You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Traditional Medicine

Culture of Tcm

In addition, the earliest existing book on Chinese herbal medicine, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Ben means root and Cao means shoot), was written in the same period based on the work of medical experts who collected lots of materials before the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC). The book recorded 365 types of medicine, some of which is still used in contemporary clinics, and also set up a beginning of the establishment of Eastern medicine.

Another book, Febrile and Other Diseases, written by Zhang Zhongjing in the third century, gave a detailed account on how to diagnose and treat various diseases caused by internal organs. This book is meaningful in that it helped the development of clinical medicine many centuries later.

By the time of the Han period, surgery had reached a comparatively high level. The book, San Gou Zhi (Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms) described a doctor named Hua Tuo who was able to use general anesthesia to carry out operations.

From 220 to 960 China experienced the periods of the Wei (220-265, and part of the larger Three Kinggdom Period from 220 to 280) and Jin (265-420) dynasties, the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-589), the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, and the Five Dynasties (907-960). During these times, the method of diagnosing by feeling the pulse made further progress.

During the Jin Dynasty, a doctor named Wang Shu wrote the book, Mai Jing (Pulse Classic), in which he summed up 24 ways to monitor a pulse. The book had great influence in China and beyond.

In the same period, Chinese medicine was categorized and new books were written for those specific categories. In acupuncture, for example, there was the book Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (Acupuncture & Moxibustion); the books Bao Bu Zi and Zhou Hou Fang showed how to make pills for immortality; and in pharmacy, there was Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun (Lei's Treatise on Preparing Drugs). A well-known surgery book at the time was called Liu Juan Zi Gui Yi Fang (Liu Juanzi's Remedies Bequeathed by Ghosts).

In the Tang Dynasty, the economy prospered, which boosted the eastern medicine. The Tang government wrote the book, Tang Ben Cao, which is the earliest existing pharmacopoeia book (an official book listing a catalog og medicine and their use) in the world. This book included 850 types of medical herbs and their pictures, which further improved the scale of eastern medicine.

Then, in the period of the Song Dynasty, (960-1279) a person named Wang Wei Yi adopted new methods in teaching acupuncture. He illustrated his techniques with maps and models of human figures.

Among the medicines produced by different Chinese nationalities, the medicine of the Han is the earliest and richest in practical and theoretical knowledge.

Chinese medicine originated in the Yellow River basin and was established as a school of science early on.

Chinese history once told a fiction of a person named Shen Nong who tasted many herbs at the same time and was then poisoned. It demonstrates what difficulty ancient Chinese people had in discovering the medicines. However, Chinese medicine progressed, and in the process of its development, many good doctors, theories, and advancements emerged.

During the period from around 22 century BC to 256 BC (during the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties), alcohol medicine and soup medicine appeared.

Records related to medical treatment, hygiene, and illnesses appeared on oracle bone inscriptions as far back as the Shang Dynasty (16-11th century BC) over 3,000 years ago.

In the following Zhou Dynasty (11th century-256BC), doctors learned new techniques to diagnose diseases. These techniques, now known as the four major methods, include: observation, auscultation (listening to sounds of the body, such as those form the heart, lungs, and so on) and olfaction (smelling), interrogation (asking the patients questions), and pulse feeling and palpation (examining by touch). Doctors used several procedures -- including drugs, acupuncture, and operations -- to treat diseases.

A book, Shi Jing (The Book of Songs) in the Zhou Dynasty (11th century-771 BC), mentioned something about medicine, making it the earliest existing book bearing records of ancient Chinese medicine. Another book, Nei Jing, which is the earliest existing book on Chinese medicine theory, presented theories like "cooling or warming the patient that has a high or low temperature respectively," "adding five flavors into the medicine will make one feel bitter inside and have diarrhea." These formed the basis of Chinese medicine theory.

In the Qin and Han period (221BC-220AD) the new book, Huang Di Nei Jing (The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor), began to discuss Chinese medicine theories systematically. This is the earliest existing book of its kind.

In the Ming Dynasty, (1368-1644) doctors began to distinguish between typhoid fever, seasonal epidemics, and plagues, with a book in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) focusing exclusively on this topic.

Also in the Ming Dynasty, an expert of herbal medicine Li Shizhen spent 27 years accomplishing the book, Ben Cao Gang Mu. The book recorded 1,892 types of herbal medicine, including the most types of herbal medicines, making it the greatest book in Chinese history.

It was during the Ming Dynasty that Western medicine began to be introduced to China. People in medical science then began to combine Eastern and Western medicine. This endeavor has continued to this day, with the current Chinese medicine reflecting this progression.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, plenty of researches have been done in various fields such as botany, identification science, chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical medicine. These researches have provided a scientific basis to identify the source and authenticity of herbal medicines as well as their function scheme. Later, a nationwide survey was done on the source of the medicine, which helped produced the book, Zhong Yao Zhi in 1961.

In 1977, the Herbal Medicine Dictionary was publicized, which brought the number of recorded herbal medicine to 5,767. In addition, reference books, treatises, newspapers, and magazines on Chinese medicine were publicized. Also, institutions on scientific research and the teaching and production of Chinese medicine were established.

Page 1 of 1    1 

Basic Theory of Chinese Medicine
The basic theory of Chinese medicine attempts to explain the nature of life cycle and disease changes. It includes five theories: Yin and Yang, the five elements, how to direct one's strength, zangfu, and channels.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese herbal medicine aims to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases. It mainly consists of natural medicines and processed ones, namely medicines made from herbal, animal, mineral, and some chemical and biological substances.

Page 1 of 1    1 

Quick Navigation

New Article