Ancient Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine was an effort made by several people which contributed to the advancement in this field. The Book of Rites, a manual for ceremonies written in the Zhou dynasty (1100 BC -256 BC), records the court physicians' division of medical teaching into internal medicine, surgery, nutrition and veterinary practice. The Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine, which appeared during the Warring States period (475- 221 BC), systematically presented what was known in China of physiology, pathology, diagnostics, treatment and preventive medicine. Bian Que, a noted doctor at that time, was the first man in the world to use the pulse for diagnosis. In the first century came Shen Nong's Cannon on Materia Medica, China's earliest book on pharmacology compiled systematically. Hua Tuo was also a famous doctor in the 2nd century, that applied an anesthetic powder in abdominal surgery.
The Chinese believed that disease could be cured by the restoration of harmony and balance between the five basic elements of earth, water, fire, wood and metal.
They also believed that all human beings were made up of two sorts of energy, Yin and Yang, which together with blood constituted the vital substance which circulated the body. Yin is dark, moist and female while Yang is masculine, light and dry. Illness was caused by an imbalance between Yin and Yang. Balance could be achieved by methods such as acupuncture which were used to control the flow of energy within the body. Another method used in Chinese medicine was moxibustion. This involved placing a cone of Moxa (the powdered leaves of the Mugwort plant) on particular acupuncture points letting them think of other things and forget their addictions. This was believed to increase the amount of Yang in the body which was needed for health.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been practised in Asia for over 5,000 years. It is not surprising, therefore, that between 65 to 80 percent of the world's health care services are classified as "traditional medicine." The philosophy behind TCM is holistic health care, from diagnosis to treatment to maintenance. TCM works to regenerate the organ functions in one's body. Health is restored by bringing the bodily functions into balance and activating and increasing the body's natural immune system.
In excess of 5,000 Chinese herb have been categorised and classified according to the various properties which they contain. Over the years, more than 25,000 formulas were created and refined for specific types of infections, illnesses and diseases. These formulas are specific combinations of herbs; most of them discovered over a thousand years ago. These combinations became necessary and more complex as experience showed that some herbs cancelled out the effect of other herbs. It was also discovered that the medicinal properties of many herbs required certain other herbs to be present to act as a catalyst.
The healing power of the ingredients found in these natural herbal formulas has never been doubted by most Asians. The difficulty in utilising many of these ancient formulas has been determining which formulas work with the individual person. TCM describes a formula based upon the individual being treated as opposed to Western practices where treatments and preventatives are tested for their effectiveness on a group of people.