Archive for the ‘Schools in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine USA’ Category

A true history of acupuncture

By David Ramey, Paul D Buell
Focus Altern Complement Ther 2004; 9: 269–73
Acupuncture in China
The chronology of acupuncture is fairly well established, albeit along a somewhat uneven timeline. Claims that acupuncture is many thousands of years old are suspect; neither archaeological nor historical evidence suggests acupuncture was practised in China prior to the mid-2nd century BC at the earliest, and those claims are subject for debate. Indeed, exactly when acupuncture can be said to have begun in China depends on two things: (i) the willingness to accept early dating of historical texts and (ii) the definition of ‘needling.’ If the use of any kind of penetrating instrument (‘needling’) is considered acupuncture, then acupuncture began early in China but also in contemporaneous cultures, who also used bleeding and cautery at points on the human body.
The earliest archaeological findings, from the 1970s, are four gold and five silver needles, discovered in the tomb of Han Dynasty Prince Liu Sheng (?–113 BC) in Hebei Province. Since these artefacts were found in association with other therapeutic instruments, they may have been employed in therapeutic ‘needling’ of some sort.1 However, the exact nature of this ‘needling’ is unclear and it may not have been used for purposes that we think of today as acupuncture (for example, according to the Chinese classic medical text Huang Di Neijing, ‘needles’ were also used to remove ‘water’ from joints or to lance abscesses).
The earliest Chinese medical texts known today were discovered at the Mawangdui graves, sealed in 168 BC and the Zhangjiashan burial site, closed between 186 and 156 BC.2 These documents provide the first descriptions ofmai, imaginary ‘channels’ that were associated with diagnosis and treatment. However, in these texts, therapeutic interventions, or needling, are never mentioned. The earliest literary reference to any kind of therapeutic ‘needling’ (zhen) is found in a historical, rather than a medical, text, the Shiji, (Records of the Historian), of Sima Qian, written c. 90 BC. The Shiji mentions one instance of ‘needling’ in the texts but that needling was not associated with a system of insertion points or with the fundamental system of conduits (described in later centuries) whose qiflow might be influenced by such needling. Indeed, the story of resuscitating a dead prince with a needle placed in the back of his head may, in fact, merely reflect lancing of a boil or abscess.
The classic text Huang Di Neijing introduced the practice and theoretical underpinnings of what clearly became human acupuncture in the historical sense (i.e. the manipulation of qi flowing in vessels or conduits by means of needling). The book, which now comprises three distinct redactions, is made up from textual pieces by various authors writing in various times. Although it is not clear when individual pieces were written or included in the larger textual tradition,3 the main content of the book dates from later centuries and the earliest recoverable versions date to between the 5th and 8th centuries AD4 (although Han Dynasty origins are claimed for the Huang Di Neijing, they are based on dubious bibliographical references that may or may not have anything to do with existing versions of the texts). Most of the texts available today went through final revision as late as the 11th century AD and such revisions may not reflect earlier work.
The Huang Di Neijing introduced the idea that the body contained functional centres (‘depots’ and ‘palaces’) connected by a series of primary and secondary conduits that allowed for influences (qi) to pass within the body and to enter from without. Older parts of the book are influenced by instructions to treat illness by bloodletting. (It has been theorised that bloodletting eventually developed into acupuncture and the focus shifted from removing visible blood to regulating invisible qi.) Interestingly, the text largely ignores specific skin points at which needles can be inserted. In fact, needling is a minor tradition in the book and much of the therapy described in the text is minor surgery, bloodletting and massage. (This description is incorrect. Both the Suwen (Plain Questions) andLingshu (Spiritual Pivot) mainly discuss acupuncture practice. Noted by Bai Xinghua)
Subsequently, perhaps in Song times, (AD 960–1279), acupuncture, or at least a prototype thereof, became increasingly systematised, as typified by the work of Wang Weiyi in connection with his acupuncture bronze man.5Later still, theories of systematic correspondence were integrated with acupuncture. The final step, taking place no earlier than late Qing times (AD 1644–1911) was the development of fine steel needles. Still, throughout Chinese history, acupuncture was a minor tradition, and only in the last few decades has it become a dominant tradition, even to the near exclusion of Chinese herbal medicine which was, historically, much more important.
Doubts about the efficacy of needling therapy appear early. Repeated quotes that, if one does not believe in needling, one should not use it, appear in Han dynasty writings.6 Subsequently, for unknown reasons, needling lost much of its appeal by the middle of the second millennium. By at least 1757, the ‘loss of acupuncture tradition’ was lamented and it was noted that the acupuncture points, channels and practices in use at the time were very different from those described in the ancient texts.7 Eventually the Chinese and other Eastern societies took steps to try to eliminate the practice altogether. In an effort to modernise medicine, the Chinese government attempted to ban acupuncture for the first of several times in 1822, when the Qing government forbade the teaching of acupuncture and moxacautery in the taiyiyuan. The Japanese officially prohibited the practice in 1876.8 By the 1911 revolution, acupuncture was no longer a subject for examination in the Chinese Imperial Medical Academy.9
During the Great Leap Forward of the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, Chairman Mao Zedong promoted acupuncture and traditional medical techniques as pragmatic solutions to providing health care to a vast population that was terribly undersupplied with doctors10 and as a superior alternative to decadent ‘imperialist’ practices (even though Mao apparently eschewed such therapies for his own personal health11). Here they lay until rediscovered in the most recent wave of interest in Chinese medical practices, dating from US President Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to the People’s Republic of China, which ended nearly a quarter century of China’s isolation from the USA.
Acupuncture in the West
Chinese medicine was first mentioned in Western literature as early as the 13th century AD in the travelogue of William of Rubruck,12 but the Western world became aware of needling a few centuries later. By the late 16th century, a few stray manuals, now held by the Escorial in Madrid, Spain, had reached Europe. Accounts of actual practice soon followed, some quite detailed. It reached the USA somewhat later. It has since been rejected, forgotten and rediscovered again in at least four major waves, including the current one. For a time, acupuncture became fairly well established in parts of Europe, particularly in France and Germany (concurrent with Chinese attempts to ban the practice). Several prominent French physicians advocated acupuncture in the 18th and 19th centuries, but other equally prominent doctors were not impressed, accusing proponents of resurrecting an absurd doctrine from well-deserved oblivion.13 Nineteenth century England also saw a brief period of popularity for acupuncture; an 1821 journal noted that acupuncture consisted of ‘inserting a needle into the muscular parts of the body, to the depth, sometimes, of an inch.’14 However, by 1829 the editor of the Medico-Chirurgical Reviewwas able to write: ‘A little while ago the town rang with “acupuncture”, everybody talked of it, everyone was curing incurable diseases with it; but now not a syllable is said upon the subject.’15 Georges Souli de Morant, a French diplomat resident in China who became fascinated by acupuncture as a cure for cholera and subsequently published his influential book L’Acupuncture Chinoise in 1939, kindled the first of the 20th century waves of interest in acupuncture. Souli de Morant was important in creating the myth of acupuncture, for example inventing the term ‘meridian,’ now widely used in Western acupuncture literature to designate channels along which qimoves, although there is, unfortunately, no direct equivalent in Chinese literature.
In the USA, acupuncture enjoyed a brief period of popularity during the first half of the 19th century, particularly among physicians in the Philadelphia area.16 In 1826, three local physicians conducted experiments with acupuncture as a possible means of resuscitating drowned people, based on claims by European experimenters that they had successfully revived drowned kittens by inserting acupuncture needles into their hearts. Those same physicians were unable to duplicate their successes and subsequently ‘gave up in disgust.’17 The 1829 edition of Tavernier’s Elements of Operative Surgery includes three pages on how and when one might perform not only acupuncture but also ‘electro-acupuncturation.’18 Publications extolling the practice appeared on occasion for the next 20 years.
Although none of the early American accounts of acupuncture make any mention of acupuncture points, channels or meridians, they all claim substantial success as a result of inserting needles directly into, or in the immediate vicinity of, painful or otherwise afflicted areas. However, by the second half of the 19th century, Western practitioners had largely abandoned acupuncture. In 1859 it was concluded that ‘its advantages have been much overrated, and the practice … has fallen into disrepute.’19 The Index Catalogue of the Surgeon-General’s library includes barely half-a-dozen titles on the subject for the entire half-century of 1850–1900. The 1913 edition of Webster’s unabridged dictionary describes acupuncture only as, ‘The insertion of needles into the living tissues for remedial purposes,’ and acupressure, another modern transmogrification, as ‘a mode of arresting haemorrhage resulting from wounds or surgical operations, by passing under the divided vessel a needle, the ends of which are left exposed externally on the cutaneous surface.’
Twentieth century scholars have imagined a trial and error system of development whereby knowledge was collectively accumulated into a medical ‘system.’ One view has been that, over time, crude stone lancets were replaced with fine metal needles, and acupuncture points and channels were codified, leading to a new age of medical sophistication. However, there is now considerable doubt about the existence of a trial and error system,20as well as the assumption that ‘needling,’ as described in historical Chinese medical texts, is today’s acupuncture. Indeed, despite antecedent ideas and practices, modern acupuncture, which includes novel variants such as electroacupuncture, may never have existed in traditional China in anything like the form in which it is practised today.
  1. Yamada K. The Origins of Acupuncture, Moxibustion, and Decoction. Kyoto, Japan: International Research Center for Japanese Studies, 1998.
  2. Harper D. Early Chinese Medical Literature: the Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts. London, UK: Kegan Paul International, 1997.
  3. Keegan DJ. The Huang-Ti Nei-Ching: the Structure of the Compilation, the Significance of the Compilation, Dissertation, UMI Dissertation Service Order8916728, 1988;
  4. Akahori A. The interpretation of classical Chinese medical texts in contemporary Japan: achievements, approaches, and problems. In: Unschuld P (Ed). Approaches to Traditional Chinese Medical Literature.Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989. 19–27.
  5. http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/shen-nong/history/five/five.htm (accessed 30 August, 2004)
  6. Lu G, Needham J. Celestial Lancets: a History and Rationale of Acupuncture and Moxa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
  7. Unschuld P. Forgotten Traditions of Ancient Chinese Medicine. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications, 1998.
  8. Skrbanek P. Acupuncture: past, present and future. In: Stalker D, Glymour C (Eds). Examining Holistic Medicine. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985. 182–6.
  9. Prioreschi P. A History of Medicine. Omaha, NE: Horatius Press, 1: 1995.
  10. Huard P, Wong M. Chinese Medicine. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1968.
  11. Li Z. The Private Life of Chairman Mao: the Inside Story of the Man Who Made Modern China. London: Chatto & Windus, 1994.
  12. Jackson P, Morgan D (Eds). The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck. London: Hakluyt Society, second series,173: 1990.
  13. Lacassagne J. Le docteur Louis Berlioz – introducteur de l’acupuncture en France. Presse Med 1954; 62: 1359–60.
  14. Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary. Acupuncturation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987.
  15. Anon . Acupuncturation. Medico-Chirugical Rev (London) 1829; 11: 166–7.
  16. Cassedy J. Early uses of acupuncture in the United States, with an addendum (1826) by Franklin Bache, MD. Bull N Y Acad Med 1974; 50: 892–906.
  17. Coxe E. Observations on asphyxia from drowning. N Am Med Surg J 1826; 292–3.
  18. Tavernier A. Elements of Operative Surgery, Gross S (translator and Ed.). Philadelphia: Grigg, Crissy, Towar & Hogan, Auner, 1829.
  19. Gross S. A System of Surgery. Philadelphia: Blanchard & Lea, 1: 1859.
  20. Lo V. The territory between life and death. Med History 2003; 47: 250–8.

