Title [Asia] Chinese Medicine
- 2014-12-30 14:12:18
Unique medical practices were initiated based on the cultural development around the Yellow River area, and a medicine system was formed through continuous development in China.
The birth of Chinese medicine should be considered along its civilization track. Unique medical practices were initiated based on the cultural development around the Yellow River area, and a medicine system was formed through continuous development in China. Even stories related to Chinese medicine can be found in their legends. As one of the most representative examples, a legendary god, Sinnong(神農), who was one of the Three August Ones among the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors, was told to judge whether certain herbs, fruits, seafood and so forth could be used as medication or food by trying each of them himself. Since his attempts to investigate each material’s property and find ways of detoxication may be regarded as a primitive type of medical practice, this story is connected with the origins of medicine. However, Hwangje(黃帝) is generally believed to be the actual originator of Chinese traditional medicine. Hwangje is also a legendary figure who was the very first progenitor of the Chinese people, and the first sovereign of the Five Emperors after the Three August Ones. According to Taepyeongeoram(太平御覽)』, he organized the art of medicine, made a record of the effects of medicinal materials, and enabled the symptom-based treatment of disease. Based on these records, he is remembered for having established the basis for clinical medicine and galenical pharmacy by posterity.
『Hwangjenaegyeong(黃帝內經)』, the oldest extant medical reference work in China, comprises two parts in 9 volumes, each with 81 sections: 「Somun(素問)」 describes the basis of traditional medicinal theory based on the theory of Yin-Yang and the Five Elements, while 「Yeongchu(靈樞)」 deals with physical therapy using acupuncture and the meridian system. Though 『Hwangjenaegyeong(黃帝內經)』 is not a complete type of professional medical reference work, it is considered an ancestor of medical reference works since it describes the basic system of traditional acupuncture and pathology.
Along with 『Hwangjenaegyeong』, 『Hwangjepalsibilangyeong(黃帝八十一難經)』 is another important medical reference work, which is said to have been written by Pian Que(扁鵲) during the Warring States Period. This book, titled 『Nangyeong(難經)』, describes medical theory and treatment in a simple question-and-answer format. Notably, practical methods and the theory of pulse reading to diagnose and treat diseases from a scientific viewpoint are described in detail, suggesting that a fairly well developed system of treatment appeared in China during this era. Meanwhile, 『Sanghanjapbyeongnon(傷寒雜病論)』, which appeared during the Eastern Han Dynasty, was the very first medical reference written by an actual person, and the first textbook of clinical medicine. Zhang Zhong Jing(張仲景, 150?~219?), the book's author, is called the "Saint of Medicine" in China. This book is a compilation of herbal prescriptions with the emphasis on decoction, and includes a systematized theory of clinical medicine in which different prescriptions are applied according to a diagnosis based on the patient’s symptoms.