History of Chinese Medicine  |  OCOM Library

 History of Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine has a written history that traces back more than 2,000 years and a growing scientific evidence base generated over the past 40 years. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal practice are grounded in the concept of qi (pronounced chee) — a concept which defines all living things and systems.

Qi flows along pathways in the human body and interconnects the organs, tissues and emotions of human beings. When the balance of qi is disturbed due to trauma, poor diet, medication, stress, hereditary conditions, environmental or psychological issues, pain or illness results. Chinese medicine focuses on correcting these imbalances and stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself with a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork and mindfulness practices.

Chinese medicine in Oregon arrived with the first Chinese immigrants in the 1800’s. In the early days, Chinese herbal remedies were the primary form of treatment available in the United States. Ing “Doc” Hay prescribed custom and patent formulas to clientele across the Pacific Northwest from his Kam Wah Chung Co. in John Day. 

After China reopened relations with the West in the 1970’s, Wai Tak Cheung and other acupuncturists migrated to Oregon to establish a profession, including legalizing the medicine with a practice act, forming professional associations and collaborating on OCOM’s early curriculum.

Today, Chinese medicine is used for preventative care, health maintenance and the treatment of various diseases. Most licensed acupuncturists work in individual private practices, while others work in public health programs, hospitals, multidisciplinary clinics, or group treatment settings.

  • The first practice act legislation for acupuncturists was enacted in 1973 in Oregon, Maryland and Nevada.
  • Today, 45 states (and the District of Columbia) have enacted practice acts. There are approximately 60 ACAOM-accredited acupuncture schools in the United States.
  • There are currently more than 28,000 licensed acupuncturists in the United States.
  • In the state of Oregon, licensed acupuncturists fall under the purview of the Board of Medical Examiners, which also oversees medical doctors.
  • Oregon currently has around 1,200 active licensed acupuncturists.
  • The average OCOM graduate in full-time practice sees 34 patients each week.
  • Each week, Oregon licensed acupuncturists provide an estimated 15,000 patient visits.
  • OCOM graduates have provided over 10 million patient visits since the college’s first class graduated in 1986.

We invite you to learn more about acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Visit the OCOM Library, attend one of our informational events, or get started today with maintaining your own personal health goals by making an appointment in one of OCOM's clinics. View our clinics' Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

 OCOM Library

The college’s library supports the learning, teaching, research, and information needs of the OCOM community, serving as an information resource on acupuncture and Chinese medicine to health professionals and to the public. Our library staff works to develop, maintain and provide relevant information resources and services.

OCOM is proud to have one of the most comprehensive acupuncture libraries in the United States. The college also subscribes to many of the major acupuncture and alternative medicine journals. 

Visit our collection in person, or access the collection online by using Primo, our search discovery tool. OCOM is a member of the Portland Area Health Libraries (PAHL) consortium, an interdisciplinary partnership between the libraries at OCOM, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, University of Western States, and Oregon Health and Science University. Using Primo, users can search the collections at all four libraries, and request materials be delivered to OCOM. Additionally, our Interlibrary Loan service provides users with access to any journals or books not normally available from the library's print or online collections.