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History of Acupuncture in the U.S.

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Acupuncture is an ancient healing system that began over 3000 years ago and spread to Europe and eventually was practiced in the U.S.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Bache was born on August 12, 1769, in Philadelphia, Providence of Pennsylvania, British America, son of Richard and Sarah (Franklin) Bache. Sarah (Franklin) Bache, the daughter of Benjamin and Deborah (Read) Franklin of Philadelphia. Their grandson was nicknamed “Benny” and his maternal grandmother, Deborah (Read) Franklin adored him.


On October 26, 1776, Benjamin Franklin took two of his grandsons to France on his diplomatic mission to negotiate alliances. Upon arrival in France, Benjamin Franklin enrolled his grandson in a boarding school. The first boarding school “d’Hourville” but there were not any English-speaking students in this school. So, Benjamin Franklin enrolled him into LeCoeur boarding school which other students from the British Colonial attended.

In June 1783, Benjamin Franklin allowed his grandson to study printing in Paris, until 1785 when they returned to Philadelphia. And Benjamin Read graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1787, Later in Geneva, Switzerland he won a prize for translating Latin into French.


In 1825, Dr. Benjamin Bache was visiting France, when he was given a book called “Memoire sur L’acupuncture” which provided detailed clinical observations about acupuncture. In 1826, he published the results of his experience treating prisoners with acupuncture in the North American Medical and Surgical Journal and concluded that acupuncture was an extremely effective practice for pain management. Even though, Dr. Benjamin Bache died in 1798 of yellow fever in Philadelphia the medical community continue with acupuncture. By 1860, the interest in acupuncture basically died out, except in a few specialized circles.

Americans began to show interest in Acupuncture in the early 1900s. They focused more on the notion of tapping needles into nerves rather than the traditional idea of the energy that the practice of acupuncture was centered around.


The first acupuncturist in the United States was Dr. Fu Xing Fang, who practiced acupuncture in Los Angeles California in the 1930s. The Traditional Chinese Medicinal belief of acupuncture conflicted with those of the American belief system. In 1950; s acupuncture research organizations were formed in the United States and techniques began to be used in hospitals.

James Reston was born in 1909 in Dunbartonshire, Scotland. His family lived in Dayton, Ohio, and he graduated from Oakwood High. School. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1932. In 1939 James was employed at the New York Times and later become the correspondent in Washington, D.C.

In July 1971, Reston suffered appendicitis while visiting China with his wife. After his appendix was removed through conventional surgery at the Anti-Imperialist Hospital in Beijing, his post-operative pain was treated by Li Chang-yuan with acupuncture. The article he wrote for the Times describing his experience was the first time many Americans had heard of the traditional Chinese medical practice.

Timeline of Acupuncture

1973- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allowed acupuncture to be deducted as a medical expense.

1982- National Certification of Complementary Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

1992- U.S. Congress erected the Office of Alternative Medicine

1997- National Institute of Health (NIH) declared support for acupuncture for some conditions.

1999- NIH created the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

2003- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the NIH provided a list of health conditions that acupuncture is successful in treating.

As of September 21, 2017, over 14 million Americans have had acupuncture treatment because it is widely known for its powerful healing relieving such conditions as insomnia, depression, anxiety and so much more.

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