Acupuncture’s origins in China are uncertain. In China, the practice of acupuncture can perhaps be traced as far back as the Stone Age, with the Bian shi, or sharpened stones.
Acupuncture gained attention in the United States when President Nixon visited China in 1972. The visiting delegation was shown on television viewing an open-chest surgery when the patient under operation was fully awake.
Classical texts describe most of the main acupuncture points as existing on the twelve main and two of eight extra meridians (also referred to as mai) for a totals of fourteen “channels” through which qi and Blood flow. Other points not on the fourteen channels are also needled. Local pain is treated by needling the tender “ashi” points where qi or Blood is believed to have stagnated.
The meridians are part of the controversy in the efforts to reconcile acupuncture with conventional medicine. The National Institutes of Health 1997 consensus development statement on acupuncture stated that acupuncture points, Qi, contemporary understanding of the body.
Most modern acupuncturists use disposable stainless steel needles of fine diameter (0.007 to 0.020 ins. 0/18 to 0.51 mms.), sterilized with ethylene oxide or by autoclave. These needles are far smaller in diameter (and therefore less painful) than hypodermic injection needles since they do not have to be hollow for purposes of injection. They are disposable and only used once.