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Taoism and Medicine

Due to its main aim at longevity, Chinese Taoism has paid a special attention to medicine. Taoist medicine covers various aspects such as methods to keep in good health, therapeutics, materia medica and medical knowledge. Regretfully, it has witchcraft elements such as spell and conjuration.

In order to get longevity, Taoists have done a comprehensive research on medicine. They tried to prolong their lives by taking more medicine than food. The raw materials they used for medical purpose consist of plants, metals and minerals, etc. They processed them into pills or powder (they called it as San), and took them with honey or wine. Prescriptions of the kind have been found and classified into several grades in many of ancient Taoist works. Frequently, they use deadly poisonous elements such as mercuric sulfide as raw materials. The misapplication of such materials may cause death to people who take it. Examples are not rare in history, and it was reported that as many as seven emperors died from this misapplication just in the Tang Dynasty alone. However, modern chemistry has benefited a lot from it.

In Taoist medicine, the most valuable aspect is its methods to build up the health. According to their own theory, Taoists have created a kind of gym, i.e. the Taiji boxing (traditional Chinese shadowboxing). It has spread all over the world as a very famous boxing.

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