Modified and translated by CFJA
In the 21st century, many different countries began practicing acumoxa therapy (acupuncture and moxibustion therapy). Most would agree that acumoxa therapy is considered a new alternative to western medicine, but on the other hand, it has thousands of years of history. In Japan, since acumoxa therapy was brought from the direction of China and Korea to Japan in 410 CE, it is thought that ‘the origin of the Traditional Eastern Asian Medicine is China.’ Currently, in September 2019, Gojyuni byoho『五十二病方』(“52 Disease methods”) is the oldest text on acumoxa therapy in China. Evidence such as Ishibari 石針 (stone needle) and henseki 砭石 (wedging stone) supports acupuncture therapy and noshiho 熨法 (heat compression method) supports moxibustion therapy.
However, on September 19, 1991, an approximately 5300-year-old male mummy was found in Bolzano, Italy around Volturno. An Australian doctor, Leopold Dorfer, compared fifteen tattoo marks found on the body and the location of acumoxa points. He reported that the location of tattoo marks matched with the acumoxa points. Dr. Dorfer determined that out of the fifteen tattoo marks, nine were within less than 6mm, three between 6mm to 13mm, although two were not on the acumoxa points (acupuncture and moxibustion points), one was found on the meridian, located in between GB40 and ST41. Specifically, the location of the three tattoo marks around the left hip was on BL21, BL22 and BL23. One posterior to left lateral malleolus was BL60, one medial to right knee was LR8, one posterior and inferior to right thigh was GB38. Some researchers hypothesize that the location of tattoo marks is reflecting the location of symptoms or joint pain such as sciatica, a problem in lumbar vertebrae.
Dr. Dorfer and his research members hypothesize that acumoxa-like therapy already existed at least 2000 years ago in Eurasia, even before acumoxa points and meridians were recognized in China or East Asia. In recent years, the origin of acupuncture theory has been investigated from various angles. Looking at it from the current state of medical affairs, it seems reasonable to argue that acupuncture therapy – or acupuncture-like therapy – has been practiced all around the world before or while it was practiced in China. However, at this moment, we can all agree that it is China that recognized acumoxa points, as well as extraordinary points, as points of treatment to cure diseases, and it is China that first systematized and textualized acumoxa therapy.
In 414 CE, during the Kofun period (300 – 592 CE), when Emperor Nintoku was suffering from an illness, Kinbu, one of the most famous doctors in Silla (one of the three kingdoms of Korea), was invited to Japan and gave an acupuncture therapy. This is the historical evidence that shows how acupuncture therapy was first introduced to Japan. For a while, Japan was having an exchange with the Kingdom of Baekje, and in 562 CE, Chiso, from the Kingdom of Wu (in China), visits Japan for the first time. Later, he decides to become naturalized as a Japanese citizen and offers 164 volumes of books such as Yakusho-meidoen『藥書明堂圖』to Japan. Since then, for more than 1400 years, Japan has had a very long history of working with Chinese Medicine and numerous brilliant researchers have left the documents of their study – unique Japanese treatment methods were invented and passed on to the next generations. With regards to acumoxa and herbal therapy, Japan has their very own theoretical treatment system that China does not have and developed much safer and advanced methods of their own. The medical book called Ishinpo『醫心方』edited by Tanba Yasuyori is Japan’s national treasure. This is the first text that distinctly shows japanization.