Much like the story of Christopher Columbus “discovering” the new world, so too is there a story of how traditional Chinese medicine came to the United States. James Reston was a reporter for the New York Times who traveled with President Nixon to China in July 1971. While in China he developed appendicitis. His appendix was removed through conventional surgery at the Anti-Imperialist Hospital in Beijing. His post-operative pain was treated by Li Chang-yuan using acupuncture. He said later in a New York Times article:
I was in considerable discomfort if not pain during the second night after the operation, and Li Chang-yuan, doctor of acupuncture at the hospital, with my approval, inserted three long, thin needles into the outer part of my right elbow and below my knees and manipulated them in order to stimulate them and relieve the pressure and distention of the stomach.
That sent ripples of pain racing through my limbs and, at least, had the effect of diverting my attention from the distress in my stomach. Meanwhile, Dr. Li lit two pieces of an herb called ai [ye], which looked like the burning stumps of a broken cheap cigar, and held them close to my abdomen while occasionally twirling the needles into action.
All this took about 20 minutes, during which I remember thinking that it was rather a complicated way to get rid of gas on the stomach, but there was a noticeable relaxation of the pressure distension within an hour and no recurrence of the problem thereafter.
This is considered the first large exposure of traditional Chinese medicine to the American public. Now, 43 years later, acupuncture is the fastest growing CAM medicine in the U.S.
If you haven’t tried it yet, there’s no time like the present!