Bronze figure showing acupuncture points, Chinese, early 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Acupuncture is a medical technique which has been practised in China for over 3000 years. It consists of the insertion into the skin of fine needles, at the points relating to the tisue or organ believed to be disordered. The lines made by a row of points identify a meridian, a channel through which the vital 'chi' energy flows around the body. The acupuncture points are sited on 12 main meridians; six extend into each limb, with each meridian and acupuncture point asociated with a certain organ. The needles let 'chi' enter or leave the body, or divert or unblock its path, so restoring harmonious energy flow and good health.