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Acupuncture and the WHO

What are the functions of the WHO?

  The World Health Organization (WHO) acts as an authority for medical care and health within the United Nations system. The WHO was established on the 7th of April, 1948. Today it is seen as a leading entity in health affairs around the world.

  The WHO is also in charge of exercising key functions in medical research. The WHO creates standards and policies associated with health care and services. It has an important role in monitoring and evaluating emerging trends on health issues.

What is the role of the WHO in acupuncture?

  Acupuncture has been in the interest of the WHO for many decades. This organization has a series of meetings in the 80s, in which it has tried to put acupuncture on a firm scientific basis and create standards that would be accepted worldwide.

  The first meeting was in December of 1982 in Manila, when first Standardization of Acupuncture Nomenclature was established. This nomenclature defines meridians and acupuncture points, and recognizes 361 classical acupuncture points. Two years later (1984) in Tokyo, the WHO approved  31 new  points. The Hong Kong meeting (1985) adopted 17 new points, as well as the standard English nomenclature of technical terms. The standard nomenclature was finalized in 1987 in Seoul. As a result, today all acupuncture points and meridians are defined and have alphabetic code and a character name.

  Besides standardization, the WHO, with the National Institutes of Health, have worked on scientific research of this branch of medicine. Many studies have been conducted and  have revealed that certain biochemical changes happen during the procedure. Mostly, they are connected with peptides, short chain of amino acids, that have important role in hormones, especially endorphins. Their level increases with acupuncture, creating an analgesic effect in the central nervous system.

   Today, 28 diseases, conditions, and symptoms are recognized by the WHO in which acupuncture has been proven to be an effective treatment. Additionally, 63 other conditions and diseases could get relief from acupuncture because its therapeutic effect has been observed.

Image by Anders Nord

Acupuncture history

Acupuncture was first mentioned in China during the time of the yellow emperor Huang Di (黃帝) 2698–2598 BCE. He was the author of the oldest medical work in the world, Nei Jing. Chinese medicine and modern acupuncture is based on a copy of this oldest medical bible from the year 475.

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