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Origin of acupuncture

As an important invention of the Chinese, Acupuncture and moxibustion originated as early as the clan commune period of the primitive society. The activities of human beings appeared in China about 1,700,000 years ago. It was about 100,000 years ago that China entered the clan commune period which lasted till 4,000 years ago. In the ancient literature there were many legends about the origin of acupuncture and moxibustion such as FuXi's creation of the therapeutic techniques with stone needles, and Huang Di's invention of acupuncture and moxibustion.

In the classics of two thousand years ago, it was frequently cited that the acupuncture instruments were made of stone and named bian stone. For example, in Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals, there is a paragraph in historical records for 550 B.C., saying: "Praise pleasant to hear that does an ill turn is worse than advice unpleasant to hear that acts like a stone." FU Qian in the second century explained that "stone" here meant bian stone. Quan Yuanqi who lived around the 5th-6th centuries pointed out: "bian stone is an ancient appliance for external treatment and was known by three names: i.e. needle stone, bian stone and arrow-headed stone. In fact, they are same thing. Because there was no iron casting in ancient times, the needles were made of stone." This is correlated with the fact that the stone instruments were extesively used in the primitive society. Primitive period in China was divided into two stages, the Old Stone Age (from remote antiquity to 10,000 years ago) and the New Stone Age (from 10,000 - 4,000 years ago). In the Old Stone Age the ancestors knew how to use stone knives and scrapers to incise an abscess drain pus and let blood out for therapeutic purposes. With the accumulation of experence the indecations of the treatment by bian stone were gradually increased. In the New Stone Age because of the improvement in their technique of stone processing, the ancient peoele were able to make bian stone as a special tool with more medical usage. In China a bian stone needle 4.5 cun long (about 15 cm) was discovered in the New Stone Age ruins in Duolun County of Inner Mongolia. At one end, it is oval shaped with a semicircular edge used for incising boils and abscesses, and at the other end, it is pyramid shaped with a square base used for bloodletting. Two more bian stones were discovered as funerary objects in a late New Stone Age grave in Rizhao County of Shandong Province. They are 8.3 cm and 9.1 cm in length respectively, with three-edged and cone-shaped ends used for bloodletting and regulating Qi circulation. The discoved relics of bian stone have provided powerful evidence that acupuncture originated early in the primitive society.

According to the records of Chapter 12 of Plain Questions: "The treatment with bian stone needle was originated in the east coast of China where the inhabitants lived on fishery, and moxibustion was originated in the north where the people subsisted on animal husbandry. Because it was cold and windy in the northern areas, people had to warm themselves by fire. Living in camps and subsisting on milk, they easily suffered from abdominal pain and distension by cold, suitable to be treated by heat. Through long-term accumulation of experiences moxibustion therapy and hot compression were created."

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