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A History of Chinese Americans in California:
THE 1850s


Technology Brought From China

The presence of the ailanthus tree (the so-called “Tree of Heaven”) throughout California has long been a puzzle. The tree is native to China, but not to the United States; yet it grows profusely in those regions where early Chinese immigrants lived. All sorts of fanciful explanations are given — that the Chinese accidently brought the seeds to this country in the cuffs of their trousers (their trousers did not have cuffs), or that the Chinese brought the seeds to this country because they were homesick. The real reason Chinese immigrants brought ailanthus seeds to this country is that the trees are thought to contain an herbal remedy beneficial for arthritis. [32] The Chinese “wedding plant” was also brought to this country as an herbal remedy, but is less easily recognized.

Herbal medicine fulfilled an important health need in the nineteenth century for both Chinese and non-Chinese alike. Western medicine had not yet developed wonder drugs, anaesthetics, vaccinations, or sophisticated surgical techniques. Patent medicines were widely used, and their contents were not regulated by any agency of the government. Drastic measures, such as bleeding, were sometimes resorted to. On the other hand, Chinese herbal remedies had one to two thousand years of use be hind them. In fact, some so-called “wonder drugs” are actually synthesized forms of various herbs. Even today, some medically trained Chinese Americans prefer some herbs to their synthesized forms because the natural herbs have no side effects. [33,Interview with Dr. Herbert Yee (1978)]

One of the ancient building techniques brought from China was construction using rammed earth. While adobe and rammed earth are of ten associated with Spanish and Mexican cultures, rammed earth was a construction technique in use in China as early as 1500 B.C. This technique involves packing mud between wooden forms and hammering it until it becomes as hard as stone. It is an inexpensive building technique, but it is vulnerable to rains and dampness. When it is used in South China, where the weather is often damp, buildings are faced with stone for added protection. [34]

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How Los Angeles Covered Up the Massacre of 17 Chinese
By John Johnson Jr. Thursday, Mar 10 2011. ( Original  article at

The greatest unsolved murders in Los Angeles’ history — bloodier than the Black Dahlia, more coldly vicious than the hit on Bugsy Siegel — occurred on a cool fall night in 1871. Seventeen Chinese men and boys, including a popular doctor, were hanged by an angry mob near what is now Union Station, an act so savage that it bumped the Great Chicago Fire off the front page of The New York Times.

