Acupuncture – definition


Acupunture is a method of treatment derived from ancient Chinese Medicine. During last fifty years it gained a lot of attention and respect in Western countries due to its unique effectiveness and safety. Following article presents the definition of acupuncture, its Chinese name and discusses other techniques of stimulating acupuncture points.

Acupuncture is the method of treatment based on influencing the body by inserting  needles in the specific points of human body, called acupoints.

The name originates from Latin and literally means “inserting needles” – Latin „acus” – needle and „punctura” – to needle/to stick needles.

Chinese word for acupuncture is  针灸, ZhenJiu. This word consists of two characters, which- before the reorganization of Chinese writing- looked like as follows:  針灸 and mean, respectively: metal needle and heating, or cauterization using mugwort wormwood (Latin: artemisia vulgaris). The name itself indicates that not only needles are utilized in acupuncture for stimulation of acupoints.

A broader definition of acupuncture therefore includes various techniques of acupoints’ stimulation, using:

  • needles
  • heating/cauterization – moxa, moxibustion  
  • pressure/massage – acupressure
  • prądu elektrycznego – elektroakupunktura
  • coherent laser light- photopuncture or laser therapy

Acupuncture is, apart from specific dietetics, herbal therapy and the system of physical exercises , one of treatment methods originating from Far Eastern medical systems, called -for the matter of simplification- Chinese Medicine. As these systems were codified no later than between
II century BC and II century AD, they were described using the state of knowledge of the then contemporary inhabitants of South-Eastern Asia. It must be underlined that Chinese Medicine is
a coherent, complete, closed medical system, including its specific human physiology, pathology, disease terminology, methods of diagnosing and therapeutic methods.

Unfortunately, set of notions used for its description differs substantially from the notions used in contemporary Western sciences, which results in immense difficulties in cooperation of these two systems.

What is more, at the time the frameworks of the contemporary medicine were created and drugs elaborated in chemical laboratories allowed for the intervention in human body with the strongest impact ever, Chinese Medicine -together with the civilization in which it had formerly originated- was experiencing the extreme crisis. All that hindered Chinese Medicine to become an equal partner in discussion on a human being. As a consequence, Chinese Medicine was rejected from the scientific circle, marginalized and it is only today it has strenuously been seeking for acknowledgement in scientific circles.

Except from the aforementioned processes, it was difficult not to notice the astounding effectiveness of acupuncture.  Most historians agree that the general fascination with Chinese Medicine is connected with the article by James Reston, who described in “New York Times” his experiences with pain reduction after appendectomy in Beijing, with the application of acupuncture Even if the event itself was not a particular breakthrough, it generally marks the commencement of the fantastic “career” of acupuncture in the Western world. Since the beginning of the seventies of the 20th century Western science has attempted to characterize the phenomenon of acupuncture using its own system of notions and its own research methods. Since then, the amount of published scientific works on acupuncture has constantly been growing.

Despite the reluctance of certain representatives of medical establishment, scientific knowledge concerning acupuncture has constantly been developed by the researches worldwide. Research methods have constantly been discussed and adopted to new findings. More and more rigorous, randomized, supervised clinical researches proves the effectiveness of acupuncture in consecutive indications, and experiments in the scope of basic tests provide more and more pieces of evidence for the impact of acupuncture on various body functions, revealing the molecular bases of acupuncture activity. Furthermore, economic analyses, necessary from the point of view of managing contemporary healthcare systems, prove the economic legitimacy of this extraordinary method. provides reliable, updated knowledge in the subject of acupuncture. This knowledge is inevitable for patients, medical practitioners and officers managing healthcare system to help them undertake conscious decisions concerning treatment.