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The Model of the Nine Needles

The practice of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture has been recorded for the past 2000 years, although some authorities claim such practices have been taking place for nearly 6000 years. The earliest evidence of acupuncture is “stone needles” found dated back to 500 B.C. These stone needles are referred to as the character “Bian” in ancient record and were apparently used to drain abscesses. It is believed that the use of metal needles followed closely. Needles composed of bronze, gold, and silver have been excavated from burial sites dating back to 0 A.D. The traditional "nine needles" of acupuncture emerged soon after and consist of the following needles:

  • Arrowhead: for superficial piercing
  • Round: for massaging points
  • Blunt: for knocking or pressing points
  • Triple-edged: for venipuncture or blood-letting
  • Sword-like: to drain abscesses
  • Sharp: for rapid pricking
  • Filiform: model for today's needles
  • Long: for muscle insertion
  • Large: for joint insertion
  • In ancient times the needles that developed from the Bian Stones were made from gold, silver, bronze, copper or tin. In the 4th century AD the use of steel needles was introduced as steel allows for a thinner and stronger needle. Nowadays, the only needles still currently in use are derived from the filiform needle and triple-edged needle. Modern needles range from ½” to 6” in length with a thickness ranging from .20 to .35 mm in thickness. The most commonly used ones are 1” x .25mm for most application and are inserted from ¼” to 1” in depth.



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