Corpses of the Chinese victims

Corpses of the Chinese victims
Los Angeles at the time of the Chinese massacre

Los Angeles at the time of the Chinese massacre

Eight men eventually were convicted, but the verdicts were thrown out almost immediately for a bizarre technical oversight by the prosecution. Unbelievably for a crime that occurred in full view of hundreds of people, no one was ever again prosecuted.

The truth about the Chinese Massacre remained buried for 140 years, until writerJohn Johnson Jr. took up the hunt. Johnson spent more than a year examining every piece of evidence, including documents long thought to have been lost to history.

Aided by newly discovered records at theHuntington Library, Johnson found that the men convicted of the killings were in fact guilty. Little surprise there.

But Johnson found something astonishing — and sinister. The bloodlust unleashed that October night was allowed to unfold (if not also set in motion) by some of the city’s leading citizens, men so powerful they could arrange to have the convictions fall apart and the reasons for the massacre covered up.

What emerged from Johnson’s research is a portrait of a town engaged in a death struggle against its own worst nature. Come with us on a journey into the liar’s den of our Los Angeles ancestors.

P olice officer Jesus Bilderrain was settling into his drink at Higby’s saloon on the evening of Oct. 24, 1871, when he heard gunfire.

Bilderrain, one of just six cops in rowdy, fast-growing Los Angeles, jumped on his horse and galloped hard for Calle de los Negroes, or Negro Alley.

The officer didn’t need great detecting skills to guess that the trouble came from the Alley, a narrow lane fronted by crumbling adobes left over from the city’s earliest days. Named for the dark-skinned Spaniards who owned property there, Negro Alley for two decades had been the most dangerous piece of topography in the United States. Its gambling houses and flesh markets were home to gamblers and quick-draw artists, men like the princely Jack Powers, the bloodthirsty Cherokee Bob and the notorious man-killer Crooked Nose Smith.

Of 44 homicides that occurred in Los Angeles in one 15-month period — the highest murder rate ever recorded in the United States — a good portion took place in the Alley.

Bilderrain arrived to find a man named Ah Choy lying on the ground, blood spurting from a gunshot wound to his neck. Spotting a group of fleeing Chinese men, Bilderrain chased them into a large L-shaped adobe, the Coronel Building, a crowded warren of shops and tiny apartments that housed the core of the Chinese community.

According to the first version of the story Bilderrain told (before revising it several times in the months that followed), he courageously dashed into the building and was immediately shot. He came back through the doorway, minus his gun and with a bullet in his shoulder.

Falling to his knees, the officer blew his whistle to raise the alarm.

Responding, a man named Robert Thompson ran to the door of the Coronel Building. Thompson was not a cop. In fact, he had been the proprietor of one of the town’s most notorious saloons, the Blue Wing. But in frontier Los Angeles, citizens were used to taking the law into their own hands. In the previous two decades, 35 people were lynched by Vigilance committees in Los Angeles.

As Thompson approached the door, a sometime cop named Adolfo Celis called out that the Chinese were armed.

“I’ll look out after that,” Thompson replied. Sticking his weapon inside the door, he fired blindly into the darkened interior.

He then pulled open the door to go inside and took a bullet in the chest. “I am killed,” he is supposed to have muttered as he turned back toward the street and collapsed. He died an hour later.

Incensed by Thompson’s mortal wounds, a mob estimated at 500 — nearly a tenth of the entire population of Los Angeles — gathered in the Alley to lay siege to the Chinese.

At first, the mob was held at bay by gunfire coming from inside the Coronel. Eventually, the mobsters hatched a new plan. Climbing onto the roof, they used axes to hack holes in the tar covering. Then they sprayed shotgun and rifle fire into the rooms below. By the time the mob had battered open a second door with a large rock, the Chinese had all but given up.

What came next was an orgy of violence shocking even by the decadent standards of the city of Los Angeles.

In the dim gaslight of recently installed street lamps, armed bands of men dragged cringing Chinese to gallows hastily erected downtown. Bodies soon were swinging from two upturned wagons on Commercial Street, as well as the crossbar of the Tomlinson Corral, a popular lynching spot that just the previous year had been used to string up a Frenchman named Miguel Lachenais.

Lynch men also used the porch roof of John Goller‘s wagon shop at Los Angeles and Commercial, a block from the south entrance to the Alley.

Goller was a model citizen, a former city councilman, respectful husband and dutiful father. He objected bitterly as the Chinese were hoisted outside his windows. There are small children inside, he protested.

Negro Alley, where the massacre began

Negro Alley, where the massacre began

“You dry up, you son of a bitch,” growled a teamster as he leveled a rifle at Goller.

As the Chinese were hauled up, a man on the porch roof danced a jig and gave voice to the resentment many Americans felt over the Chinese willingness to work for low wages. “Come on, boys, patronize home trade,” the man sang out.

The bloodlust was not only in the men. A woman who ran a boardinghouse across the street from Goller’s shop volunteered clothesline to be cut up for nooses.

“Hang them,” she screamed.

A boy came running from a dry goods shop. “Here’s a rope,” he called helpfully.

Of all the Chinese in Los Angeles, Dr. Gene Tong(Chee Long Tong) was probably the most eminent and beloved among both his countrymen and Americans. He could have made much more money hanging his shingle in the American part of town. But Tong stayed in the Alley, dispensing both traditional and modern cures from a small shop in the decrepit Coronel Building.

As Tong was dragged along the street, he tried to strike a bargain with his captors. He could pay a ransom, he said. He had $3,000 in gold in his shop. He had a diamond wedding ring. They could have it all.

Instead of negotiating, one of his captors shot him in the mouth to silence him. Then they hanged him, first cutting off his finger to steal the ring.

The next morning, the citizens of Los Angeles filed past the town’s jail building to view the bodies of the dead laid out in double rows. There were 17. It was the largest mass lynching in American history.

When word of the massacre reached the outside world, the reaction was universal horror. In the East, citizens asked what sorts of ghouls had taken up residence on the West Coast. Turning its gaze from heathen lands, the Methodist Conference started raising funds for missionary work in Los Angeles.

Frontier apologists blamed the massacre on the “dregs” of California society, an assortment of thugs and highwaymen who slouched into town every fall from the mines in the north and the lawless Mexican territory to the south.

“American hoodlum and Mexican greaser, Irish tramp and French communist all joined to murder and dispatch the foe,” wrote poet and historian A.J. Wilson.

The truth was different. While the looting and murder were carried out mostly by hoodlums, the deeds required the tacit approval and occasional intervention of the town’s elite. What’s more, the vast majority of those responsible could not have escaped punishment without a legal cover-up.

To begin with, the Massacre was not spontaneous. Events had been building toward violence among Chinese factions in Negro Alley for several days — and tensions between Chinese and Angelenos also were on the rise.

