Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has thousands years history. It has unique basic theories and diagnostic methods. It is a very effective therapy in treating many chronic diseases and some acute diseases. If you are interested in TCM, welcome to pop in to this TCM forum, let's discuss on any topic about Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. If you have any health problem, you are welcome to visit my clinic Knowhow Acupuncture at 1 Harley street, London. If you are far away from London, you can pop in my online clinic to get some help. If you like this blog please share it to your friends.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Keep acupuncture in Spanish health centres

Tiejun Tang
World Acupuncture Day was celebrated 3 days ago in Paris. Unfortunately all of the acupuncturists in the World received bad news after the good news on the same day –The Spanish government has announced plans to remove alternative medicine such as acupuncture or homeopathy from health centres. The reason for this decision is to avoid the “potential harmful effects” the science and health ministers said, further stating that: “Many people still believe that some treatments work despite there being no scientific proof available,” I disagree with this opinion, in fact there is considerable scientific evidence showing that acupuncture is a scientific therapy.

Three points below show that this is an ill-considered and incorrect decision made by the Spanish government.

Firstly, many scientific research reports support acupuncture.
PubMed is a free search engine accessing primarily the MEDLINE database on life sciences and biomedical topics. It was maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health . When you put “acupuncture” as a key word in PubMed search, you can get 29,039 papers. In these papers 15,057 were published in the last 10 years; 8,474 were published in the last 5 years; 4,113 papers were randomized controlled trial (RCT)reports; 1,474 papers were published in core clinical journals; 18,876 papers were published in English; 81 papers were published in Spanish. Of course not all of these reports have got a positive conclusion, but this statistical data demonstrates that acupuncture is becoming a hot point of medical research. Many positive scientific reports of the efficacy of acupuncture can be found in the research update of ATCM  at this link.

Secondly, acupuncturist training must keep a high qualification.
Like many Western medicine therapies, acupuncture has indications and contraindications. It also has some potential risks. An acupuncturist must have proper training. In China acupuncturist must have 5 years full time training to get a BSc degree in a Chinese medicine university. They not only learn acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine but are also trained in modern medicine knowledge. They must be aware of the red flags of clinical practice. Nobody can become an acupuncturist after a very short training period, even if qualified in Western medicine. Acupuncture training varies in different counties. Statutory regulation of acupuncture is needed to protect the patients, and the integrity of the profession. The Spanish  government should regulate acupuncture rather than ban it.  

Thirdly, evaluating a therapy should have a fair standard.
Medical errors often happen in Western medicine, it has become the third leading cause of death in the US [1]. An EU-WHO statistical data report shows that medical errors and health-care related adverse events occur in 8% to 12% of hospitalizations. For example, the United Kingdom Department of Health, in its 2000 report 'An Organisation with a Memory', estimated that there are about 850 000 adverse events a year (10% of hospital admissions). Spain (in its 2005 national study of adverse events) and France and Denmark have published incidence studies with similar results [2]. The medical error incidence of acupuncture is much lower compared to Western medicine. Statistic research in China showed that  from 1950-2002 there are 1192 cases reported of acupuncture accident, and 52 death cases[3]. It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of acupuncture treatments in China every single day. The death rate is only one case per year in average. I have no comment on other alternative medicine treatments. Acupuncture is a very safe therapy if it is carried out by a high qualified practitioner. The Spanish government should use the same rule to evaluate every therapy, and listen to the feedback of the public before they make the final decision.

Eliminating acupuncture is an absolutely wrong decision.  It could not protect public health and will leave more patients exposed to the side effects of chemical drugs and the risk of surgical operations.Acupuncture is a valuable asset for all mankind, do not throw it away.

  1. Makary MA, Daniel M.  Medical error-the third leading cause of death in the US. [J]. BMJ. 2016 May 3;353:i2139. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i2139.
  2. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Health-systems/patient-safety/data-and-statistics.
  3. Zhang Ren. History and current condition of acupuncture accident. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine. 2004; 2(4): 306-313.

Friday, 2 November 2018

World Acupuncture Day review acupuncture history

Tiejun Tang

World Acupuncture Day will be celebrated in Paris at the building of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) , on the 15th of November 2018. It was organized to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the inscription of acupuncture and moxibustion, in November 2010, into the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Acupuncture is getting popular worldwide over the last few decades.  Although most people know acupuncture originates from China, many are still curious about how and when acupuncture actually first started.  As an acupuncturist we often been asked by patients as to how old acupuncture was and who invented it, etc.  There is no simple answer to these questions.  Let’s review the acupuncture history before the World Acupuncture Day. 

Unlike most other complementary therapies, it’s not the invention by just one or few persons; it’s the work of many people over a long period of time.  The origin of acupuncture could date back to as far as over four thousand years to Neolithic Age.  During that period, the Chinese ancestors started using sharp stone to stimulate certain points on the body for pain relief.  This was called Pianshi therapy. Since then, improvements were made from using sharp stone for point stimulation to stone needles, and then to needles made from jade and bone.  According to written literature, the first bronze acupuncture needles were invented by Fuxi Emperor when he was in power during 2400 – 2370 BC. There were also other classical texts that recorded that the nine types of bronze needles were invented by the Yellow Emperor during 2337 – 2307 BC. Many acupuncture theories and treatment methods were recorded in the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing), one of the most representative classical texts in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Acupuncture knowledge and experience were handed down from generation to generation with more and more literature and classical books were published.

Since 6th century AD, acupuncture knowledge had spread to Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and other neighbouring Southeast Asia countries.  With the development of maritime trade, diplomatic and missionary liaisons, acupuncture began to spread to the Western countries such as The Netherlands, France, England, Italy and Germany from the 16th century. In the first half of the nineteenth century, there was a flurry of interest in both America and Britain, and a number of publications appeared in the scientific literature including a Lancet editorial article entitled ‘Acupuncturation’ [1]. However, acupuncture had only been practised at a small scale then, and not until 1970’s that such practice had been becoming more and more popular.

In 1971, an American journalist was given acupuncture treatment to help aid his recovery from an emergency appendectomy in China. After returning back to the US, he had written an article in the New York Times about his whole experience[2].  This had aroused an ‘acupuncture heat’ in both the US and other western countries.  Many people from different nationality came to China to learn acupuncture.  Since then, the popularity of acupuncture had grown worldwide.  At present, there are practitioners in 182 countries and districts practising acupuncture.  In 2003 World HealthOrganization (WHO) published a report about clinical trials research, 91 diseases and conditions were listed as indications of acupuncture. In 15th of November 2010 acupuncture was listed to Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO

The demand for acupuncture training had also been fast growing in Europe, North America and Australia. Since written records of acupuncture began in China, many great acupuncture masters had written and passed down their precious clinical experience to their successors.  Some Chinese acupuncture books had been translated into English and other foreign languages, but unfortunately only a small part acupuncture classical text has been translated into other languages. We hope more accurate translation acupuncture monographs will be published in the future. Review the acupuncture history, we always learned more about acupuncture from our ancestors.

To understanding acupuncture history and remember World Acupuncture Day.

Reference :
          1.     AnonAcupuncturationLancet1823.; November 9. : 200. –1
          2.     Reston J. Now about my operation in Peking. New York Times 1971;1: