Foreigners are also visiting this nation to study this form of medical treatment as well as receive treatment
Acupuncture, considered a traditional Chinese medical practice, is gaining popularity in many countries around the world. With a history spanning over 3000 years, this method of treating the ill has been popularised through experiments and observations. The exact origins of the practice of acupuncture are yet to be discovered by the Chinese.
However, it is widely regarded as the oldest medical practice in the world. Some even believe acupuncture to be a medical practice with roots in the lineage of Sri Lankan King Ravana. Acupuncture shares similarities with the practice of Nila Wedakama (a traditional Sri Lankan medical practice that involves manipulating specific points on the body to alleviate various ailments) in Sri Lanka. This method of treatment was not limited to humans; in the past, dogs, cats, horses, parrots, and cattle have benefited from acupuncture.
During the periods of the Portuguese, Dutch and English rule in this country there were attempts to destroy the medical practices belonging to the indigenous generations. Sri Lanka’s medicinal knowledge was taken to those foreign lands mentioned in this article and the palm-leaf manuscripts on indigenous medicine were destroyed. Another school of thought suggests that the acupuncture treatment methods that existed in Sri Lanka during that time might have been destroyed. However, since acupuncture treatment is popularized by China it is commonly referred to as Chinese acupuncture. Historical records in Chinese medicine indicate that, in the past the practice involved using pieces of sticks and later, pieces of stone for manipulating the selected points (nila) in the body.
There is also an opinion that acupuncture was used as a form of medical treatment in Sri Lanka until the period of the Balangoda Man (refers to hominins from Sri Lanka’s late Quaternary period). If so, acupuncture should be called Ceylon acupuncture, not Chinese acupuncture. However, China somehow spread this medical practice all over the world, so it is commonly referred to as Chinese acupuncture.
This treatment can help beat ageing appearance, wrinkles, saggy skin, protruding belly, enlarged breasts, postpartum obesity, arthritis and also help gain height. Acupuncture is used to tackle obesity, diabetes, varicose veins and it can also address various issues such as premature graying of hair and hair loss, excessive headache, sexual impotence, psoriasis, vitiligo and also provides beauty treatments such as dealing with acne spots, etc. In acupuncture treatment it is acknowledged that there are numerous causes for certain health conditions. Many people resort to various types of pills and creams to combat these conditions, but achieving proper results may not be possible, and sometimes it can lead to other side effects. Acupuncture, on the other hand, possesses the ability to treat a wide range of diseases from head to toe. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised acupuncture as a valid treatment method for any disease. This medical of practice can be used to cure diseases in a very short period of time. Based on various conditions, acupuncture treatment is given utilising Nila points on the body.
My mother, Ariyavathi Gamage, is also an indigenous medical doctor from a traditional family of doctors. My aunt was the late Somalatha Gamage, known as Matara WedaHamine. In addition to traditional medicine, my mother became interested in learning acupuncture. Subsequently, she studied acupuncture for four years under Prof. Anton Jayasuriya
Dr. Prasad Devapriya, Director Kalubowila
Chinese Acupuncture Society
Mao Zedong took the initiative to spread acupuncture practice in China. Zedong was a brilliant librarian and a skilled ruler. In the 1920s, during military struggles against the Kuomintang, Zedong’s primary challenge was the inability to preserve medicines for treating the injured soldiers. Consequently, he sought the assistance of local Chinese doctors who specialised in acupuncture. After assuming power, he allocated a significant role to acupuncture medical treatment; taking steps to popularise it alongside Western medicine.
Sri Lanka’s very own Prof. Anton Jayasuriya holds a significant position when talking about acupuncture treatment in Sri Lanka. In 1962, he traveled to Kazakhstan to study acupuncture. Subsequently, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue further education in acupuncture medicine in China. Upon returning to Sri Lanka after his studies, Prof. Jayasuriya didn’t immediately start the practice of acupuncture in Sri Lanka. Instead, he initiated a series of lectures on acupuncture practice at the Eye Hospital auditorium in Colombo in 1971. Later, in 1975, he established an acupuncture unit at the General Hospital in Kalubowila. The unit’s inauguration attracted the participation of doctors and medical students from various countries like Japan, Italy, Germany, America, England, Switzerland, Korea, China, and India. Additionally, traditional Sri Lankan doctors and medical students were actively involved in learning this practice. Prof. Jayasuriya also took the lead in nurturing acupuncturists by introducing a four-year degree course in acupuncture for local and foreign medical students.