The cause of the shooting of Choy, whom Bilderrain had seen lying in the street, was the kidnapping by a Chinese company of a woman belonging to a rival Chinese company. These companies were a kind of club or gang that offered support and structure to the Chinese in America.

The kidnapped woman was a striking, moonfaced beauty named Yut Ho. Evidence only recently brought to light by historian Scott Zesch indicates she was a properly married woman who was kidnapped by a company to be sold into marriage.

That company was led by a master manipulator named Yo Hing, whose ability to curry favor with the white power structure was second to none in L.A. One businessman who knew him better than most called him a “guttersnipe Talleyrand.”

The lovely Yut Ho belonged to a rival company, one led by a shopkeeper named Sam Yuen.

Determined to restore the young woman to her husband, Yuen imported from San Francisco several tong warriors, basically hit men.

Choy was one of the hit men, which was understandable, given that Yut Ho was his sister.

After disembarking from the steamship in San Pedro and making the kidney-jarring stagecoach ride to Los Angeles, Choy lost little time tracking down Yo Hing. Choy spotted Hing in Negro Alley on Oct. 23 and fired several shots at him.

Hing escaped injury and he swore out a warrant against Choy, who was promptly arrested.

As testament to Hing’s influence with whites, Choy’s bail was set at a staggering $2,000 — an amount far more than that for men accused of murder.

When Yuen showed up to post bail for his man, Hing’s attorney was stunned. The attorney sputtered that Yuen could not possibly have that much money. The Chinese were known to be thrifty, but that amount of money was supposed to be beyond their reach.

A policeman accompanied Yuen to his shop in the Coronel Building, where he verified that Yuen had the bail money, and a lot more, hidden in a trunk.

Soon, rumor of Yuen’s unexpected wealth was circulating through the city’s imbibing establishments, of which there was no shortage. Of 285 businesses in town, 110 dispensed liquor.

The Chinese were already the objects of both fear and revulsion in L.A.: fear because they were seen as almost superhuman in their ability to work long hours for a pittance, revulsion because their religion and culture were alien.

Popular books at the time suggested that the Chinese streaming into California by the thousands to search for gold eventually would take over California and elect a silk-clad Mandarin as governor.

Hatred was so strong that during the Civil War California’s Legislature passed a law that forbade any Chinese from testifying against a white man. The law gave whites immunity — an invitation to violence that historian Paul De Falla says the people of Los Angeles took up with “a glint and a glee” the night of the massacre.

Against that backdrop, it’s easy to imagine the reaction to the revelation that a Chinese company possessed a small fortune, protected only by a locked trunk.

Indeed, several pieces of evidence strongly suggest that Bilderrain went to Negro Alley that evening not to investigate gunshots but to rob Sam Yuen.

For one thing, Bilderrain had a reputation for dishonesty and larceny. Several court cases were filed against him in the years before and after the massacre, accusing him of stealing valuable roosters for use in his cockfighting operation.

Along with his brother Ygnacio, Bilderrain was an inveterate gambler. For years, he and his brother controlled and manipulated the Latino voting bloc in Los Angeles on behalf of Democratic candidates who, ironically, opposed racial equality. On Election Day, it was a common sight to see Jesus Bilderrain in a white duster stuffing bills into voters’ pockets in downtown Los Angeles.

Then there is Bilderrain’s changing story. According to his own account, after he saw Choy wounded in the street, he chased Yuen’s band into the Coronel Building. This made little sense, since Choy was working for Yuen’s gang.

Instead, the officer should have sought out Hing’s gang.

Why didn’t he? Because he likely was working for Hing.

It was well known in town that the Chinese companies paid off the local police for favors. As Hing said about L.A. law enforcement, according to newspaper accounts of a later court hearing, “Police likee money.”

The chief “favor” rendered by the police was the retrieval of escaped Chinese prostitutes. The women were little more than slaves to the companies, yet whenever a prostitute tried to escape her awful confinement, all her owner had to do was go to court and swear out a warrant accusing her of theft. Then, knowing they would earn a fat reward, the police would spring into action, tracking the woman to Santa Barbara, San Diego or elsewhere, and restore her to her tormentors. While police were off on these errands, they left the city unguarded.

This system of payoffs inevitably led to police officers being openly allied with one Chinese company or another.

The likelihood that Bilderrain was doing Hing’s bidding is apparent in his comments after the riot. The officer insisted that he had seen Yuen shoot bar owner Robert Thompson, a remarkable feat given that Bilderrain was lying wounded in the street when Thompson was shot by someone in the dark interior of the building.

Horace Bell, a lawyer and early chronicler of Los Angeles, wrote years later that he believed Bilderrain and Thompson went to Yuen’s store that afternoon for no other purpose than to steal his gold.

Bell’s account was dismissed by historians because he was known to stir a good deal of drink into his tales of early Los Angeles. But in this case there is plenty of independent evidence of Bilderrain’s duplicity.

In the days after the massacre, Hing and Yuen, both of whom survived, gave their versions of events to the Los Angeles Daily Star, blaming each other for the outbreak. But Yuen provided a key piece of evidence in his account, saying his men opened fire on Bilderrain because he came for them in the company of Hing, his enemy.

There was no way, in the highly charged aftermath of the riot, that Yuen could openly accuse a police officer of robbery or of starting the massacre. He could, however, hint at it while blaming Hing for being the instigator of both the kidnapping and the riot.

Further evidence of the Chinese view was offered later, when Dr. Gene Tong’s widow sued Hing, accusing him of starting the violence.

Finally, there was a monumental reversal by Bilderrain that casts doubt on his original explanation for the start of the massacre. He and his friends gave several accounts of what he saw that night, sometimes naming Yuen and sometimes not.

But by the time Yuen filed suit against the city of Los Angeles to recover his lost gold, Bilderrain had come around 180 degrees. He testified for Yuen, claiming he had never seen the gang leader on the night of the massacre.

However the riot started, one of the greatest unanswered questions is how it was allowed to continue. A review of news accounts in the days following the massacre showed that the authorities were strangely, and criminally, uninvolved.

L.A.’s top cop, Marshal Francis Baker, was new to the job. Baker testified before the coroner’s inquest that he arrived at the scene just as Thompson was shot. He deputized an ad hoc collection of men to surround the Coronel Building.

His purpose, he said, was to prevent the escape of those involved in the shooting. But it goes without saying that recruiting guards from among the rabble who frequented the Alley was a questionable decision.

Baker’s next action was even stranger. With gunfire ringing out behind him, he went home to bed, leaving the mob in charge.

Police did little, as was evident by the actions of the two officers with probably the most experience, Emil Harris and George Gard. Both had proved their bravery during the Mexican bandit wars. Harris helped capture the dashing Tiburcio Vasquez, and the Starsaid he and Gard were “hard to beat on either a warm or cold trail.”

But on this night, these brave officers loitered near hay scales at the corner of Los Angeles and Arcadia streets, a half-block from the trouble. Harris took custody of one fleeing Chinese man. But when he was surrounded and the victim wrenched from him by the mob, Harris simply returned to his post, later saying he was unaware that any Chinese people had been hanged.

