As a kid, I hated shots. Who didn’t, really? It seemed stupid (and scary) to jab someone with a sharp needle in order to make them feel better. What made even less sense was stabbing a perfectly innocent six year old who wasn’t sick, to hopefully prevent him from becoming sick later.
|Naturally, I needed to be bribed with candy to soothe my mental dissonance.|
In America, we’re accustomed to giving immunizations and boosters to prevent illness. Although some controversy still surrounds the topic of vaccination (which I’m not about to get into, because I will become preachy and opinionated,) most physicians accept it as a necessary step towards a healthier future.
Now Multiply One Needle by Hundreds
Acupuncture, in theory, is not so different from a vaccination. As I mentioned in my previous article about tai chi, ancient Chinese philosophy asserts the human body possesses a natural energy called qi (pronounced “chi.”) This energy is created and stored in the kidneys and then flows throughout the body through energy pathways called meridians. From these meridians, qi flows to 670 points all over our bodies.
|But what does this have to do with anything?|
Just like with tai chi, acupuncture seeks to regulate our body’s natural energy. Because this energy flows through all of our major organs, veins, arteries, joints, muscles and so on, proper circulation of energy is critical for healthy bodily functions. By this assumption, any disease or bodily malfunction is symptomatic of bad energy flow. And by correcting the flow, a physician could help the body to heal itself. This is where the needles and those 670 qi points come into play.
Acupuncture has a history as early as 2000 B.C.E. It was standardized in 1026 C.E. when the Emperor Renzong ordered Dr. Wang Weiyi to compile the most accurate information of the time and put it into a book. The problem was that, although acupuncture was popular and many acupuncturists were successful, few shared their secrets. So Dr. Weiyi wrote the New Standard Acupuncture Points Diagrams that detailed 365 acupoints.
But that’s not the interesting part.
The interesting part is how Dr. Weiyi created two bronze statues with the points marked on them. How did he figure out all the points? Legend has it that the Emperor offered convicts a deal – let Dr. Weiyi experiment on you and your sentence will be reduced.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in acupuncture came from experimentation on living prisoners.
So, interesting interlude aside, why does acupuncture seem so weird to us? As I said, it’s common in America to poke people with needles to keep them from getting sick. The preventative medicine we practice here is similar to acupuncture.
“But we don’t believe in some strange energy that heals the body… That’s just crazy!”
You’re right – we believe in teeny, tiny little particles, so small that we can’t see, invading our bodies and taking over our cells. So we take needles filled with different teeny, tiny little particles, and inject these into ourselves to prevent the bad kind from getting us sick.
|"The space he invades gets by on you."|
Yep. We’re far too advanced to believe in something as crazy as acupuncture.