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Acupuncture has mystified and baffled scientists, researchers, and the public for some time. How it works and how it was discovered are debated. Some speak of a warrior who was hit by an arrow in his foot only to find his migraine gone.

  • Researchers in China - October 1987, Professor Xiang at British Acupuncture Association's conference presented biophysical verification of the meridian system in mankind and animals. Using electrical devices which pick up the electrical resistance of the skin he found the acupuncture points coincided with the points of least electrical resistance.
  • In this same study, Professor Xiang designed a mechanical device that tapped the skin on a consistent basis without human intervention. This test found a sound difference between the points on and off the channels.
  • In a third experiment Dr. Xiang and his team attached small lightbulbs to the body. With all direct lighting turned off, an actual difference in the illuminations of the light bulbs occurred. The lightbulbs on the channels were brighter.
  • Professor Xiang concluded that one out of every 4000-5000 individuals is known as "hyper-sensitive". These "hyper-sensitive" people, even with out prior exposure to the acupuncture channels, are able to trace a sensation that travel sthe same paths found in ancient acupuncture charts.
  • Researcher Dr. Darss MD at the Neckar Hospital in Paris, France, found that when radioactive isotopes were injected into acupuncture points the isotopes were found to move through the body along the acupuncture channels. The movement pattern of the isotopes gave diagnostic information regarding the clients health. Primary finding was that with degenerative diseases, the isotopes moved slowly.
  • Dr. Richard Chen, MD a researcher from Canada, found that cortisol levels increase with acupuncture causing better performance in athletes.
  • Dr. Timothy McCarthy, MD, a researcher from Australia, has studied the effects of increased circulation with acupuncture through the use of thermography. Different degrees of temperature register as different colors on the thermal photograph. Improvements in body temperatures were noted after acupuncture.
  • The National Institutes of Health [NIH] have held two major conferences, 1997 and 2007, reporting on the various research studies on Acupuncture and their efficacy. These studies can be reviewed through the NIH archives. Due to the improvements in research protocols and procedures, the NIH has granted incremental millions of dollars to further research in Acupuncture.

Otzi The Ice Man-1st Acupuncturist?

