06.12.2019 / Uncategorized

History of Acupuncture

When you think of what a chiropractor does, acupuncture is likely not the first thing that comes to mind, but it is an integral part of the way I treat my patients. My treatment method for back pain, the Butler Spine Program, is an integrated mix of therapies including chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, and acupuncture.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine used for treating a wide variety of ailments. It is based on the idea that energy moves within the body by way of 12 pathways known as meridians, which correspond with different organs and muscle groups. It’s thought that this energy, called qi (pronounced “chee”), needs to move freely and consistently in the body for an individual to stay healthy.


While the origins of acupuncture are said to date back to prehistory, the first documented reference to acupuncture was in the The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine in China around 100 BCE. The Chinese used acupuncture in tandem with other homeopathic practices, such as massage, diet, herbs, and heat therapy or moxibustion.

During the Ming Dynasty, which spanned from 1368 to 1644, The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion was written, establishing the foundation for the practice of acupuncture that we are familiar with today.

The Spread of Acupuncture

It wasn’t until the 1600s that this form of traditional Chinese medicine made its way into the West by way of explorer and traders. The first description of acupuncture by a Westerner was written by explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto in his memoirs in 1614. Over the next two centuries, acupuncture slowly spread throughout Europe, mainly staying within academic circles.

Acupuncture in America

Acupuncture was brought to America in the early 1800s and gained some traction with physicians over the next few decades. The practice didn’t hit the mainstream until the 1970s when journalist James Reston wrote a piece in the New York Times about his experience with acupuncture. He’d received acupuncture for pain while on a trip to China and the effectiveness of his treatment left a lasting impression on him.

Nevada was the first state to regulate the practice of acupuncture in 1973, and by the end of the 70s eight states had laws regarding acupuncture treatments. The first acupuncture school in the US, the New England School of Acupuncture, was opened in 1975 in Newton, Massachusetts, setting the stage for the profession to grow in America.

Since the 1970s, America’s interest in acupuncture has continued to grow, and it is now widely accepted as an effective form of alternative medicine all over the world. Curious to know whether acupuncture could benefit you? Set up an appointment with Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy today to find out!