Harris and Gard said they eventually worked their way to Yuen’s store, where they stood guard for much of the night. Even this was a wasted effort, because the mob had already looted the store and Yuen’s trunk.

As they stood their pointless vigil, it is likely they had one thing on their minds: reward. Both men were allied with Yuen. Just days before the riot, one newspaper reported they had received nice presents from him.

Historians have argued that no one could expect poorly trained police to stand up to an armed mob of hundreds. It’s more likely, however, that police, fatally compromised by their secret deals with Chinese companies and accustomed to letting vigilantes do their deeds, simply stood aside and let the mob do its customary work.

The argument that police were powerless that night was put to the lie by Robert Widney, a former schoolteacher who helped found the University of Southern California. His technique, he wrote years later in papers preserved at the Huntington Library, was to sidle up to a mobster, yank him by the collar, shove the barrel of his pistol into the man’s throat and whisper: “Get out or I’ll kill you.” Widney managed to save four or five Chinese people.

As the mob did its vile work, a crowd of observers gathered along the route of execution to watch. According to later accounts, some of the city’s leading citizens were seen cheering on the killers.

Among them was H.M. Mitchell, a reporter for the Star. A future leader in Democratic party politics, Mitchell would serve a term as sheriff before marrying into the wealthy Glassell family and becoming a gentleman farmer and collector of Western antiquities.

A member of the crowd heard Mitchell yelling, “Hang him.”

Harris Newmark, one of the most respected members of the business community, wrote years later that he heard a shot as he left work that night. Walking over to Los Angeles Street, he learned that Thompson had been killed.

Newmark said he went home to supper “expecting no further trouble.”

The statement strains belief. By the time the mob learned Thompson had died, its blood was up. Given L.A.’s record of vigilantism, it didn’t require much imagination to foresee what would come next.

The mood of the city, from the best to the worst, was that it was time for the Chinese to learn their lesson. As one survivor of the massacre said, according to news accounts: “When Melican man gettee mad, he damned fool. [He] killee good Chinaman allee same bad Chinaman.”

The massacre finally was brought to an end by Sheriff James Burns, a colorful figure known as “Daddy” to the gamblers and whores. He pleaded that if just 25 volunteers from the crowd of onlookers stood with him, he could stop the mob. He soon was hoisted on the shoulders of the crowd and carried into the alley — and the murderers faded into the night.

By 11 p.m., the bars were going great guns as the mob slaked its thirst. At J.H. Weldon‘s, a man with blood on his hands and shirt bellied up to the bar with a boast: “Well, I am satisfied now. I have killed three Chinamen.”

In the aftermath of the massacre, expressions of horror and disgust rained down on the city from around the world.

It was a public relations disaster for a town that was desperate to attract a rail link that was expected to, and did, bring thousands of Anglos to Southern California to sweep away what was left of the Spanish Californio culture.

City fathers believed nothing must discourage those passengers from coming. So they had very good reason to downplay the massacre as a spontaneous outbreak of rage against a hated minority.

They also needed to put the incident behind them as quickly as possible, no small feat for a city that had officially shrugged off vigilante lynchings in the past. Indeed, no lynchers had ever been prosecuted.

In fact, after the hanging of the Frenchman Lachenais the previous year, not only did the grand jury fail to indict anyone, but the lynch men also boldly published a rebuke to the authorities by way of one of the most arrogant editorials ever to run in an American newspaper.

“It is to be hoped,” said the column in theStar, “that the ‘hint’ given by the people yesterday will be sufficient ammunition to cause the weak ‘arm of the law’ to recover its former strength, and render it unnecessary for the people, from whom all the power of the law proceeds, to ever again re-take that ‘law into their own hands.’ ”

The fact that Los Angeles lynch men included influential citizens was shown by the access they were given to one of the city’s finest and newest structures, Teutonia Hall, in which to deliberate Lachenais’ fate. Afterward, they marched through downtown in the light of day before dragging the accused to his fate.

At first, it seemed the killers of the Chinese would benefit from a similar failure of civic will. At the coroner’s inquest, one witness after another, including police, was somehow unable to recognize any of the mob members.

Slowly, however, a few citizens recovered their memories. Various merchants were named at the coroner’s inquest as having aided the mob in one way or another, from a clothing store owner to a farmer, a silk grower, a butcher, a blacksmith, a saloon owner and a carpenter.

The erstwhile cop Celis, who had warned Thompson before he was shot dead, and a constable named Richard Kerren were fingered as men who shot at the Chinese. City Councilman George Fall was identified as having attacked Hing with a plank of wood.

The grand jury finally issued indictments accusing two dozen men of murder. But not one prominent person was on the list — not Fall, not Mitchell, not Harris or Gard. While awaiting trial, two of the accused, Louis “Fatty” Mendell and L.F. “Curly” Crenshaw, received visits in jail from Harris and Gard.

Inexplicably, the penniless rabble managed to engage one of the most distinguished and successful members of the bar to defend them. Edward J.C. Kewen‘s legendary oratorical gifts were almost certainly beyond the financial reach of the defendants. His ability to sway listeners was such that the Lincoln administration imprisoned him for several months during the Civil War for making secessionist speeches around the West.

The prosecution was led by District Attorney Cameron Erskine Thom, the grandson of a Scottish warrior and son of a captain in the War of 1812 who had been on friendly terms with Thomas Jefferson.

Surely Thom had the combination of character and courage to stand up to any forces in town that would excuse the rioters.

But other factors apparently were at work. Like the vast majority of Angelenos, Thom was openly sympathetic to the Southern cause in the Civil War. (He had even given up his law practice in 1862 to volunteer for the Confederacy. He was wounded at Gettysburg.)

This comity of feeling for the Southern cause bound the rioters and their accusers in the same way that going to the same college or belonging to the same club binds people, Doyce Nunis, former head of the history department at USC and an expert on the massacre, said in an interview with the Weekly before his death last month.

If good citizens like Thom and Kewen did not sanction lynching, they almost certainly shared the rioters’ attitude toward the Chinese as a threat to the future of California as a homeland for transplanted WASPS.

With all this as a backdrop, Los Angeles’ first Trial of the Century began in March 1872.

Showing just how deeply the vigilante movement had penetrated the city, one prospective juror after another was disqualified because he belonged to a Vigilance committee.

Presiding over the trial was Robert Widney, the hero of the massacre, who acted to save Chinese people when police would not. But according to historian De Falla, Widney wasn’t even a member of the bar, and wouldn’t be for some months.

If that weren’t enough reason to question his fitness, he should have disqualified himself because he had personally witnessed the violence that night. How could he sit in judgment and fairly rule on motions submitted by the defense when he knew who was guilty?

The first to stand trial was Crenshaw. A drifter who had run away from home in Nevada the previous year, Curly was 22 but looked much younger. He apparently gave in to the temptations of Negro Alley with a lusty enthusiasm. “His favorite resort,” according to theLos Angeles Daily News, “was the rendezvous of lewd women, pickpockets and cutthroats.”