  • Oetzi the Iceman (also spelled Otzi and known also as Frozen Fritz), was found by two hikers September 19, 1991 named Erika and Simon Helmut. He was frozen and mummified. Unsure whether or not Otzi was a recent murder victim or a missing hiker, the Helmuts did not mention the existence of Otzi to others on the trail whom they met that day. When the Helmuts returned to the Inn where they were staying, they contacted the proper authorities and went on their way. Due to the weather conditions it took some time before even the police were able to get to the location.
  • Otzi’s name combines the name of the valley near where he was found, Oetzal valley, and the word yeti, which stands for Abominable Snowman. A quite fitting association coming to mean the Abominable Snowman from Oetzal Valley.
  • With the discovery of Otzi , a whirlwind of inquiry, intrigue and study has gone into the who, what, where, why and how of this mysterious archeological find. Some clues to Otzi 's world, that have been reviewed, are the tattoos found on his body. So far, there are a few theories concerning his 57 tattoos. Tattoos have been created and utilized by various cultures throughout history. Tattoos and scarring have been used as signals for an initiation rite, identification, beautification, and as a means of recognition to an exclusive membership, and for medical reasons.
  • Dr. Leopold Dorfer, President of the Austria Society of Acupuncture was interviewed about Otzi 's tattoos. Dorfer noted most of the tattoos are on specific acupuncture meridian points. 9 of the 15 groups of tattoos were on the acupuncture urinary bladder meridian/channel. With several arrangements of 1-7 tattoo lines running parallel to the length of Otzi’s body. Some of the tattoos are located where he could not see them himself, so somebody else must have applied them. ...Climbing creates very great tension on the legs, so that he occasionally may have experienced pain in his lower legs. Dorfer implied that the tattoos are for actual medical treatment for pain relief.
  • One of the primary researchers of this project was Konrad Spindler, Chair of prehistory and early history at Innsbruck University where Otzi was first taken for in depth study. Konrad is an expert in anthropology, archeaeology and medicine. He noted, “We know of 57 tattoos on the body of the Iceman. And we know from primitive peoples that tattoos are not just used as adornment or insignia but also for therapy. People apply tattoos to painful spots, to soothe pain or to heal. And we have to assume this with the Iceman because the radiological studies, especially on these joints have shown there were low to medium arthritic changes.”
  • Otzi had multiple tattoos on his body in several locations. . . the left knee, ankle, and arm, both calves, and the lower back. His tattoos were made from simple groupings of lines or actual crosses. Otzi’s joints, where tattoos were located, showed signs of arthritis when the X-rays were compiled. The consensus is that the tattoos were for medical purposes. Sjovold had quickly realized that the placement of the tattoos very often occurred at points that were particularly prone to aches: the joints, the back, the legs, and the feet.... given that the tattoos would not have been visible under the clothes the Iceman wore, at least not in cold weather, both Sjovol and the Dutch researchers agreed that they were probably not decorative.
  • A Viennese anthropologist, Johann Szilvassy, noted he had proof that Otzi was of the European race. This information stops the notion that Otzi could have been from Asia and just traveling the area. Observing the time tables, 3300-3140 BC is the approximated life of the Iceman. Otzi was completely mummified, possibly by the weather conditions, then enveloped by an ice glacier.
  • In history, the invention of writing is thought to have occurred in Mesopotamia around the years of 3300 B. C. There is a big gap of 3000 years between 500-300 BC when the Canon of Medicine was written, the first known book to mention utilizing acupuncture as a means of treatment for medical conditions, and 3300 BC when writing began. And all the conquering and invasions that have taken place during history, leaves one to exalt that book burning and the annihilation of a tribe, their culture, and their means of written communication is very conceivable and specifically probable during the earlier years of homosapiens.
  • Considering all of the evidence, what does this research say about the myth of origin of acupuncture? Where did Acupuncture really start? Otzi , once all was said and done, was noted to be approximately 300 feet inside the present Italian border. Was it simultaneously discovered through out the world by hypersensitives’ or does the myth of origin for acupuncture really start in Italy with the man from the Ice?
  • Within the studies of Acupuncture of this last century there began a split. There were those practitioners calling themselves Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM] practitioners, while others titled themselves Traditional Oriental Medicine [TOM] practitioners. Does this mean that we only consider the myth of origin for the title of our medicine?
  • With the discovery of Otzi’s tattoos, there may come another split, or perchance a blending back together to one common title for this form of medicine. What does Otzi’s discovery mean to practitioners of Acupuncture? I’m curious as to what this discovery will do to Acupuncturists basic beliefs as to the origins of Oriental medicine? Dare we call it Oriental medicine? Or should we change it to traditional medicine? Do we consider historical tradition in this new title when we use modern devices, such as electricity or laser? Traditional or historical medicine is out if we include these therapies.

At any rate, the title to be utilized is up for discussion.....or at least pondering.

Suggested Internet Sites, Books, Articles:

  • Otzi on Wikipedia
  • Acupuncture Today article regarding Otzi and Acupuncture
  • Archaeologie Museum - Otzi’s resting place
  • And a little News of the Weird Brad Pitt’s tattoo...is Otzi
  • Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture,1st edition, 1980, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China.
  • Secrets of the Ice Man by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Benchmark Books, NY, 1999.
  • Iceman, uncovering the Life and Times of a prehistoric man found in an Alpine Glacier, by Brenda Fowler, Random House, NY, 2000.
  • Austin American Statesman, July 26, 2001, page A6. Ice Mummies, Part Two; Life in the Ice - Producers notes; retrieved from the internet.
  • Discovery Channel Documentary: The Ice Man, March 2001, local cable, Austin, Texas