Acupuncture, practiced in China for over 2,500 years, continues to baffle Western medics. This ancient remedial technique cures ills that do not respond to modern medicine. It is based on the principle of puncturing points along meridians -- paths along which the body¡¯s vital energy, or qi, circulates. The existence of these meridians is as yet unsubstantiated by Western medicine, but the efficacy of acupuncture is undeniable.
Acupuncture has been accepted and applied in countries around the world. But despite its soaring global reputation, its study and use, along with other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in China is seriously falling off. The decision to become an acupuncturist now amounts to taking up a vocation, as it is barely a means to a medical living. The three generations of Cheng acupuncturists know this better than anyone.
Tiny Needles that Create Miracles
The three generations of Cheng -- grandpa Cheng Xinnong, father Cheng Hongfeng and son Cheng Kai -- are all regarded as grand masters within China¡¯s acupuncture circles. Having grown up in different eras, they each have their own perception of their profession. But all are dedicated to and convinced of the efficacy of acupuncture.
Cheng Xinnong, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, is admired for the swiftness with which he finds acupoints relevant to the ailment in question. His deft application of eight to ten needles within one minute hastens relief and recovery.
After 60 years as an acupuncturist, Grandpa Cheng has many anecdotes to tell about his work. One is of the evening he spent at a local farmer¡¯s dwelling during a medical service tour of Shanxi Province in the late 1970s. The farmer¡¯s daughter suffered from a persistent head tremor. None of the treatments she had tried could cure this distressing malady. After asking a few questions, Cheng inserted two needles into her scalp which he removed after they had eaten dinner. After three treatments the tremor stopped.
By the 1980s Cheng Xinnong¡¯s reputation had spread abroad. An Indian woman who was in charge of three hospitals came to see him as a last hope. She had suffered from crippling migraines for 17 years. To her disbelief and joy, the headaches ceased just one day after the first acupuncture session. After 19 more treatments, they were banished forever.
All three Chengs have worked "miracles" such as these throughout their careers. One was "worked" by Kai, the youngest of the Cheng acupuncture masters. He was at a party when one of his schoolmates, himself a doctorate in TCM, told Kai about the severe twitching of the muscles in his back. Conventional medical checkups revealed nothing wrong, and the various alternative therapies he had tried made no difference. The severity of this complaint often prevented him from sleeping. Kai suggested acupuncture on a few specific points. After his schoolmate had applied the needles, according to Kai's explicit instructions, the twitches in his back ceased for an entire week.
Cheng Kai points out that ancient Chinese and modern Western medicine have much in common. For instance, the Western practice of letting blood from a patient¡¯s earlobe to ease postoperative fever is also a feature of Chinese acupuncture. Cheng finds that many of the Western physicians he meets are open to TCM. The prevailing attitude he encounters is, ¡°Why say no to a treatment whose effect is so evident?¡±
In 1979 WHO endorsed the use of acupuncture for treatment of 43 symptoms, among them those of the respiratory tract, alimentary canal, nervous, muscular and skeletal systems and of the eye. At the 1996 WHO conference in Milan, Italy, endorsement of acupuncture extended to 64 indications. Acupuncture is today acknowledged around the world as an effective method of pain relief for headaches, sciatica and dysmenorrhea. Cheng Kai can testify to its healing and prevention of many more ailments. He gives the example, ¡°When I feel a cold coming on, I apply a needle, and it simply doesn't develop.¡±
As a naturalistic remedy, acupuncture is free of side effects and a safe alternative to standard medical procedures. Whereas Western medicine kills healthy as well as diseased cells, competently manipulated needles leave no toxins and do not harm the human body. WHO has consequently recommended that acupuncture be studied and used as a link within the modern medical science loop.