Much of the philosophy of traditionalChinese Medicine derived from the same philosophical bases that Taoist and Buddhist philosophies are based on, and reflects the classical Chinese belief that the life and activity of individual human beings have an intimate relationship with the environment at all scales. It has also been noted that early traditional Chinese medicine stemmed from Taoist masters who had an extraordinary sense of the body and its workings through their many hours of meditation. This may be why TCM also inherited many of the principles inherent to Daoism (Taoism).
During the golden age of his reign from 2698 to 2596 B.C, as a result of a dialogue with his minister Qibo, the Yellow Emperor is supposed by Chinese tradition to have composed his Neijing Suwenor Inner Canon: Basic Questions, also known as the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon). The book’s title is often mistranslated as Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. Modern scholarly opinion holds that the extant text of this title was compiled by an anonymous scholar no earlier than the Han dynasty just over two-thousand years ago.
During the Han Dynasty (202 BC –220 AD), Zhang Zhongjing, the Hippocrates of China, who was mayor of Chang-sha toward the end of the 2nd century AD, wrote a Treatise on Cold Damage, which contains the earliest known reference to Neijing Suwen. Another prominent Eastern Han physician was Hua Tuo (c. 140 – c. 208 AD), who anesthetized patients during surgery with a formula of wine and powdered hemp. Hua’s physical, surgical, and herbal treatments were also used to cure headaches, dizziness, internal worms, fevers, coughing, blocked throat, and even a diagnosis for one lady that she had a dead fetus within her that needed to be taken out. The Jin dynasty practitioner and advocate of acupuncture and moxibustion, Huang-fu Mi (215 – 282 AD), also quoted the Yellow Emperor in his Jia Yi Jing, ca. 265 AD. During the Tang dynasty, Wang Bing claimed to have located a copy of the originals of the Neijing Suwen, which he expanded and edited substantially. This work was revisited by an imperial commission during the 11th century AD.
There were noted advances in Chinese medicine during the Middle Ages. Emperor Gaozong (r. 649–683) of the Tang Dynasty (618–907) commissioned the scholarly compilation of a materia medica in 657 that documented 833 medicinal substances taken from stones, minerals, metals, plants, herbs, animals, vegetables, fruits, and cereal crops. In his Bencao Tujing (‘Illustrated Pharmacopoeia’), the scholar-official Su Song (1020–1101) not only systematically categorized herbs and minerals according to their pharmaceutical uses, but he also took an interest in zoology. For example, Su made systematic descriptions of animal species and the environmental regions they could be found, such as the freshwater crab Eriocher sinensis found in the Huai River running through Anhui, in waterways near the capital city, as well as reservoirs and marshes of Hebei.
Contact with Western culture and medicine has not displaced TCM. While there may be traditional factors involved in the persistent practice, two reasons are most obvious in the westward spread of TCM in recent decades. Firstly, TCM practices are believed by many to be very effective, sometimes offering palliative efficacy where the practices of Western medicine fail or unable to provide treatment, especially for routine ailments such as flu and allergies, or when Western medicine fails to relieve patients suffering from chronic ailments. TCM has been shown to be effective in the treatment of chronic, functional disorders, such as migraines and osteoarthritis, and is traditionally used for a wide range of functional disorders. Secondly, TCM provides an alternative to otherwise costly procedures whom many can not afford, or which is not covered by insurance. There are also many who turn to TCM to avoid the toxic side effects of pharmaceuticals.
TCM of the last few centuries is seen by at least some sinologists as part of the evolution of a culture, from shamans blaming illnesses on evil spirits to “proto-scientific” systems of correspondence; any reference to supernatural forces is usually the result of romantic translations or poor understanding and will not be found in the Taoist-inspired classics of acupuncture such as the Huang Di Nei Jing. The system’s development has, over its history, been analyzed both skeptically and extensively, and the practice and development of it has waxed and waned over the centuries and cultures through which it has travelled – yet the system has still survived thus far. It is true that the focus from the beginning has been on pragmatism, not necessarily understanding of the mechanisms of the actions – and that this has hindered its modern acceptance in the West. This, despite that there were times such as the early 18th century when “acupuncture and moxa were a matter of course in polite European society”
The history of TCM can be summarized by a list of important doctors and books.
Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng (Classic of Internal Medicine by Emperor Huang) – Sù Wèn & Líng Shū. The earliest classic of TCM passed on to the present.
Warring States Period (5th century BC to 221 BC): Silk scrolls recording channels and collaterals, Zu Bi Shi Yi Mai Jiu Jing (Moxibustion Classic of the Eleven Channels of Legs and Arms), and Yin Yang Shi Yi Mai Jiu Jing (Moxibustion Classic on the Eleven Yin and Yang Channels)
Eastern Han Dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) to Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 280 AD):
Zhen Jiu Zhen Zhong Jing (Classic of Moxibustion and Acupuncture Preserved in a Pillow) by Huà Tuó
Shang Han Za Bing Lun, also known as Shāng Hán Lùn (Treatise on Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases) by Zhāng Zhòngjǐng
Jìn Dynasty (265-420): Zhēn Jiǔ Jiǎ Yǐ Jīng (Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) by Huángfǔ Mì
Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618–June 4, 907)
Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang (Emergency Formulas of a thousand gold worth) and Qian Jin Yi Fang (Supplement to the Formulas of a thousand gold worth) by Sūn Sīmiǎo
Wai Tai Mi Yao (Arcane Essentials from the Imperial Library) by Wang Tao
Song Dynasty (960 – 1279):
Tóngrén Shūxué Zhēn Jiǔ Tú Jīng (Illustrated Manual of the Practice of Acupuncture and Moxibustion at (the Transmission) (and other) Acu-points, for use with the Bronze Figure) by Wáng Wéi Yī
Emergence of Wenbing School
Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1368): Shísì Jīng Fā Huī (Exposition of the Fourteen Channels) by Huá Shòu
Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644): Climax of acupuncture and Moxibustion. Many famous doctors and books. Only name a few:
Zhēnjiǔ Da Quan (A Complete Collection of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) by Xu Feng
Zhēnjiǔ Jù Yīng Fa Hui (An Exemplary Collection of Acupuncture and Moxibustion and their Essentials) by Gāo Wǔ
Zhēnjiǔ Dàchéng (Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) by Yang Jizhou, a milestone book. 1601CE, Yáng Jì Zhōu.
Běncǎo Gāng Mù (Compendium of Materia Medica) by Lǐ Shízhēn, the most complete and comprehensive pre-modern herb book
Wen Yi Lun by Wu YouShing
Qing Dynasty (1644-1912):
Yi Zong Jin Jian (Golden Reference of the Medical Tradition) by Wu Quan, sponsored by the imperial.
Zhen Jiu Feng Yuan (The Source of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) by Li Xuechuan
Wen Zhen Lun Dz by Ye TianShi
Wen Bing Tiao Bian(Systematized Identification of Warm Disease) written by Wu Jutong, a Qing dynasty physician, in 1798 C.E.
Su Wen, chapter 3
Charles Benn, China’s Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty. Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-19-517665-0), pp. 235.
Wu Jing-nuan. (2005). An Illustrated Chinese Materia Medica, p. 5.
Needham, Joseph. (1959). Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth (Science and Civilization in China, Vol. III), pp. 645, 648-649.
Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China: Volume 6, Biology and Biological Technology, Part 1, Botany. (Taipei: Caves Books Ltd., 1986), pp. 174–175.
Schafer, Edward H. “Orpiment and Realgar in Chinese Technology and Tradition,” Journal of the American Oriental Society (Volume 75, Number 2, 1955): 73–89.
West, Stephen H. “Cilia, Scale and Bristle: The Consumption of Fish and Shellfish in The Eastern Capital of The Northern Song,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 47, Number 2, 1987): 595–634.
“It could be said that the theory of the 5 Elements, and its application to medicine, marks the beginning of what one might call ‘scientific’ medicine and a departure from Shamanism. No longer do healers look for a supernatural cause of disease: they now observe Nature and, with a combination of the inductive and deductive method, the set out to find patterns within it and, by extension, apply these in the interpretation of disease” – from an introductory textbook used by many acupuncture courses –Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, p.16. ISBN 0-443-03980-1.
Needham, Joseph et al. (2002) Celestial L
Source: Around China Title: 5000 year history of Chinese Medicine Year: 2008