Bamboo in Acupuncture

bamboo stripsBack in December, some bamboo strips got a mention in a post on this site. The post touched on medical texts written on bamboo slips that were unearthed during the construction of a subway in Chengdu, China. More details have since emerged.

It turns out that the 2,000 year old bamboo strips are mainly texts about diagnosing disease by taking the patient’s pulse. This practice, commonly known as the 29 Pulses, is still used today. My local acupuncture practitioners certainly use it (and to good effect). Amazon has an extensive range of books on the subject, if you’d like to learn more.

Pulse diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine can provide very detailed information on the state of the internal organs and, indeed, every part of the body. Taking the pulses is one method that an acupuncturist, who is trained in the practice, may use to determine which points to treat with their acupuncture needles.

Some of the very early acupuncture needles are thought to have been made of bamboo too: a far cry from what we see, and hardly feel, today. Modern, stainless steel, acupuncture needles are very thin, ranging from 0.16 mm to 0.38 mm in thickness. The tip of a modern acupuncture needle is conical in shape, which allows it to penetrate the tissues, separating the fibres of the muscle as it enters, without causing damage. A bamboo needle might induce a less subtle sensation. (Just the thought makes me wince).

bamboo stripsAs an aside, the fascination with bamboo strips extends beyond academia. You can find bamboo strips for The Sims 3, also mentioned in a previous post. Noiranddarksims is offering a Bamboo Slip Conversion as the latest in Decorative Objects. I must confess though, I don’t get it. Can someone please explain?

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