Traditional acupuncture is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine - a tried and tested healthcare system that has been practised for thousands of years in China and the Far East. It has been developed, tested, researched and refined over centuries to give us a complex and detailed understanding of the body's energetic balance.
The first known book of Chinese Medicine, the Classic of Internal Medicine of the Yellow Emperor, dates back to between the first century BC and the first century AD. All styles of acupuncture currently practised around the world trace their roots back to this text.
Without the help of modern scientific equipment, ancient Chinese scholars discovered many now familiar aspects of biomedical science, such as the effect of emotional stress on the immune system. Traditional acupuncturists are no less scientific or sophisticated than western clinicians in their understanding of how the body functions, although to this day they use terminology that reflects Chinese medicine's cultural and historic origins.
In China during the early part of the twentieth century traditional medicine fell out of fashion as symptomatic healthcare treatments were imported from the West along with other cultural influences. Calls by western trained doctors to ban traditional Chinese medicine were rejected by the National Medical Assembly in Shanghai on 17 March 1929. This day is still celebrated every year as Chinese Doctors' Day.
Traditional Chinese medicine remained in the shadow of western medicine until the Long March of 1934-5. Without drugs, anaesthetics or surgery vast numbers of sick and wounded soldiers faced death until doctors of traditional Chinese medicine achieved amazing results using acupuncture and other traditional methods of treatment.
From this point on, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and western medicine were practised side by side in China. Under the People's Republic of China, established in 1948, all branches of TCM were nurtured and encouraged to grow. By 1978, whole hospitals and research departments were devoted to the practice of TCM.
Today traditional acupuncture is practised all around the world and clinical trials are now confirming its efficacy. More and more people are able to benefit as traditional acupuncture becomes a recognised option within standard healthcare.