Acupuncture in New York: Brief History of Acupuncture


Acupuncture’s history has been long and at times controversial. Sharpened stones that might have been acupuncture needles or may have other purposes, such as draining abscesses or drawing blood, were dated about 6,000 BCE. A well-preserved human body, so called Ice Man, who died in approximately 3,300 BCE, was found in an Alpine glacier and covered with tattoo marks indicating acupuncture points, suggesting an acupuncture system that was developed outside of China. The oldest text that described a well-organized acupuncture system was The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which was written in about 100 BCE. The way this text is written, however, suggests that the methods described in it were passed down from one generation to the next for many years. Curiously, acupuncture had been practiced in China much less between the 17th century and the middle of the 20th century (White & Ernst, 2004).

Acupuncture in New York: Beginning and Development

At about the same time when China lost some of its interest in acupuncture, Europe suddenly developed it in 16th century, and it began in France. Independently, from about 6th century Japan and Korea adopted acupuncture and began developing their own versions of it. While articles about acupuncture were published for the last 300-400 years in Europe and the United States, acupuncture had not become widely spread until 1971, when then American president Richard Nixon traveled to China and saw how acupuncture was used. He described what he saw in an article that was published in the New York Times. Increasingly more research studies have been conducted since 1950s, but acupuncture took strong hold in New York in 1970s, when New York City’s Lincoln Hospital started its own acupuncture drug withdrawal program. Their program showed success, and more than 250 similar programs opened up worldwide following the Lincoln Hospital’s treatment protocol (Brumbaugh, 1993).

Acupuncture in New York: Modern Times

As scientists accumulated a great deal of research, acupuncture has proven itself to be a valuable addition to modern medicine as well as an effective stand-alone method. In fact, many studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can be even more effective for certain conditions, such as “Alzheimer’s disease, as well as for cardiac and poststroke therapy” (Lu & Lu, 2013). As an alternative treatment, acupuncture has been popular “to relieve stress-related syndromes, to enhance the immune system, to reduce insomnia, to improve athletic performance” (Lu & Lu, 2013). During the last two decades, “systematic reviews have provided more reliable evidence of acupuncture’s value in treating nausea (from various causes), dental pain, back pain and headache” (White & Ernst, 2004). In recent years, research has demonstrated that acupuncture can be effective in various therapeutic scenarios, and New York acupuncture practitioners play close attention to latest findings.


  1. Brumbaugh, A. G. (1993). Acupuncture: New perspective in chemical dependency treatment. Journal of substance abuse treatment10(1), 35-43.
  2. Lu, D. P., & Lu, G. P. (2013). An historical review and perspective on the impact of acupuncture on US medicine and society. Medical acupuncture25(5), 311-316.
  3. White, A., & Ernst, E. (2004). A brief history of acupuncture. Rheumatology43(5), 662-663.