History Of Acupuncture - part 6

Kuomintang, a radical party, put an end to the imperial dynasty in 1912 and came to power, ruling China till the World War II came to a close. The Communists ousted the Kuomintang party after the Second World War. As the Communists were very familiar with the views of the people regarding Chinese medicine and acupuncture, they revoked all bans on using these therapies. The Communists not only encouraged the people to practice acupuncture, but also let it flourish. At the same time, they made arrangements to reprint several ancient books on Chinese medicine, which had been used for several centuries in the form of standard textbooks, while many latest books were also written. New colleges dedicated to imparting training in Chinese medicine were also set up and they had a separate acupuncture department. In the new era, research establishments were set up to study acupuncture and encourage its practice. The medical schools that existed then taught only Western medicine since acupuncture and Chinese medicine were banned in 1822. They now included acupuncture in their syllabus. Currently, there are several such schools in China and acupuncture is being taught in these institutions since 1949 in an incorporated course together with Western medicine.

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Acupuncture in the west

People in the West were actually drawn to acupuncture when it dawned on them that this ancient therapy could be used as a substitute to anesthetics to regulate pain during surgeries. There is no doubt that people in countries where acupuncture had been practiced for centuries were well aware of the usefulness of acupuncture in easing pain due to ailments. Nevertheless, it was only by the close of the 19th century that surgeries were performed extensively and it was only in 1958 that the Chinese physicians started regularly using acupuncture to regulate post-operative pains. The results of using acupuncture for this purpose was so excellent that the physicians wanted to see if using acupuncture during minor operations could help in controlling pain too. In fact, they tried tonsillectomy first without using any anesthsia for the operation. Once more, they obtained excellent results and, henceforth, the physician started using acupuncture for other minor surgeries, for instance hernia repairs and extraction of tooth.

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In due course, the physicians discovered that all patients who were treated with acupuncture for pain relief did not develop an adequate level of anesthsia to permit them to use this ancient therapy as the only means to control pain during a surgery. However, there were several other patients who tolerated surgery only with the use of acupuncture and no additional anesthesia. Even to this day, physicians in China regularly undertake several major surgeries in their hospitals only using acupuncture to control or prevent pain. Without any doubt, using acupuncture for pain control offers several benefits. It helps to avoid all hazards as well as adverse side effects caused by anesthesia brought in by injecting sedative medicines.

France was the first nation in Europe to give due importance to acupuncture. In fact, a French national named Placide Harvieu (1671-1746) is credited with writing one of the first books on acupuncture in Europe. This book had a wonderful title 'The Secrets of Chinese Medicine and the Perfect Knowledge of Pulse, Brought from China by a Respected Frenchman'. Immediately after this, Reverend Father Cleyer published one more book on acupuncture in France. However, it seems that Cleyer did not have any intention to appeal to the masses, as he wrote his book in Latin, a language not familiar to most Europeans then.

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Over two centuries ago, a Dutch national named Willem ten Rhyne (1649-1700) performed acupuncture on patients in Java. He had also written on the subject of acupuncture. However, a French physician named Dr. Louis-Joseph Berlioz (1776-1848) was the first European who actually practiced the ancient therapy in the West. It is unfortunate that Dr. Berlioz's pioneering work is seldom remembered today and people today remember the name Berlioz owing to the physician's renowned son Hector Berlioz, a legendary music composer. Nevertheless, Dr. Berlioz had published a book titled 'Memoirs on Chronic Complains' in 1816, wherein he devotes a complete chapter to acupuncture and its practice.

Many books on acupuncture were published in France during the subsequent decade and these included 'Dessertation sur l'acupuncture et ses effects therapeutiques written by J. Morand's in 1825, 'Memories sur l'electro-puncture, consideree comme moyen nauveaude traiter efficacement la goutte, les rhumatismes et les affections nerveuses, et sur l'emploi du moxa japonais en France; suivis d'um traite de l'acupuncture et do moxa, principaux movens curatifs chez les peoples de la Chine, de la Coree et du Japon by Jean Baptise Sarlandiere in 1825 as well as Traite de l'acupuncture written by Jules Cloquet in 1826. London too was not far behind, as James Morss Churchill brought out a book titled 'A treatise on acupuncture' in 1821. In his book, Churchill talked at length on surgical operation, which initially seemed something strange to the Chinese and Japanese. He also described 'zin-king' which was named by the Chinese and Japanese and, by that time, familiar to the Europeans. These were accompanied by instructions regarding how to perform them as well as incidences exemplifying its success.

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Meanwhile, a Bologna-based Italian professor of surgery as well as an exceptional and pioneering surgeon named Francesco Rizzoli (1809-1880) has been practicing acupressure since 1854. A decade later, an obstetric professor at Edinburgh, Sir James Young Simpson (1811-1870) published a book titled 'Acupressure: A New Method of Arresting Surgical Hemorrhage and of Accelerating the healing of Wounds'. Many still remember Sir James, as he first used chloroform in delivering babies (midwifery). Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that a number of physicians in the West were actually interested in acupressure and acupuncture and wanted to undertake research on them, write on these topics and, in a few instances, also practice these ancient Chinese therapies, the larger section of people engaged in the medical profession in the West were not that keen.

During the early part of the 20th century, an agent of a French bank in China Georges Soulie de Morant made up his mind to study acupuncture. On the completion of his study, Morant received an award - the title 'Master Physician'. Morant stayed in China for a long period - 20 years, and finally became the French consul. During his stay in China, Morant translated many texts on Chinese medicine into French. In addition, he also wrote two books - 'The Synopsis of the True Chinese Acupuncture', which was published in 1934 and the second book titled 'Acupuncture' was published in 1939 in two volumes.

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A German naturalist as well as a traveller Engelbert Kaempfer was the first to introduce the theory pertaining to acupuncture in his country during the close of the 17th century. In his book titled 'History of Japan', Kaempfer wrote two complete chapters on this ancient therapy. Several new books on the subject of traditional Chinese medicine as well as acupuncture were translated into German following the founding of a research institute on Chinese medicine in Germany in 1906. It was during this period that Kaempfer's book 'History of Japan' was also translated into English, but it failed to have any influence in Britain.

Several years later, in 1958, a group of physicians from Britain visited Germany to undertake research on the practice of acupuncture. It is possible that a paper published by a London-based physician Dr. Louis Moss in The Lancet stimulated the interest of these British doctors in acupuncture. In his paper, Dr. Moss noted the findings of using acupuncture to successfully treat roughly 2,000 arthritis patients. Dr. Moss discovered that treating specific 'trigger points' provided the patients permanent relief from pain caused by arthritis. He observed that many of these trigger points coincided with specific acupuncture points.

Traditional Chinese medicine as well as acupuncture were introduced into the United States and Canada when people from China arrived and settled in America for the first time during the early part of the 19th century. However, people who migrated from China had a tendency to stick with their own people and, hence, their customs as well as therapies did not spread much among the remaining population. Nevertheless, they did generate some amount of interest about Chinese medicine among a section of the North Americans and a number of books were also published on this subject as well as acupuncture. The notable books included Edward Hume's 'The Chinese Way of Medicine', which was published in 1940 and Dr. Ilza Veith's incomplete translation of the Nei Ching, which was published in 1949. While Dr. Veith did not have any personal knowledge regarding acupuncture when she began working on her book, her proficiency in the Chinese language allowed her to write a very informative and readable translation of Nei Ching, which is undoubtedly an extremely difficult and intricate work on medicine.

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