The history of acupuncture originates in China, and dates back to the Neolithic Era (c. 2,500 BC) when stone needles were used in place of today's finely manufactured ones. Chinese medicine, which incorporates acupuncture into its many treatments, is therefore considered to be the oldest and most widely used system of medicine in our history.
The Nei Jing, also called The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine is the oldest medical book in China, having been written by numerous medical authors around 475 to 221 BC.
The Nei Jing is divided into two parts. The first part, Su Wen (Essential Questions), is based on theory, while the second part Ling Shu (Spiritual Pivot) deals with practical application.
Although thousands of years old, the book remains the foundation for the theory and philosophy on which Chinese medicine was founded. In this ancient text, nine different types of needles are mentioned as being used for acupuncture treatments, each one with a different tip and a precise length and width. These were used for a variety of conditions across history, from rheumatic diseases to pediatrics.
Acupuncture rapidly developed in China between 250 and 600 AD with additional books and charts being written to describe the channels and points for the treatment of an even greater number of conditions. Through the centuries, following the publication of these works, and with many of the traditions being passed from one generation to the next, acupuncture practice progressed.
In the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) medical academies were established, and in about 1026 the Classic of the Bronze Man was created to illustrate the precise courses of the meridians, and the locations of the points. These two life sized bronze figures were used for teaching and smaller replicas (in other materials) are still used today for training acupuncturists.