History of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Last Update: 2008-8-13 7:25:00; By noswald

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Traditional Chinese Medicine
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Medical science is an important part of traditional Chinese culture. For thousands of years, traditional medical science has made great contribution to the Chinese nation, and is famous for it's obvious efficacy, unique treatments, systemic theories and abundant data. It has also contributed to health care and knowledge in all nations of the world. Traditional Chinese medicine continues to grow strongly and quickly, building on it's one thousand year historical superiority.

The first developments in traditional Chinese medical science can be dated back to ancient times where discoveries that certain foods could ward off disease or pain gave people the first tools to fight back against nature. These are the first example of applied Chinese medicine.  Also at this time, people foudn that pain could be eased by warming themselves with heated rock or sand, which is the origin of moxibustion. And perhaps most famously of all, acupuncture originated in these times when people discovered when working with stone that stimulation of one part of the body led to positive effects elsewhere.

The cornerstones of traditional Chinese medical science are as follows:

  • The Theory base: Yin and yang thoughts and the Five Elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth).
  • The Functional Base: jingluo (vital energy circulation and regulation of bodily functions), internal organs, function of vital energy and blood condition.
  • The Disease-causing factors: Emotional factors (joy, anger, melancholy, brooding, sorrow, fear and shock) and imbalance in Yin and Yangare considered to be the internal diseases-causing factors. 
  • Diagnosis: The main diagnosis methods are observation, auscultation and olfaction, interrogation, pulse feeling and palpatation detection.
  • Treatment: Treatment methods are based on prescribing medicine and performing acupuncture, massage and qigong (a system of deep breathing exercises)


Following on from those ancient discoveries, the development of Chinese medical science began in earnest with the publication of the Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, which formed thethe basic theory system. In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, principles of treatment in Chinese medicine were id out in the book of Shanghan zabinglun, which was written by Zhang Zhongjing. From these seminal texts the theory and practice of Chinese medical science as we now know it began and continues to develop even in modern times.

Chinese medical science dialectics is the bridge between theory and practice of Chinese medical science. The so-called Zheng is a combination of symptoms and signs, and a clinical presentation of diseases, which could include jaundice, rib pains, heat, bitter in mouth, yellow urine, coating of the tongue, for example.   

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