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The needle and the lancet: acupuncture in Britain, 1683–2000
  1. Roberta Bivins, research associate
  1. Centre for the History of Science Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, robertabivins{at}


    Although commonly regarded as a late twentieth century phenomenon, acupuncture use in Britain has a surprisingly long history, beginning with its seventeenth century transmission from China and Japan. Acupuncture was in use in the great hospitals of Paris before a second stage of transmission and translation brought it to nineteenth century Britain. Acupuncture’s first wave of popularity and its results in British medical practice can be examined through examples drawn from the Lancet, the BMJ and other medical periodicals. This historical transmission of acupuncture to the UK can be fruitfully compared to its modern analogue, and historical patterns of acupuncture use can be compared with those displayed in contemporary Britain.

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