In short order, he was convicted. Not of murder, the obvious crime, but of manslaughter.

How could that be? Witnesses said Curly had fired down on Chinese from atop the Coronel Building.

But Curly had a powerful ally. Policeman Gard — who did little to stop the lynching — testified that he gave his rifle to Curly to hold while he put out a fire on the roof. When he got it back, he said, the gun contained the same number of bullets.

Suddenly, Gard’s and Harris’ jailhouse visit made sense.

The trials of the next nine defendants were combined. This is usually a dangerous tactic, since jurors tend to blame all for the worst acts of the few. But Kewen had an ace up his sleeve.

Seven of the nine were convicted but, again, of manslaughter. Widney imposed sentences ranging from two to six years, light terms given the crime.

Kewen pulled out his ace not long after the guilty boarded ship for San Quentin. He filed papers with the Supreme Court of California, alleging that the convictions were improper because the district attorney committed a fatal legal error.

Prosecutor Thom had correctly charged the defendants with murdering the beloved Dr. Tong. But Thom had failed to introduce evidence that Tong had been killed.

The court agreed and the convictions were set aside.

Thom’s mistake was the error of a rookie, not of a veteran prosecutor. What’s more, Thom never attempted to retry the defendants.

He also never brought to trial the majority of those accused by the grand jury. After a time, the indictments themselves were mislaid, so that no future trials could be held.

Just like that, L.A. had disposed of its messy public relations problem.

Local newspapers did not even mention the lynching in their year-end analysis of the major events of the previous 12 months.

Within five years, the arrival of the transcontinental railroad made the trip West fast and safe, and the great immigration of church builders, book clubbers and ladies who lunch followed. Los Angeles became a modern city, and many of the men who lived through the evil times grew rich.

The massacre did have one salutary effect, however: It brought an end to the rule of the rope in Los Angeles. The Chinese were the last to be lynched in L.A.

Historian Nunis was convinced that the whole truth about the massacre never was told. “It’s very hard to prove that the best citizens were involved, although I believe it’s true,” he told the Weekly.

“You’ve got to look at what motivated the killers,” he added. “The economy was on the decline with the end of the Civil War. There was social dislocation. Blacks were moving in. The Chinese were very successful. All these things caused resentment.”

Far from being the result of passions inflamed by alcohol, “I really felt the lynchings were a put-up job,” Nunis said.

And still today, every so often, the rainbow mix of populations in Los Angeles forsake their surfboards, convertibles, Cinco de Mayo celebrations and Martin Luther King Jr. Daymarches and rise in revolt against each other’s accursed presence in this paradise.

The story might end there, were it not for strange events that occurred in the following years.

In 1877, a brief appeared in one of the newspapers noting that one Yo Hing had been hacked to death by an assassin bearing, along with a hatchet, “an old grudge.” Somehow, the author failed to note Hing’s connection to the massacre only six years earlier.

Celis, one of only two defendants acquitted in the massacre case, died in a bizarre accident while chasing horse thieves in the San Fernando Valley. According to the account given by Gard, who was riding in a buggy with Celis at the time, a rifle fell out of the wagon and hit a spoke on one of the wheels. Absurd as it sounds, the rifle discharged a bullet that struck Celis square in the chest, Gard said, apparently with a straight face.

As no one else saw the incident, Gard’s word was taken as gospel.

Around the same time, H.M. Mitchell, by then known as Major Mitchell, having left behind his ragged roots as a journalist, went hunting with City Attorney William E. Dunn in the foothills beyond Pasadena. Dunn mistook his friend for a deer, accidentally shooting Mitchell — twice. A single mistaken shot by a skilled hunter seems barely credible. But two shots?

Did the wily Sam Yuen, still burning with rage over never having recovered his gold, have a hand in these events?

Nunis doubted Yuen was that smart. And Yuen could hardly be blamed for another premature death, that of Gard, who after the massacre became a railroad detective and died in a fiery explosion.

If not Yuen, then, who was settling the score?

Maybe it was just bad luck, the kind that for a few decades in the 19th century seemed to find a home in the rough-and-ready town of Los Angeles.

The Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871 and its Strange Career: The People Killed

Posted: October 25th, 2010

With so many public traces gone, it would seem that final accountings might be frustrated. That might be true of the ones that got away, but not all lists of names have disappeared. The Chinese Los Angelenos who were killed on October 24, 1871 were not nameless. The Los Angeles Daily News printed a record of those whose names were known. For the sake of a fresh look at the October 1871 massacre, and to provide a better accounting for at least eighteen of those killed, here is an inventory. There is Chee Long Tong. He was reputed to be a doctor. Non-Chinese Los Angelenos called him “Gene” Tong. He was shot through the head and hanged. There is Wa Sin Quai, noted as “resident of Negro Alley.” Shot in the abdomen and legs. There is Chang Wan, a resident of Doctor Tong’s house. He was hanged. There was Long Quai. Hanged. There was Joung Burrow who was shot through the head and left wrist. Another with no name, but was guessed later to be Won yu Tuk, hanged, was a cigar manufacturer in life. Wong Chin – hanged, and three cartridges were found in his pocket. There was Tong Wan who was shot, stabbed, and hanged and there was Ah Loo, hanged. Wan Foo was hanged. Day Kee was hanged. Ah Was was hanged. Ah Cut, shot in the abdomen and extremities. He was a liquor manufacturer. There was Lo Hey, hanged; Ah Wen, hanged; and Wing Chee, hanged. There was Fun Yu who was shot in the head and died October 27. And there was an unidentified Chinese male who was hanged and found in the cemetery (most likely it was Wong Tuck).

Victor Jew, The Anti-Chinese Massacre of 1871 and its Strange Career, chapter in William Deverell and Greg Hise, A Companion to Los Angeles (2010), citing P.M. De Falla, Lantern in the Western Sky, Part 2, 42 Quarterly of the Historical Society of Southern California 161-62 (1960).

Victims of the Chinatown Massacre of 1871 lie dead in the jail yard. Los Angeles Public Library, Security Pacific National Bank Collection.

The City of Los Angeles continues to desecrate the site of the Chinatown Massacre — click here to learn more about The City Project’s law suit to preserve history and green space at Father Serra Park and the site of the Massacre.


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有人说这一切都是袁店主策划的,但随着相关人等的去世,真相或许将永远湮没在历史长河中。( 来源:《青年参考》;作者:章鲁生)


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Dr. Miriam Lee, OMD (Lee Chuan Djin)

Original Article (by Susan Johnson, L.Ac) is at  http://tungspoints.com/lineage/


In 1976, Miriam Lee was one of the first people to be licensed as an acupuncturist in the state of  California. In 1974, she was arrested for practicing medicine without a license.

At her trial, her patients filled the courtroom in protest of her arrest, claiming their right to the only medicine that had truly helped them. Within a few days of Dr. Lee’s trial, acupuncture was authorized as an experimental procedure in California. In 1976, Governor Jerry Brown signed the  legislation that finally legalized acupuncture.

