Development of Chinese Medicine

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. In the process of its development, many good doctors, theories and advancements emerged.

Records related to medical treatment, hygiene and illnesses appeared on the oracle bone inscriptions as far back as the Shang Dynasty over 3,000 years ago. In the following Zhou Dynasty, doctors learned new techniques to diagnose diseases. These techniques, now known as the four major methods, include: observation, auscultation and olfaction, interrogation, and pulse feeling and palpation. Doctors used several procedures to treat diseases including drugs, acupuncture and operations. In the Qin and Han period (221 BC - 220 AD) the new book, The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, or Huang Di Nei Jing, began to discuss Chinese medicine theories systematically. This is the earliest existing book of its kind. 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, Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, or San Guo Zhi, described a doctor named Hua Tuo who was able to use general anesthesia to carry out operations.

From 220 AD to 960 AD China experienced the periods of the Wei Dynasty, the Jin Dynasty, the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and the Sui, Tang and Wudai Dynasties. During these times, the method of diagnosing by feeling the pulse made further progress. In the period of the Jin Dynasty, a doctor named Wang Shu wrote the book, Pulse Classic, or Mai JingŁ¬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 Acupuncture & Moxibustion, or Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing; books Bao Bu Zi and Zhou Hou Fang showed how to make pills for immortality; in pharmacy, there was Lei's Treatise on Preparing Drugs, or Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun. A well-known surgery book at the time was called Liu Juanzi's Remedies Bequeathed by Ghosts, or Liu Juan Zi Gui Yi Fang.

Then, in the period of Song Dynasty, (960 AD-1279 AD) a person named Wang Wei Yi adopted new methods in teaching acupuncture. He illustrated his techniques with maps and models of human figures. In the Ming Dynasty, (1368 AD-1644 AD) doctors began to distinguish between typhoid fever, seasonal epidemic and plague. In the Qing Dynasty, a new book focused exclusively on this topic.

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 and today's Chinese medicine reflects this progression.