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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

acupuncture The (probably mythical) Chinese ruler known as the Yellow Emperor (Huang-ti, circa 2704 B.C.-?) is said to have brought the bow and arrow, writing, the water well, shoes, and the calendar to his subjects. It is said that he also wrote a medical manuscript, Nei Jing, that is still used by modern healers.
      Repeating material that was considerably older, the book postulated a theoretical fluid/gas/plasma labeled qi (pronounced chee). The study of this substance or influence is known as qi gong (pronounced chee gung). The qi is believed to circulate through the body by means of pathways called meridians. There are twelve or fourteen major meridians. (Since dissection of the body was forbidden in the old Chinese culture, it was probably the veins and arteries that they occasionally saw following catastrophic accidents, which they mistook for these conduits for the qi.)
      A great number of “acupuncture points” are specified on the body, and very fine needles, traditionally of gold or silver, inserted into these points on a properly oriented (north-south) patient and twiddled about rapidly between the fingers, are said to bring about analgesic, anesthetic, or curative effects.
      One form of acupuncture uses only the ear, which is regarded as a homunculus. Needles are inserted into various specific parts of the ear that represent parts of the entire body. Dr. Lester Sacks of California has developed a staple-in-the-ear treatment that he claims will help patients lose weight, stop addictions, and serve in various other helpful ways. Many very fat addicts swear that this system works.
      A form of the art in which finger pressure is substituted for the needles is known as acupressure, also called, “shiatsu.” This form is understandably more popular than the needle version.

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