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Morphological foundations of acupuncture: an anatomical nomenclature of acupuncture structures
  1. Claus C Schnorrenberger, Professor
  1. German Research Institute of Chinese Medicine, Silberbachstrasse 10, D-79100 Freiburg, Germany


    European mistranslations of original Chinese texts have not merely introduced incorrect concepts to Western acupuncturists, but have adversely affected treatment methods. The French diplomat Soulie de Morant published an important treatise, “L'acuponcture Chinoise”, in 1939; this has formed the basis of Westernised “traditional” Chinese acupuncture. Because he had no medical background, he was unable to interpret the medical significance of traditional Chinese concepts in the texts that he had read. More, he could not see that a firm basis of medical knowledge is necessary for the reliable practise of acupuncture, thus unwittingly introducing acupuncture as a playground for lay therapists.

    The two most important mistranslations were: i. the use of “point” for Xue-wei, which would be better translated as “foramen” to give the impression of a three dimensional structure; and ii. Qi, which is a particularly difficult concept to translate, but is certainly not equivalent to the Western term “energy”. These errors have now been accepted into standard usage through their transcription into modern, Western language, Chinese textbooks.

    Western acupuncturists are mainly unaware of the substantial anatomical basis for the nomenclature in acupuncture, and indeed of the anatomical knowledge of the ancient Chinese physicians as expressed in original Chinese medical texts, examples of which are given in this paper.

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