The origins of Chinese medicine and acupuncture date back to the Yellow emperor Huang Ti between 2696 and 2598 BC. However the first exposure of westerners to acupuncture didn't occur until the 16th century.1 Western physicians were not the first to experience acupuncture, but it was actually Jesuit missionaries who had entered China. The first Western physician to write about acupuncture was Dr. Willen Ten Rhijne after he was exposed to the technique while working for the Dutch East Indies Company in Nagasaki Japan. He described both acupuncture and moxibustion in his paper "A Dissertation on Arthritis," written in 1683.2 Dr. Englebert Kaempfer succeeded Dr. Rhijne in Japan. It would be Dr. Kaempfer and not Rhijne who would be a great influence on the introduction of acupuncture to the West. His detailed and sympathetic accounts originally published in Latin in 1712 were well received in Europe and underwent translations into German, Dutch, English, and French. Another physician who championed acupuncture's potential as a medical technique was famous German surgeon Lorenz R. Heister in his text Chirurgie, 1758, which was translated into 6 languages.3
The main gateway in which acupuncture made its way to the West was through France because by the end of the 19th century, many of France's most prominent physicians were using acupuncture. The knowledge of acupuncture spread throughout Europe and the Americas because Paris was considered one of the great centers of western medicine attracting students from throughout the western world. The French military adventures into Indochina in the mid to late 1800s furthered their interest in acupuncture.
George Soulie DeMorant provided one of the most significant influences on European acupuncture in the 20th century. His text L'Acupuncture Chinoise published in 3 volumes in 1939, 1941, and 1955, expounded on the techniques, made accessible the theory of the classic texts and presented acupuncture as a comprehensive medical system. Today as a legacy to DeMorant, acupuncture is officially recognized by the Academia De Medicine as part of the formal practice of medicine in France.4 The students of Soulie de Morant, including Jean Niboyet ( 1913-1968, founder of the Mediterranean Acupuncture Association), Albert Chamfrault (1912-1971; a French Association of Acupuncture), and Roger de la Fuÿe (1905-1961) pushed forward the field of acupuncture with translations, associations, conferences, and developing clinical practices. 5 In the 20th century France and throughout much of Europe since the 1950’s, clinical acupuncture has codeveloped with biomedical science. Europe has thus served as another influence for acupuncture approaches that integrate into the practice of conventional Western medicine.6
Education in Europe
Education, certification, and recognition of acupuncture vary throughout Europe. By law in 12 EU Member States, ie Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain acupuncture is recognized as a distinct therapeutic system. A medical degree is required to practice acupuncture in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia and Spain. In Belgium and Portugal the law does not explicitly exclude non-medical practitioners, but has not yet been implemented. In Denmark it is allowed for everyone, both individuals with and without a medical authorization, to perform acupuncture for therapeutic purposes.
The national medical associations have introduced statutory regulations in some countries where the government delegates the tasks of authorization, registration and supervision of medical doctors. In Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland the medical association/council/chamber has recognized acupuncture as an additional medical qualification. In Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy,