Medicine of Ethnic Minority Groups

Chinese medicine consists of not only medicine of Han people, but also medicine of other ethnic groups. The ethnic minority groups, lived under different geographical locations and cultures, form the medicines with their own characteristics. These ethnic minority groups include Tibetan, Mongol, Uygur, Korean, Zhuang, Dai, Yi, Miao, Lahu, Oroqen, etc.

The current status of these medicines are different because of their different histories and cultures. For some ethnic groups, they not only have lots of treating methods in medicine, but also form theories. Others retain a few books scattering among the people. These books need to be sorted out. And there are still some ethnic groups who transmit their medicine orally.

For some ethnic minority groups, they adopt the medicine of Han and medicine from other countries when forming their own medicine. For instance, Tibetan medicine adopts contents of Han medicine and ancient India medicine. Mongolian medicine takes in contents of medicine in Han, Tibetan and Russia, etc.

Miao Medicine 
The Miao people think that six factors lead to diseases, poison, weakness, injury, overwork, bacterium and insect. They diagnose diseases by pulse feeling, observing facial color, inquiry, touching, beating, scraping, and pressing, etc. They think that by using these methods, they can diagnose the physical and mental abnormalities of the patients.

Sources of the Miao drugs come from plants, animals and some minerals. The characteristics of the drugs are divided into hotness, coldness, neither hot nor cold. Hot drugs are supposed to treat cold diseases and vice vesa. According to incomplete statistics, there are 1,500 common drugs and 200 commonly used drugs.

Sources of Miao drugs scatter in the Miao Mountain, Wu Meng Mountain, and Wu Ling Mountain where most Miao people live. Herbs for drugs have been distributed unevenly depending on the different geographical locations, geographical environment and different habit of making drugs. Some are commonly seen everywhere, such as Houttuynia, platycodon root, etc. Others only can be seen in certain areas or in places of high altitude, such as Usnea barbata. In recent years, many medicinal material planting places are set up in areas where most Miao people live. These places are established to plant some commonly used herbs such as gastrodia tuber, poria, and eucommia bark, etc. 

Zhuang Medicine 
A Brief Introduction of Zhuang Medicine
The Zhuang or Chuang nationality has the largest population among Chinese minorities. Its medicine had been gradually formed since the Tang Dynasty when some of the books then wrote down prescriptions on detoxification presented by people in this region. Medical books categorized this medicine as "Ling Nan medicine", which symbolized the formation of the Zhuang medicine as well as medicines of other minorities in south China. The Zhuang medicine made some development in the Ming and Qing dynasty (1368 A.D.1911 A.D.). During this period, it was recorded in the book, Compendium of Materia Medica (or Ben Cao Gang Mu) written by Li Shi Zhen and other books produced locally. In addition, there appeared some medical institutions and experts then.

The Zhuang Medicine was passed on orally without written record through its development. There are many prescriptions of Zhuang medicine scattering in the public. These prescriptions become a part of the Chinese medicine.

Features of Zhuang Medicine
The Zhuang medicine is not a fully developed system, part of which coming from native Zhuang medicine and part of which from the public. The Zhuang region is located in the sub tropical area with plenty of animals and plants. People there are said to eat wild animals such as mountain poultry, snake, and mouse. Therefore wild animals are used as ingredients of drugs.

Zhuang medicine is said to excel at detoxification. Zhuang drugs can cure many kinds of poisons, such as snake poison, insect poison, food poisoning, etc. The Zhuang can produce extraordinary good snake antidote. Zhuang people believe that any poison can be cured with certain antidote. It is also their belief that the poisons itself, when used in appropriate amount, can cure diseases. 

Korean Medicine 
ABC of Korean Medicine
The Korean medicine, regarding its own culture as the basis, have adopted some of the theoretical knowledge from the Han medicine and integrated it into practical experience. The Korean and Han people have, since ancient time, maintained exchanges in various aspects including the aspect of medicine. With some of the knowledge from Han, Korean people create their unique medicine in practice. The system matures in the course of time as they have proposed, both in theory and in clinic practice, the concept of "Si Xiang theory", initially illustrated in the book, Dong Yi Shou Shi Bao Yuan, which was written by a person named Li Ji Ma in the 19th Century.

Sources of Korean Medicine
There are mainly two sources in the Korean medicine, Han herbs and native Korean herbs.

With plenty of knowledge coming from the Han medicine, Koreans have used many of the Han prescriptions to prevent and treat diseases. One example is that all the 271 herbs mentioned in the Si Xiang medicine come from Han. So are many other books which have adopted Han prescriptions to a more or less degree, like Dong Yi Si Xiang Jin Kui Mi Fang which has selected 1,297 Han herbs, Guidebook of Han Medicine (or Han Fang Yi Xue Zhi Nan) which has written down more than 1,500 prescriptions from Han, Dong Yi Bao Jian which has recorded over 1,400 herbs in 15 categories and Compilation of New Prescriptions (or Zeng Bu Fang Yao He Bian) in which 515 kinds of herbs in 41 categories have been included.

Medicine of native Korean herbs has a long history. Since 1949, work has been done on a large scale in collecting and sifting the medicine of Korean herbs. In Korean prescription, the platycodon root with stewed hen has been helpful for curing gynaecological disease. And pubescent angelica root has been helpful to treat rheumatism. Medicines of this kind have accounted for most part of the Korean therapy. Apart from this, many prescriptions are scattered in the folk. Peucedanum root has been helpful to darken the hair and treat lumbago. And the powder of calcite has helped to stop bleeding and cure external injuries. 

Uygur Medicine 
Brief Introduction of Uygur Medicine
In ancient time, the district of Xinjiang belonged to the west area of China. In the Xi Han Dynasty (206 A.D.-25 A.D.), the establishment of the silk road, which went through the west region, stimulated the development of economy and exchange of culture. The eastern and western medicine gathered in Xinjiang, the hinterland of mid Asia, which stimulated the development of the local ethnic medicine. Therefore the Uygur medicine is one that, based on its own medicine, draws the quintessence of medicines from different regions and ethnic minorities and forms the medicine with its characteristics.

The Habit of Uygurs in Making Medicine
According to researches, there are about 600 kinds of Uygur medicines in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, about 360 of which are commonly used and 160 kinds of which are local products, which accounts for 27% of the total Uygur medicines.

In Uygurs medicine, fragrant herbs and rather poisonous herbs are both used. The most commonly used herbs are musk, ambergris, lilac, amomum cadarmomum and others. 

Mongolian Medicine 
Brief Introduction to Mongolian Medicine
The Mongolian medicine is said to be a traditional medicine that Mongolian people gradually formed in the history. It is historical and gathered plenty of contents. It is believed to be the summary of the Mongolian people in their struggle against diseases and is the crystallization of wisdom. It is said to be a scientific medicine with their ethnic characteristics. The Mongolian medicine is supposed to have the characteristics that it aims to use small amount of medicine to treat diseases, with less money, convenient and easy.

The Basic Theory of Mongolian Medicine
The Mongolian medicine uses the relations of "he yi", "xi la", and "ba da gan" roots to explain the physiological and pathological phenomenon in human body. The so-called "he yi" is believed to be the movement power of the physiology. The thinking, language, movement of body and internal organs are believed to be directed by it. The abnormality of "he yi" has led to the result that the normal status of internal organs diminish, manifesting that the mind is abnormal, sleeplessness and forgetfulness. "xi la" has the meaning of the so-called "hotness". The body temperature, the heat of the organs and spirit are said to be determined by "xi la". Too much "xi la" has manifested diseases like bitter taste in mouth, sourness or anxiety in mood. "ba da gan" is supposed to be a kind of sticky material in the body, having the nature of coldness.  The disorder of "ba da gan" has not only showed people with symptoms caused by cold factors, the liquidation also stop and there is more secretion.

Special Treatments of Mongolian Medicine
For phlebotomy, small veins are cut open for the release of "diseased blood", reaching the aim of treating disease or preventing disease. The phlebotomy treatment is for treating the diseases caused by hotness factors caused by blood or by "xi la", such as the proliferation of the wound, plague, oedema and abdominal distesion, gout, tuberculosis, etc. Such treatment has two steps, preparation before operation, and formal procedure of phlebotomy.

Cupping and Puncture
This external treatment is a mixed way for cupping and phlebotomy. The cup is placed on the diseased part, making it swollen. Then needles are used for stabbing the swollen part, cupping then for sucking the diseased blood. The movement of vital energy and the state of blood in the human body is improved and the disease is cured. This treatment is suitable for the fleshy part of the body instead of the bony one. It is said to have the characteristic of effectiveness, short-term period and without pain or danger.

The koumiss treatment is a dietary treatment. It is said to be able to make people strong and treat diseases such as shock or pain in the chest or in heart area. Studies find that koumiss is healthy for the body since it contains a great many elements such as sugar, protein, fat, vitamins, amino acid, lactic acid, enzyme, mineral substances, aromatic plants and others.

Mongolian Bone Setting
Mongolian bone setting is a treatment accumulated by medical experts through history which is said to be able to cure disease linked with fracture, joint dislocation, or soft tissue damage. The bone setting treatment is divided into six parts, renovation, fixing, massage, herbal bath, care and recovering. It has the function of releasing the poison and soothing the sinew and quickening the blood. 

Tibetan Medicine  

Brief Introduction to Tibetan Medicine
As part of Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine is gradually formed. It prevails in places where the Tibetan people live, such as Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu provinces in China. In India and Nepal in south Asia, it is also a major kind of medicine.

The Tibetan medicine originated in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in south-west China. It manifests the special feature in that region. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is located in a frigid zone. The poor transportation makes it difficult to connect with the outside world, thus retaining its feature. Since there is small variety of plants and animals living in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, most of the sources for the Tibetan medicine are from the cold resistant plants and animals. These plants and animals live in the high mountains where there is lack of oxygen.

Basic Theory of Tibetan Medicine
The Tibetan medicine has formed its own characteristic in the long process.

The theory of San Yin
According to Tibetan theory, there are three factors in human body, which are "long", "chi ba" and "pei gen". There are seven kinds of substances in human body, the essence of food, blood, flesh, fat, bone, etc. There are three kinds of excreta, urine, feces, and sweat. The three factors decide the changes of the seven substances and three excreta. In normal cases, they co-exist with each other and live in a balancing way. When one or more factors over react or diminish, the body will have disease in "long", "chi ba" and "pei gen". Therefore the patients need to be treated in the above three aspects to return to normal.

The concept of "long" refers to the power of movement. It is similar to the "feng" and "qi" in the traditional Han medicine, yet it is a broader idea than that. "chi ba" is translated as "dan" or "huo", similar to the "hotness" in Han medicine. The main features of "chi ba" is to maintain the normal temperature in the body, keep stomach functioning, etc. "pei gen" is something like saliva but more than that. It is related to all the liquidation inside the human body.

In Tibetan theory, disease occurs because the "long", "chi ba" and "pei gen" are not in balance, thus affecting the health of the body. So the aim of treatment is to make them in harmony again if they are overreacting or diminishing.

Human Anthropotomy and Physiology
Tibetans have a deep understanding of human anthropotomy and physiology. In Tibetan medicine, human body is believed to have internal organs consisting of the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys as well as stomach, gall, three visceral cavities, small and large intestines, and bladder. In ancient time, the Tibetan doctors used the relation of feudal monarchy as a metaphor to describe the function of the internal organs. For example, the heart was like a king sitting in the middle; the lung acted something like a minister, liver and spleen was sort of imperial concubine, and kidney was similar to the backbone, etc.

This showed that ancient Tibetan doctors had some knowledge of the human body.

Special Treatments of Tibetan Medicine

Emetic Measures
By emetic measures, patients are expected to take some medicine to induce vomit. The method can be used when there is too much food, or there is something wrong or poisonous in the stomach. As for contraindication, the elderly, the week, the pregnant, the children are not suitable for this method. If the poison is taken for too long, this method doesn't work either since the substance is supposed to get out of the body.

Medicated Bath
The medicated bath in Tibetan medicine has its special feature. Springs are often applied in this treatment, such as sulphur spring, aluminite spring, spring of dried dung of Trogopterus xanthipes, limestone spring, etc.

There are two kinds of medicated bath, water or medicine compress. For water bath, the above mentioned springs are suitable to treat the so called "hotness" either in the muscle or in the bone. The medicine compress treatment means packing the medicine ingredients, either compounded, cooked or boiled, into the bag before putting it on the diseased part of the body.