 5,000 years old, encompassing a wide range of ancient and modern arts and sciences. Acupuncture is an inheritance from the ancients' wisdom, dating back over 4,000 years-twice the age of Western medicine. Herbalism does not date back as far, but today, with the cooperation of the Chinese people, both acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been bestowed as a gift upon the West.

The word "acupuncture" derives from the very earliest practices of using a "sharp stone" treatment, wherein a bamboo shoot or sharpened stick was used to accurately puncture the skin for lasting healing effects. Later, the technique was refined as a more intricate knowledge of "working-metal". This made it possible to make needles of iron, then silver, then gold.

The earliest book written about Traditional Oriental Medicine, Huang I, Nei Jing or The Yellow Emperor's International Classic (250 BC), includes detailed theories of anatomy, physiology, etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. It is still a basic text for every acupuncturist and herbalist. This book explains the 14 meridians of the body and speaks of the 365 points dealing with the 365 days of the Chinese calendar year; 132 are named points, and the remaining 233 are shown, but not named. Later, the system was refined to include 12 regular meridians and 8 extra meridians, with 657 points recognized today.

In recent years, China practiced a "closed door" policy during reconstruction, but historically has been open to outside influences and cultures. In 1460, the famous Silk Road between Arabia and Asia introduced Western art, religion, and commerce into Chinese culture; much that came in with the Silk Road has now become a part of China. More recently, China has accepted the religious influences that came in from the West in the last 200 years: Orthodox and Protestant Christian, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, and Catholic Chinese join Islamic and Buddhist Chinese, whose beliefs came in years ago, along side the more commonly known Taoists and Confucians. With Western religious ideas came other Western ideas and practices, such as new ways of cooking and dressing, but most importantly, Chinese healers learned new techniques from the Western medical practitioners.

For thousands of years, China has been a nation of millions who have used acupuncture. Over 200 years ago, Western medicine's use of surgery and drugs was introduced to China and combined with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The Chinese now have a more complete health care system than does the West. When patients' conditions have been diagnosed, they understand which form of medicine to employ. In mainland China and Taiwan, traditional Western medical hospitals-through the use of equipment and combined efforts of acupuncturists, MD's, and Doctors of Chinese Medicine, -can help more emergency patients and treat more acute diseases and conditions than realized by the acupuncturists of years ago.
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