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Sadie Montgomery

Professor Bisciglia

Religion 1000

10 November 2017


Acupuncture falls under the category of alternative medicine. “Alternative medicine is a

form of medical treatment that is used rather than traditional medicine. Alternative medicine

often has the same effects of traditional medicine, but it is unproven and has little to no facts

about how it works and effects an individual” (Oxford University 1). Acupuncture is a practice of

alternative medicine where thin needles are inserted into the body at different points to target

specific treatments such as anxiety, depression, nausea, insomnia, different areas of pain,

migraines, headaches, arthritis, insomnia, allergies, stomach problems, joint pain and many

more health issues. Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine but used all throughout Asia

and the United States and even all around the whole world. Each Acupuncture session lasts ten

to twenty-five minutes. Five to twenty needles are inserted into the skin while the individual is

laying still in a relaxing room. “Typically, the needles are made out of stainless steel which make

them more malleable and preventing them from rusting or even breaking. After using these

needles they are usually disposed of, but there are some you can re-use but they are not as

common” (Oxford University 2). There are different kinds of needles; some are thin and others

are thicker depending on the size of the patient. First the skin is sterilized, then with a plastic

tube guide the needle is inserted. The needle should be inserted rather quickly to avoid any
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pain. More experienced acupuncturists can usually insert the needle without any pain, while

less skilled practitioners may cause a little more pain to the patient. “While you receive

acupuncture the main goal is to experience a sensation called De-Qi” (Wikipedia 2). This

sensation is a feeling of tingling at the needle sight, numbness, or any similar feelings. This

sensation does not immediately occur during insertion, but shaking or trembling techniques can

help stimulate the process.

Acupuncture originated around 100 BC in China. This Daoist tradition originated during

the Old Stone Age when stones and bamboo were shaved down into fine needles to preform

this tradition. In 421 BC the stone and bamboo needles were replaced with metal ones made

out of silver and gold. In 265 AD, Huang Fu Mi wrote a book that explains the 349 acupuncture

points which lead to other physicians making charts and diagrams regarding the acupuncture

practice. Acupuncture was used for soldiers in the army during World War Two. In the war,

there weren’t many supplies of anaesthetics or surgery so the soldiers would get treatment

from Chinese doctor’s and had phenomenal results for the soldiers about to face bad wounds

or even death. “From the 1970’s to now, acupuncture plays a distinct role in China’s medical

beliefs. Recently, China has been researching all of the aspects and the clinical effects of

acupuncture. Over the centuries, acupuncture has been revised, tested, developed and

changed to become more effective and detailed” (MedicineNet 3). The reason that acupuncture

has been refined so much is because it gives people a deeper understanding of the body’s

energetic balance and reactions to the treatment. The people that practice acupuncture want

Chinese medicine to be a popular and recognized option within standard healthcare

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worldwide. The first time acupuncture was recorded was around 100 BC, but it is unclear what

the initial purpose was.” The main purpose of acupuncture has always been a healing process

(MedicineNet 1). “ In Daoism, the doctrinal belief is when acupuncture was preformed, the

effectiveness depended on the time of day/ night, the lunar cycle and even the current season.

In Daoism the Yin-Yang cycles is a belief that the way you cure diseases relies on the alignment

of heavenly (thien) and earthly (ti) forces who attended to cycles just like the sun and

moon”(Medicine Net 4). Daoism has different belief systems that focus on celestial and earthly

bodies/elements that became aligned at specific time periods. Also the “spill of blood” can lead

to ch’I (also known as Qi energy) energy which is a peak of spirituality and a very eye opening

experience in Daoism. Qi energy is the flow of energy created along the certain pathways that

connect all the special acupuncture points on the body. These points and pathways are also

known as meridians which connect the inner organs of the body together. The spilling of blood

throughout the body will balance the Yin and the Yang which means when the acupuncture

causes bleeding, it is not a bad sign, it is a good one for a good release of energy.

