Chin. original name: zhenjiu – pricking and burning (moxibustion) Lat. acus – needle, pungere – stinging “therapy with needles


“Acupuncture uses punctures with gold or silver needles at precisely defined main points, which can be painful spontaneously or under pressure, in the case of functional reversible diseases or disorders for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes. “This definition of acupuncture according to De la Fuye is still valid, with one exception: Today, mainly sterile steel needles are used. In China, however, gold and silver needles are being used again occasionally.


Acupuncture and moxibustion (heat treatment at designated points) is only a small part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which in turn is only a small part of a philosophical system. In our western medicine, however, only acupuncture has found its way to a larger extent. Nevertheless acupuncture is still controversial.

On the one hand there are fanatics who sell acupuncture as a universal therapy, on the other hand it is angrily rejected by colleagues as charlatanry. Both are wrong. Acupuncture is certainly not a panacea.

It is an orderly therapy, the use of which is useful for the disturbed, but not for the destroyed. Acupuncture cannot therefore repair destroyed organs and tissue. However, it triggers the body’s self-healing process and can restore disturbed functions and relieve pain.

What exactly happens in the body during acupuncture has not yet been scientifically proven one hundred percent. However, thanks to modern scientific research methods, the effects of acupuncture have been much better explained in recent years. Nevertheless, there is no lack of explanations for the fact that, for example, shoulder pain can be treated particularly well from a certain point on the lower leg, but not from a point just next to it.

The following effects have been scientifically proven to date: Most patients usually feel a pleasant, soothing and relaxing sensation after the first treatment. The healing effect is due, among other things, to the fact that the stimulating stimulus of the needles triggers an increased release of pain-relieving and mood-lifting substances in the brain. These “happiness hormones” are With modern methods, such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging – nuclear spin), the effects of acupuncture or laser acupuncture can be detected via the metabolic activity in the brain.

In the areas of the brain that are connected to the stimulated acupuncture points, increased activity can be seen. Acupuncture can also help to relieve the pain of bone edema in the knee area. – Nervous-reflective

  • Humoral endocrine: influence on the production of endorphins, serotonin, cortisone
  • Vasoactive effect: directly on blood circulation and via activation of the vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)
  • Muscle action
  • Effect on the immune system
  • Serotonin
  • Endogenous morphines like the
  • Endorphin and
  • Enkephalins.

If you want to understand the principle and application of acupuncture, you cannot avoid to study the history and origin of this art of healing. Acupuncture is an ancient therapy technique from China. At that time, pain and illness were still associated with spirits and demons.

The beginnings can be dated to more than 3000 years before Christ. Excavations prove this with finds of stone or bamboo needles. Often great medical breakthroughs and achievements are discovered by chance or even accidents.

Such strokes of luck also existed at the beginning of acupuncture. Due to accidental bruises, skin abrasions or arrow wounds, pain suddenly disappeared and did not reappear. Rubbing and massaging as well as tapping certain parts of the body also relieved pain.

Over time, certain points crystallized which were particularly effective and one began to research and systematize these connections. In the beginning, relatively thick stone needles were used to puncture and stone splinters were cut. Later, needles were made of bamboo, bone and, in the Bronze Age, metals.

Today, mainly sterile disposable needles are used. A similar situation existed with the burning method (moxibustion). After fire was discovered, its pain-relieving and soothing warmth was recognized.

At first simple coal was used, later, with the further development of moxibustion, the so-called moxa herb (mugwort) was used. It can be rolled as a kind of cigar, for example, and is held carefully over the skin when burning (danger of burns!) and additionally stimulates various points.

The first major work on acupuncture was written about 221 BC to 220 AD in the Han Dynasty. The historian Si Ma Jian (also: Sima Qian) wrote the “Inner Classic of the Yellow Prince” – “Huangdi Neijing”. In this work the legendary yellow emperor (Huang ti) conducts a dialogue with his minister Chi Po.

