Origin and History of Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Since primitive times, humans have spent tens of thousands of years learning and then improving on a variety of ways to heal themselves from both foreign enemies and the pain of sickness.
For example, acupuncture using stone needles, as well as moxibustion, in which "moxa" is used to start fires, have both been handed down to become healing methods that are still used today.
Moxibustion and acupuncture were established using Oriental medicine as a basis during the Yin and Zhou Dynasties of China (1500 BC to 700 BC). The Yellow Emperor and his retainers recorded many of their dialogues in an original medical text, called The Inner Canon of Huangdi. This is the world's oldest medical text, composed of sections such as the Basic Questions and the Spiritual Pivot (from approximately 1200 BC), and it records the effects of many drugs and medicines.
Within the text of the Spiritual Pivot are recorded the details of moxibustion and acupuncture. Originating in the Yellow River Basin, in the northern district where the earth is infertile (growing only vines and mugwort), stone needles for draining and putting pressure on boils and also mugwort for health food and moxibustion were all that was available for use. It is said that by using moxa and stone needles, they were able to make use of the natural healing abilities of human beings.
Methods such as these had the advantage of simplicity, as well as being the methods best suited to humans.
If this medical text really is the origin of acupuncture and moxibustion, then these healing methods have a history of more than 3,000 years. In addition, the gradual addition of acupuncture and moxibustion to mainstream Western medicine is proof of the effectiveness of these healing methods.
History of Acupuncture and Moxibustion in JAPAN
The acupuncture that was introduced to Japan was based on the influence of the Yellow Emperor's classic Confucian writings, which were closely related to Buddhism.
It is said the first books to be imported were things such as pharmaceutical books, traditional medicine charts, and acupuncture books from the Wu region of China, during the Asuka era when Emperor Kinmei reigned, around A.D. 552.
Following this, during the era of the Nara Dynasty (A.D. 700), Emperor Monmu's Taihou Code is established, and Japan's first medical certification system for healthcare (such as general health practitioners and acupuncture specialists departments) was enacted. Acupuncture and moxibustion became the nations established medical treatment.
In addition, Ishinho, the oldest medical book in Japan, was written in A.D. 984 by Yasuyori Tanba two years into the Eikan era during the Heian period, as a basis for today's acupuncture.
This medical book explains that the three exciting causes of a disease are "heat and cold", "wind and humidity" and "food and drink". By means of the passing and blocking of the two energies called Eiei (which is responsible for our well-being), the truth and falsehood of every internal organs can be explained.
After that, moving into the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, it was a period where the religious cultural exchange with China became popular thus giving birth to many acupuncturist monks who were adept at both Western medicine and traditional Buddhist medicine.
Even today, the flow is continued through moxibustion temples scattered throughout Japan.
Religious medicine was reformed from the Azuchi-Momoyama period with the Japanization of Li Zhu medicine in the Edo period by founder Manase Dousan (Volume eight of Medicine, Jinju Zhu Qi Li), who demonstrated the proper three methods of acupuncture for the Emperor and Shogunate.
Again, the influence of acupuncture medicine flourished during this period, from the Empou era (1673) of the Tokugawa period up to 3 years into the Genroku era (1690), doctors from Holland and Germany visited Japan
In addition to describing each book on the moxibustion therapy, they were told of the moxibustion material Moxa and Japanese names, and Moxa was introduced throughout Europe.
But when the Meiji era came around, because of reformation and revolution, everything was westernized, including medicine treatments. Even for doctors who were adept at acupuncture, their efforts were not enough and therefore, during the congress in the Meiji era on February 28th, the bill to revise the law concerning the medical practitioners license did not get enough votes and was rejected. Finally, it was decided that acupuncture healing would be placed under folk remedies.
This possesses great significance in things such as today's medical expense assistance system.
However, from the late Meiji era through the Showa era medical pioneer's experimental therapy studies were approved, and qualifications such as the licensing of acupuncture were enacted. Until the end of war, from the supremacy of the experience of the past principle, scientific principle and the understanding of scientific research progressed greatly.
For a period of time after the war under the occupation of the United States, things like acupuncture treatments were forbidden, though obvious pathogenic diseases could be cured immediately with new medicine, but patients with chronic endogenous illnesses were not getting better and there was also the fear of side effects. As a result, there were changes in awareness of the need for oriental medicine, especially acupuncture, for the improvement and health preservation of the modern people. Scientific cases of it were also scholarly published in succession. Nowadays, the stage is set to reevaluate acupuncture and moxibustion.
Thus by looking back at the history of acupuncture, during those periods and their ways of thinking, as a form of medicinal treatment, even though there were ups and downs, acupuncture which took thousands of years of experience and a concentration of human intellect to developed is still needed by modern people. From now on, even acupuncture methods and ingredients might change more or less, but as long as humans live, it is believed that it will always remain as the most simple and logical healing treatment.
History of IBUKI MOXA
We will start with a discussion of materials. Moxibustion's chief ingredient is moxa, which is made from Japanese mugwort.
Japanese mugwort is a perennial related to the chrysanthemum family which grows wild in the hills and fields. Compared to other plants, it is high in nutrients. Japanese mugwort is known for its effectiveness as an antipyretic, an insecticide, a diuretic, and as a hemostatic agent.
Moxa means "burning plant," and since ancient times has been used as a fire-starting agent by rubbing it on wood. These fires are easy to start and difficult to put out, making it ideal for moxibustion.
The light gray hairs on the underside of mugwort are extremely important to making high quality moxa. In our country, the mugwort which is found in the mountainous districts such as Goushuu's Mount Ibiki, Ecchuu, and Echigo, has more soft hairs on its underside. Because of this, on top of its higher quality, it also has a better yield rate after manufacturing. Shiga Prefecture's Mount Ibiki has a history of more than 400 years, dating back to the heyday of Eastern medicine, Tenshou 4 (1576), when Oda Nobunaga ordered the Portuguese to transplant mugwort and other medicinal plants to the foot of Mount Ibiki in a 50 hectare radius.
During the heyday of Eastern medicine, there were factories for the manufacture of moxa in what are now the prefectures of Shiga, Fukui, Toyama, and Niigata. The moxa of Shiga Prefecture, then Goushuu, is particularly famous, to the point where it is said that "For moxa, Ibiki is the best." This is thanks to the efforts and cleverness of Goushuu craftsmen. (There are stories that these craftsmen were so diligent that their efforts were sung of by Edo courtesans.) However, after that, due to issues relating to manpower and wages, the factories were been moved by traders to the Hokuriku region, where they then put forth all efforts into business and advertising, as we would say today. After that, with the transition to Western medicine, the factories began to close one by one, until now only Niigata and Toyama remain.
Today, "Ibiki moxa" is one "brand name," a byword for high-grade moxa.
*We use mugwort in Niigata and making almost parts at Factory in Niigata.


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