The mythological dimension of acupuncture has a few different interesting stories and

myths to the tradition. In the Shi Ji (a renounced famous book of Chinese history), in 5th Century

BC in Middle-North China, a doctor named Bian Que went to the Kingdom of Guo to be

informed of the news that the Prince had just passed away and a funeral was being prepared

for his burial as they spoke. Eventually, the doctor said he could bring the Prince back to life

using Chinese alternative medicine. Bian Que looked at the corpse (took his heart rate and

checked other vital signs) and said he was suffering from something called “Shi Jue” which is a
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very deep coma which is almost impossible to be awoken from. He was able to wake the Prince

up from this coma by using acupuncture alone, puncturing the point on the body called the Bai

Hui (San Yan Wu Hui). This myth shows that acupuncture has beneficial outcomes. This story

proves that acupuncture is a sufficient form of treatment and powerful. It is powerful because

in the story the acupuncturist brings the Prince out of his deep coma only using the needles and

specific points in the body to put them.

There are no specific rituals documented of acupuncture. “But Taoists believe there is a

force called “Qi” that makes everything in your body work correctly, it pumps blood around the

body, allows lungs to work, muscles to move around, the gut and stomach to digest food. Qi is

essential to life and all vitality within the human body and its functions” (Oxford University 2).

There are two different kinds of Qi, such as Congenital Qi which is the Qi every person was born

with and Acquire Qi which comes from the food you eat and the air that you breathe. The flow

of Qi helps and improves health and personal well-being in general. Without Qi, there is no

movement or function or vitality. The Taoists believe that Qi moves throughout the body to

each and every organ and makes them function properly and doing their job. From each organ,

there is a pathway that travels throughout the body which gives function to everything. The

acupuncture “points” awaken certain areas of Qi that were already there, just making a

stronger connection with the Qi to the different organs and functions of the body. During

treatment, a patient may feel the Qi moving throughout their meridians, or nothing at all

because it depends on the individual. When giving acupuncture the person is not giving you Qi,

but directing and

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stimulating the Qi the patient already has within their bodies. The job of the acupuncturist is to

direct the patient in the way of healing themselves and steer them in the right path to

unlocking their own Qi and allowing the body to cure its own imbalances and speed up the

process of the body’s self healing function.

I chose acupuncture as a subject to write about because I have gotten the process done

before. I find this subject very interesting because I have personally experienced the sensation

of “Qi”. I was getting acupuncture done when I did ballet everyday. I got acupuncture done for

my knee joint pain. When the needles were being inserted I was scared at first, but it didn’t

hurt at all because the acupuncturist was very experienced and had useful techniques so the

needles would go in without any discomfort or pain. I laid down in a relaxing room with the

needles in the certain points for about twenty minutes. Near the fifteen minute mark, I started

to feel a tingling sensation near the point of needle insertion. At the time, I didn’t know this was

the “Qi” experience. I only figured out I had experienced this when I did the research on

acupuncture which I found to be very interesting. The idea of “Qi” is the most interesting thing I

learned about acupuncture. It is quite fascinating that there is a common goal of the practice of

Chinese medicine, and in this case it is acupuncture. It is not always possible to achieve this

sensation, but it is the ultimate goal of acupuncture. I learned that acupuncture has been

practiced since the stone ages and has been used among many different kinds of people. Also in

World War Two it was used on the soldiers and helped them get cured and it showed

spectacular results of improvement and treatment. It is interesting how acupuncture has

helped so many individuals such as cancer patients to help with pain and nausea, to people
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with everyday anxiety. Acupuncture is a great treatment and is growing in popularity almost

Work cited

“Acupuncture: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 21 Feb. 2017, nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction.

“Acupuncture.” Wikipedia; Acupuncture, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Nov. 2017,


White, A., and E. Ernst. “ | Rheumatology | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1
May 2004, academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/43/5/662/1788282.

“How Does Acupuncture Work? Points, Benefits & Needles.” MedicineNet,