This book is the basic work of Traditional Chinese Medicine in general and of acupuncture and moxibustion in particular. In this book, the most important pathways, various needles, stitching techniques and indications for the use of specific acupuncture points are described. This work describes 160 classical acupuncture points.

Basically it consists of two parts. On the one hand it contains the “Unbiased Questions” (Suwen). This part deals mainly with the theory of medicine.

On the other hand, the Lingshu (pivot of the structural force/centre of action) describes acupuncture practice, meridians, collateral, points, manipulation techniques etc. A big problem is the translation of this work. Meanwhile there are numerous variations and interpretations.

Reasons for this are the different dialects in China, the change of meaning, grammar and pronunciation in the course of time, the interpretation of Chinese picture-writing, different emphasis of single syllables (syllables pronounced the same way and the same characters can also have different meanings), synonyms of acupuncture points as well as their numbering in the course of the meridians, etc. So you can see that some problems arise when studying these wisdoms. Therefore, one should entrust oneself to a “Nei Jing expert” in order to work out the contents exactly.

Another classic is the “Nanjing” (classic of objections) by Qin Yue-Ren (also called Bian Que). He lived 500 B.C. and draws on the previous work.

In this work the Aku Moxi therapy is explained for the first time. Surgeons also used acupuncture techniques. The famous (and first known) surgeon Hua Tuo (110-207 AD) is said to have cured his patients with only one needle.

He additionally anaesthetised them with a herbal mixture (Ma Fei San) of hemp and wine. Huang Fumi wrote the ” Systematic Aku-Moxi Classic (zhenjiu jiayi jing)” (classic about stinging and burning or the ABCs of acupuncture and moxibustion) in the Jin Dynasty about 259 A.D., which is the second most important work after the book of the yellow emperor. In it acupuncture is systematized and for the first time 349 points are mentioned and described, which were not yet known in the “Book of the Yellow Prince”.

In the work “Recipes worth a thousand gold pieces” (Qian jin Fang) Sun Si Miao writes about the fact that a really good doctor does not use acupuncture without moxibustion, and vice versa, does not practice herbal therapy without acupuncture. The TCM world owes a very special invention to the physician Wang Weiyi. To test his students he built two life-size bronze statues, filled them with water and covered them with beeswax.

If the pupils hit the right spots, a small jet of water flowed out of the bronze figure. The accompanying work, which was published in 1027 A.D. (“tong ren shu xue zhen jiu tu jing” – Illustrated manual on points for acupuncture and moxibustion using a bronze statue) set new milestones. In the course of time, new findings, new points and meridians were added and the old familiar was summarized and expanded.

A preliminary highlight of the presentation of acupuncture and TCM can be found in the 16th and 17th century in “Sum of Aku – Moxi – Therapy” (zhen jiu da cheng) from 1601. In this work Yang Ji-Zhou summarized all literature available up to that time, added new findings and provided everything with numerous comments and case descriptions, as well as secret treatment methods. Up to this time of the Ming Dynasty acupuncture developed steadily.

Under the feudal rule of the Ching Dynasty and colonialism, however, this development stagnated. From the 19th century onwards, Western medicine was introduced in the course of modernization and acupuncture and moxibustion were excluded from medical schools. Only among the people could this art survive.

The more Western medicine was spread in China, the more TCM had to give way. In 1929 a motion was even made to ban traditional healing methods. It was only after the Communist Party under Mao Zedong came to power that acupuncture and herbal therapy received equal status with Western medicine.

However, this was partly due to the fact that it was recognised that the country had too few doctors trained to scientific standards to be able to provide sufficient medical care. Therefore, about 500,000 TCM practitioners were integrated into the state health system as so-called “barefoot doctors”. It was hoped that, over time, they would increasingly adopt Western medicine. Nowadays, a medical student in China has to learn Traditional Chinese Medicine for at least one year in his 5-year course of study, even if he only wants to practice conventional medicine.