After obtaining the degree both Sri Lankan and foreign students acquired extensive medical knowledge on acupuncture. Additionally, a generation of doctors, nurtured from the training received from skilled individuals, continues to apply their expertise both locally and abroad. At present there is a huge medical family in Sri Lanka which has studied acupuncture medicine. Dr. Prasad Devapriya, Director of the Kalubowila Chinese Acupuncture Clinic and Media Director of Open University, is a member of that family. Devapriya said, ‘I am a descendent from the MataraYatiyana lineage of indigenous medicine. My grandfather was Andiris Appuhami who is known as YatiyanaWedaMahattaya. My mother, Ariyavathi Gamage, is also an indigenous medical doctor from a traditional family of doctors. My aunt was the late Somalatha Gamage, known as Matara WedaHamine. In addition to traditional medicine, my mother became interested in learning acupuncture. Subsequently, she studied acupuncture for four years under Prof. Anton Jayasuriya. Following in her footsteps, I also studied acupuncture under Professor Anton Jayasuriya and became a doctor,” said Dr. Devapriya.
Prof. Jayasuriya also took the lead in nurturing acupuncturists by introducing a four-year degree course in acupuncture for local and foreign medical students
He pointed out that Sri Lanka’s first Executive President J.R. Jayewardene is credited as the political leader who helped popularise acupuncture in Sri Lanka by offering government support. “After Jayewardene became President he was treated for a knee ailment during while on a visit to China. But the late president didn’t recover fully. However, a Chinese acupuncture doctor, who was there, treated Jayewardene using acupuncture and cured the pain in his knee. Following this experience, Jayewardene showed more interest in acupuncture. The Chinese doctor informed him about Anton Jayasuriya, who had successfully studied and carried out acupuncture practices in Sri Lanka. Subsequently, when Jayewardene returned to Sri Lanka, he met Prof. Jayasuriya, and gained valuable insights into acupuncture. He also studied about acupuncture and sought to learn more about this medical practice from China; with the aim of spreading the pracitce in Sri Lanka. On several occasions thereafter Jayewardene received acupuncture treatment from Prof. Jayasuriya and saw that he was recovering from certain illnesses,” he recalled. Dr. Deshapriya said that Jayewardene played a pivotal role in improving acupuncture treatment at the Kalubowila Hospital and contributed towards popularising this method throughout the country citing the health benefits he obtained.
Jayewardene worked to provide the necessary facilities to spread acupuncture treatment throughout the country and supported it to the fullest. Additionally, he served as the guardian of acupuncture medical practice in Sri Lanka until his death. President Jayewardene was also highly praised in China. Dr. Devapriya said that after Zedong in China, he was the only foreign leader who contributed to the expansion of acupuncture treatment.
Dr. Geethanjana Mendis also made a significant contribution to popularise acupuncture in this country. Foreigners are also visiting this nation to study this form of medical treatment as well as receive treatment. So far, Roshan Maddumage, Sugath Komikaduwa, and all doctors practising acupuncture are making a great commitment to the advancement of acupuncture medical treatment. The International Summit on Acupuncture is held every year in Sri Lanka, and it will be held this month as well. The event will be held at the Bandaranaike International Conference Hall. Approximately 1000 doctors, professors, and professionals from 40 countries who practise acupuncture will participate at the occasion. Dr. Prasad Deshapriya said that on this day, as a tribute to former President Jayewardene, Prof. Jayasuriya and Dr. Geethanjana Mendis, free treatment will be provided to low-income families and their members. Dr. Deshapriya expressed the hope that, although acupuncture treatment has been provided free to low-income individuals for many years, it is anticipated to be more widespread this time.