Development of acupuncture outside China
Outside of China, acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) reached Japan via Korea in about 600 AD. The monk Zhi Cong, for example, brought books from China to Japan. In the Occident, first reports became known in the 14th century AD through Marco Polo.
But it was not until 1657 that the Dutch doctor Jakob de Bondt published a work on the natural history and medicine of East Asia (Willem Piso’s work “De utriusque Indiae”). The term “acupuncture” was finally coined by Beijing Jesuit monks in the 17th century. In 1683 Willem Ten Rhyne wrote a detailed treatise on the clinical effects of needle-stick therapy and the system of pathways, which he mistakenly interpreted as blood vessels.
In 1712 Engelbert Kaempfer wrote about the therapy of abdominal pain and helped acupuncture to gain more attention. Both Ten Rhyne and Kaempfer wrote their reports based on research in Japan. Some of them did not even know the fundamental differences to Chinese therapy.
In 1809, the first clinical trials of acupuncture were conducted by the Parisian physician Louis Berlioz, and it was used almost exclusively in pain therapy. In the following decades a real “acupuncture euphoria” arose in Paris. The first German publication about acupuncture was in 1824 through a translation of “A Treatise on Acupuncture” by the Englishman James M. Churchill.
Other well-known names that helped acupuncture to gain new honors in Europe: De la Fuye, Chamfrault and then the Vietnamese Nguyen van Nghi, who lived in France, while in the German-speaking countries especially Heribert Schmidt, Gerhard Bachmann, Erich Stiefvater and later Manfred Porkert were committed to acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). In America and Canada, it was mainly the Chinese abroad who helped to spread TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), but after China opened its doors to foreigners in the 1980s, a whole new era of TCM was heralded in the West, especially with regard to herbal therapy. Today many TCM students travel to the Middle Kingdom to learn directly at the roots of TCM.