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Medical Acupuncture

Dr. Vinay Varma

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Acupuncture in Modern Medicine

Acupuncture is an important prestigious heritage of Chinese people. Traditional Chinese medicine which includes acupuncture has been largely integrated with Western medicine in China. Patients entering hospitals and clinics may opt, if they wish, for the whole spectrum of antibiotics or other modern drugs, or they may prefer to take the door that leads to the traditional Acupuncture department. Western or Chinese, who do we discuss medicines in such isolated and culturally relative terms, while disciplines like mathematics and physics know no such boundaries. Since traditional and Western medicines have the same object to cure and help suffering humanity. They should not have to compete but rather compete but rather complement each other for the ultimate good of the patient. For the patient whose only wish is to get well as quickly as possible, without any harmful effects, this is all that matters for the patient.

Considerable controversy has surrounded Acupuncture, on the one hand extravagant claims have been made for its efficacy while, on the other hand, it has been criticized for its lack of Scientific standing. There are fake training centers, fake acupuncturists. Unfortunately, every profession has its incompetents, quacks and confidence tricksters. Acupuncture practitioners may have more than their fair share of these because there is no agreed standard of training which must be reached before one may practice acupuncture.

So what is a Scientific Method?

At the close of the last century, T. H. Huxley defined science as organized common sense and the method of organization came to be known as Scientific method. The scientific method consists of observations inference and experiment, followed by the formulation of hypothesis, theories and laws which in turn are subject to verification or otherwise by further experiments. Acupuncture was born from keen observations of clinical facts. Aldous Huxley states that a needle stuck into one’s foot should improve the headache or functioning of one’s liver is obviously incredible, it can not be believed because, in terms of currently accepted physiological theory it makes no sense. Within our system of explanation there is no reason why the needle prick should be followed by an improvement of headache or liver function. Therefore, we say it can’t happen. The only trouble with this argument is that, as a matter of empirical fact, it does happen, inserted at precisely the right point, the needle in the foot regularly affects the function of liver, or improves the headache. What should we do about events which by all the rules, ought not to occur, but which nevertheless occur? Two course are open to us, we can either shut our eyes with the hope that, if we don’t look at them, they will go away and leave us in peace or alternatively we can accept them ? accept them for time being as inexplicable anomalies and confirm, that is what I have done.

It is believed that acupuncture developed in both India and China, independently of each other. If we go back to the Indian medical classics, known as Vedas, said to have been written about 7000 years ago, we find “needle therapy” mentioned there. The oldest known Chinese book on acupuncture, Nei Ching, did not appear before fourth century before Christ and historical data indicate that the Nei Ching was probably written around the second or Third century B. C. One volume of the Vedas, known as Suchi Veda, translated as the “art of piercing with a needle,” was written approximately 3,000 years ago and deals entirely with acupuncture, and described 180 points known as “MARMA”, which are said to heal or kill. The whole knowledge of Shalya Chikitsa or acupuncture is arranged in an orderly manner in eight volumes of the famous ancient Classic Sushruta Sanhita. Nevertheless, one cannot argue the fact that the acupuncture was more developed by the Chinese than the Indians, and presented to the World in a more complete fashion.

So, What is Acupuncture?

The word Acupuncture is derived from Latin. In Latin, acus = needle, pungra = to prick, to prick a needle for treatment is acupuncture. The combination of acupuncture and moxibustion is known in Chinese as Chen Chiu [needle and heat therapy.] Acupuncture treatment is usually carried out by inserting very fine needles at acupuncture points. Acupuncture point means a specific spot on the body surface where needling is done to get particular therapeutic response. The practice of cauterizing a part of the ear or body with a hot metal probe is very common in rural India and many Asian countries even today, is nothing but rudimentary form of acupuncture. The Eskimos of instance, are still using sharpened stones for treating their illnesses. The Bantus of South Africa scratch certain areas of their skin to ally the symptoms of many illnesses, while in Brazil there is a tribe whose method of treating illnesses is to shoot tiny arrows from a blow pipe on to a specific areas on the surface. Karate, the martial art of unarmed combat from Japan is yet another variation of acupuncture. Moxibustion represents a special form of point stimulation and involves burning pieces of drug plants generally the moxa leaf, either on needle so as to conduct heat into the body, or in some cases actually on the surface of the skin directly or indirectly by using some kind of barriers like ginger of garlic slices.


Anand Polio and Pain Relief Centre, Eureka Colony, Op: SBI Zonal Office Sholapur Road, Keshwapur, Hubli, 580023. Phone: 283977

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