The Acupuncture Association of America was founded by Dr. Miriam Lee in July 1980; Dr. Lee continued to lead the organization until her retirement in 1998. The Acupuncture Association of America was created to promote public education about acupuncture, provide continuing education classes for licensed practitioners, to guide and support legislative advocacy, and to promote research in the field of acupuncture.

For nearly a decade, the Acupuncture Association of America supported Art Krause, a California lobbyist whose primary work has been on behalf of acupuncturists. Dr. Lee offered classes in order to raise funds needed to support this legislative work. Mr. Krause, well respected in Sacramento, was able to negotiate agreements with influential politicians. Among the friends of the Acupuncture Association of America and acupuncture were Dr. Bill Filante, Senators Art Torres and Herschel Rosenthal, all instrumental in getting many acupuncture bills made into law. It is because of the monumental efforts of Dr. Miriam Lee, Art Krause and others that California acupuncturists are now licensed, have a very comprehensive scope of practice, primary care physician status, primary insurance coverage and have been able to accept Medi-Cal.

In 1989, the Council of Acupuncture Organizations was formed to unite the profession in the legislative process. This group was composed of nine different acupuncture organizations throughout California, including three Chinese, two Japanese, two Korean and two Caucasian groups. This was the first attempt to bring together these different acupuncture communities. Unfortunately, the group met for only two years, but during that time, the Council of Acupuncture Organizations was able to procure acupuncture coverage through Worker’s Compensation.

Many new acupuncture organizations were formed during the 1990’s, both in California and nationwide. The Acupuncture Association of America, having had a very significant role in the early formation and legalization of California acupuncture, was then able to focus on providing continuing education classes. Dr. Miriam Lee sponsored many well-known practitioners from China to come to her clinic in Palo Alto to teach seminars. These courses covered a variety of topics such as Tung’s Points, herbal formulation, scalp acupuncture, wrist and ankle points, and Traditional Chinese Medicine gynecology and oncology.

Dr. Miriam Lee retired in 1998, and moved to Southern California to be with her family. Dr. Lee passed away June 24th, 2009. Miriam Lee was a pioneering doctor whose tireless work led to the recognition and legalization of the medical practice of acupuncture in California.

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Jean-Baptiste Sarlandière

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Jean-Baptiste Sarlandiere)

Jean-Baptiste Sarlandière (1787 – July 25, 1838) was a French anatomist and physiologist who was a native of Aix-la-Chapelle. At the age of 16 he began his medical studies at the local hospital in Noirmoutiers. In 1803 he was called to military service, and spent the next 11 years as part of the French Army. He resumed his studies in 1814, and was appointed physician at the military hospital in Paris. He received his medical degree in 1815.

Sarlandière was a colleague of François Magendie (1783–1855), and the two physicians collaborated on several physiological experiments. Sarlandière is remembered for introducing electroacupuncture to European medicine. This therapeutic technique combined electricity withacupuncture. Unlike Oriental acupuncture, the needle was not the primary agent of treatment, but simply acted as a conductor to apply the electricity subcutaneously. Reportedly he had success with electroacupuncture treating respiratory and rheumatic disorders, as well as some forms of paralysis, and his technique was soon adopted in French hospitals.

Sarlandière is also remembered for his written works. He died in 1838 while he was finishing one of his better works, Traité du système nerveux (Treatise on the Nervous System). Other well-known writings of his are:

  • Memoires sur l’electropuncture (1825)
  • Anatomie méthodique, ou Organographie humaine (Systematized anatomy, or human organography); (1830)
  • Physiologie de l’action musculaire appliquée aux arts d’imitation

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James Tin Yau So

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tin_Yau_So

Dr. James Tin Yau So, N.D., LAc., (1911–2000) also known as Dr. So, was one of the most influential individuals of the 20th Century in bringing acupuncture to the United States.[citation needed]

Dr. So’s teacher was Tsang Tien Chi who studied under Ching Tan An. He graduated from Dr. Tsang’s College of Scientific Acupuncture inCantonChina, in 1939. During the same year Dr. So opened his medical office in Hong Kong. In 1941 he opened his own school, The Hong Kong College Acupuncture. For the next thirty years, Dr. So established himself as one of the most successful and well-respected acupuncturists throughout Asia.[citation needed]

Several acupuncturists from the National Acupuncture Association (NAA) sought Dr. So’s assistance in 1972.[citation needed] At the time the NAA offered Dr. So a position as acupuncturist at the UCLA Acupuncture Pain Clinic, the only legal acupuncture clinic in California at that time. Dr. So accepted and joined the NAA staff of acupuncturists and the UCLA Acupuncture Pain Clinic in 1973.[1]

In 1974, Dr. So was part of the NAA group that traveled to Massachusetts and opened the first acupuncture clinic in Boston and a second clinic in Worcester. Dr. Steven Rosenblatt and Dr. Gene Bruno assisted Dr. So in the translation of his three books on the points of acupuncture, the techniques acupuncture and treatment of disease by acupuncture. Dr. So, with the help of Dr. Rosenblatt and Dr. Bruno founded the first school of acupuncture in the US in 1974.[citation needed] Dr. So, with the help of his students Arnie Freiman and Steven Breeker registered this school the next year and changed the name to the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA), in 1975.[2] With his approval Dr. Gene Bruno and Dr. Steven Rosenblatt founded a second school in the US, which became the California Acupuncture College, located in West Los Angeles.

Dr. So was posthumously awarded the Acupuncturist of the Year award in 2001 by the American Association of Oriental Medicine at their national conference in Hawaii. In 2007, Dr. So Tin Yau was among the first four acupuncturists to be inscribed on the Founders of the Profession Honor Roll by the American Association of Oriental Medicine.[citation needed]

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Dr. Miriam Lee: a heroine for the start of acupuncture as a profession in the State of California


The History of Acupuncture in the U.S. Begins with Miriam Lee

From http://www.insights-for-acupuncturists.com/history-of-acupuncture.html

(Re-posted by Dr.Arthur Yin Fan. We got kind permission from original author Lisa Hanfileti, LAc.)

Miriam Lee with Susan Johnson

I have no business writing about the history of acupuncture in America. I am not a historian. I am definitely not an impartial observer.

I am a licensed acupuncturist who is passionate about the profession and I have an agenda to help new acupuncturists build solid, sustainable practices. Moreover, I think Miriam Lee is the George Washington of American acupuncture.

Dr. Miriam Lee (left) with Susan Johnson (right) Reprinted with kind permission from Susan Johnson Read more about Miriam Lee at www.tungspoints.net

Currency should be minted with her face on it. Streets should be named after her.

There should be a medal of Honor called the “Miriam Lee Award”, bestowed upon those who display dedication and excellence in the field of acupuncture. And she should be the first to receive it. This is hardly the frame of mind of a reporter of historical facts. But maybe it is time a passionate and biased acupuncturist offered a different version of the history of Acupuncture in America.

