Acupuncture is a system of treatment of diseases which has been practiced in China for nearly 5000 years. It consists in the rapid insertion of fine steel needles about 6 centimeters long, on particular spots on the body of the patient. After inserting the needle the doctor twirls the needle between his thumb and forefinger. There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the body. When a puncture is made on a spot on the body, energy flows from there along lines known as meridians to the diseased organs. This flow of energy helps to restore the balance of the system and thus correct the disorder.

The points of treatment may be far from the seat of the disease. For example, to cure a toothache, the acupuncturist may insert a needle on the palm of the patient. Although China is considered to the country where acupuncture originated, some forms of treatment resembling it have been reported from other parts of the world by anthropologists. Among some ancient tribes, stone and arrows were used to prick the skin. In another form of treatment, the skin on particular spots of the body was burnt to effect a cure for certain diseases. Whether these kinds of treatment can rightly be classed with acupuncture can be known only after further research.

For long acupuncture was dismissed by the west as a form of superstition like witchcraft and magic cure. Even in China admiration for the western system of medicine was so great that the native systems of treatment were neglected of mistrusted. Moreover, the theoretical basis for acupuncture that was propounded in China was mixture of spirituality, philosophy and physiology. This stood in the way of its acceptance by Chinese scientists. During the 1960’s acupuncture came to the notice of western scientist, who viewed it with skepticism as well as curiosity. Doctors from Europe went to China to make a first-hand study of this strange form of treatment. They were convinced by what then saw that acupuncture worked.

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Not only were diseases cured but even operations were performed after administering an aesthesia by acupuncture. The patient of such an operation could see and know what was being done, but felt no pain. After the operation he could get up and walk away. Doctors in other parts of the world took acupuncture seriously and some of them trained themselves and set up practice in their counties. In China itself the status of acupuncture rose when Chairman Mao officially ranked acupuncturists with other physicians.


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