Pre 1949 Acupuncture
by Andrew Mcpherson

"Describing the difference between pre-1949 and post-1949 acupuncture... is a bit like describing rain to someone who has never seen it."

This slim but enlightening guidebook explores pre-1949 acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the radical changes in the topics promoted by the People’s Republic of China since then. The author is a well-qualified doctor of Chinese medicine for thirty years and is the president of the Australian National Acupuncturists and Chinese Herbalist Association. Traditional Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine contain an ancient philosophy that conflicts with modern viewpoints and so was changed or disregarded, perhaps “to provide modern-day students with a more simple, ‘user-friendly’ system.” The author proposes that this is “nothing short of incredible, if not, in many ways, downright disastrous” and supports his viewpoint with concrete arguments and evidence.

The short and easily read chapters are logically and systematically introduced, beginning with the origins and history of acupuncture and the theories behind the practice. Mcpherson’s job of comparing and contrasting pre-1949 and post-1949 acupuncture is thorough, covering the next eight chapters, including some case studies. While the academically refined text is likely aimed at acupuncturists interested in the historical foundation of their practice, the text is also accessible to the general reader who may have experienced acupuncture and is curious about the differences between modern and traditional acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The author cites a lack of adequate source materials plus shoddy translation as the reason that knowledge of pre-1949 acupuncture and TCM has remained hidden. A historical point of reference is that doctors who originally wrote about traditional acupuncture and TCM were more lateral thinkers as opposed to more modern Western analytical thinking. While one could suggest that this subject could be covered in more depth and detail, this guidebook comes across as complete for its purpose. Mcpherson has written an intriguing book about a subject that most readers likely know very little about.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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