The History of Acupuncture in America Does Not Begin With Nixon

Perhaps you have already heard the popular version that acupuncture arrived when Nixon opened up relations with China. There is no doubt that this helped acupuncture to grow, but it does not mark the beginning of acupuncture in the United States. A true historian would start the “History of Acupuncture in America” by documenting the Chinese doctor who first made acupuncture available. I am not sure that information is even known. (Master’s Thesis, anyone?) One thing we do know is that Chinese medicine arrived in the U.S. through the doctors who immigrated here, some as early as the 1800’s. See, China Doctor of John Day (1979) by Jeffrey Barlow and Christine Richardson. However, for most modern Americans they will “start” the history of acupuncture in 1972 when then President Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger, traveled to China accompanied by a journalist for the New York Times. While in China the journalist, named James Reston, fell ill and ended up in a Chinese hospital requiring an emergency appendectomy.To relieve his pain doctors used acupuncture. Intrigued and impressed with the effectiveness of his experience with acupuncture, James Reston wrote about his hospitalization and acupuncture treatment in the New York Times, exposing countless Americans for the first time to acupuncture. What James Reston didn’t know is that in 1966 a young Chinese doctor immigrated to the United States and quietly started a revolution that would lead to the legalization of acupuncture in California, and set a precedent for the rest of the United States.

A New Version of the History of Acupuncture in the United States

As American acupuncturists, with a relatively short history, it is important to know how acupuncture developed in this country and on whose broad shoulders we stand. History texts from China tell us that the ancient way of learning Chinese medicine was to apprentice with a Master.

Chinese Commemorative WallStudents spent years learning about the art and application of acupuncture and herbal medicine. But they also learned something else. They learned the lineage of their medicine. These apprentices learned the names of all the Masters who came before them, all the way back to Qi Boand the Yellow Emperor. This was not some silly exercise in memorization. It was a respectful study honoring the contributions of thought, theory, practice, technique, and understanding of the doctors who devoted their lives to the art of healing and the science of medicine.

The Heroes of America Acupuncture

Unlike the apprentices of ancient China I cannot give you an historically accurate list of Acupuncture Masters who took on the daunting task of establishing Chinese medicine in the United States. So instead I will provide you with The Heroes of American Acupuncture as I see it.

Who’s Your Acupuncture Hero?? Click Here to Share Who Inspired YOU!

Miriam Lee

Miriam Lee is my Hero. In her book, Insights of a Senior Acupuncturist, Dr. Lee shares her journey to the United States and how she came to practice acupuncture at a time when it was illegal. Dr. Lee was a trained nurse, midwife, and acupuncturist in China during a time of poverty and war. She escaped to Singapore in 1949 and it was there that she began her study of emotionally-based illnesses. In pursuit of a better life, she moved to the United States in 1966. She arrived in California at a time when acupuncture was illegal, so she took a job in a factory, unsure if she would ever practice medicine again. It was only when she saw a friend’s bed-ridden son that she offered her skills knowing that acupuncture could help. After several treatments he completely recovered. This began a deluge of word-of-mouth referrals. She always found a way to see the 75 to 80 patients a day who lined up at her door. Miriam Lee rose to the challenge. Her attitude was, “If you don’t press the olive seed, there will be no oil.” (From her book, Insights of a Senior Acupuncturist) As if she was not under enough pressure, she was arrested in 1975 for “practicing medicine without a license”. Her patients filled the courtrooms anxious to testify on her behalf. Finally a compromise was proposed and Dr. Lee was permitted to practice acupuncture as an “experimental procedure”. A year later acupuncture was signed into California law as a legal medical practice. Miriam Lee went on to found and run the Acupuncture Association of America working closely with law makers to develop a comprehensive scope of practice and professional licensing for acupuncturists. Dr. Lee’s persistence lead to the inclusion of acupuncture coverage by California’s primary health care insurance plans. All the while Miriam Lee maintained her clinical practice and was devoted to teaching acupuncture to students. She is responsible for bringing many well known practitioners from China to teach seminars at her Palo Alto clinic. Those seminars and Dr. Lee’s courses on Tung’s Points, Herbal Formulations, Scalp Acupuncture, Wrist and Ankle Points, and TCM Gynecology and Oncology are still being taught and utilized today. Miriam Lee has poured her heart and soul into the welfare of her patients, the teaching of her students, and the entire profession of acupuncture in the United States. As I stated earlier she should be the first recipient of the Miriam Lee AwardConsider this her nomination.

Bob Flaws

Bob Flaws is another Hero. He has dedicated himself to translating and publishing otherwise inaccessible Chinese textbooks and making them available in the United States. He has also contributed innumerable essays, thought-provoking articles, and books on Chinese Medicine. He and his wife Honora Lee Wolfe started Blue Poppy Press and are the reason why we know who Miriam Lee is in the first place. The Blue Poppy organization is dedicated to the advancement of acupuncture and provides supportive materials, including classes, and workshops for acupuncture marketing and business management.

Ted Kaptchuck

Ted Kaptchuck is the author of The Web That Has No Weaver, an incredible book on Chinese medicine written at a time when there was little understanding of such concepts of QiYin, and Yang. I still regard his definition of Qi as the most comprehensive; “Qi is energy on the verge of becoming matter, and matter on the verge of becoming energy.” Today his book continues to be used as a standard textbook in many acupuncture schools and is a reliable resource for studying for the NCCAOM certification exam. Ted is a researcher at Harvard University and has written numerous insightful articles and books on Chinese medicine and acupuncture. He started Kan Herbal Company and provides traditional and original herbal formulations to practitioners around the world. Read Ted Kaptchuk’s interview on Scientific American Frontiers. He has a unique understanding of the similarities and differences between Western Medicine and Eastern Medicine, and he shares his valuable perspective on the history of Eastern Medicine in the United States.

Ing Hay

“Doc Hay” predates any acupuncturists already mentioned and may be the first documented Chinese herbalist in the United States. Ing Hay and his outgoing partner, Lung On deserve recognition for their amazing accomplishments. In 1887 a 25 year old Ing Hay arrived in Eastern Oregon in the then mining town of John Day. He was among a small group of Chinese immigrants there to mine and make their fortune. However fate took a turn. Ing Hay met a bright young man named Lung On. Together they drew on the traditional medicine of their homeland to provide much needed medicine to the small community. Their commitment to healing and the townspeople are recorded in China Doctor of John Day (1979) by Jeffrey Barlow and Christine Richardson. The Kam Wah Chung Building where Doc Hay lived and saw his patients is preserved as an historic site in John Day, Oregon. A guided tour reveals actual packages of herbs from China that Doc Hay used in his formulations. Some of these herbs are so rare they have yet to be identified.

This list of people who wrote the history of acupuncture in America is far from complete. There are so many more and they ALL deserve recognition and thanks. Watch for this list to grow as more information is gathered. Please share your Insights about any of these or other acupuncturists who inspired you.

Who Is Your Acupuncture Hero? Who Inspired You.
Modern Acupuncturists Helping Acupuncturists

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