Chinese Medicine

Essay by Jim WattsCollege, UndergraduateB+, April 1997

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Traditional medicine of China has a long historical and cultural background dating back about 2500 years. The ancient Chinese people were able to reach a level of social stability that included the ability to treat disease of emotional, physical, and spiritual origins. Although a belief in spirits as the cause of disease has remained in China even to the present day, the view that the body obeyed a natural order struck a chord in the intellectual elite of ancient China. It was this elite class that refined and developed these ideas over many centuries.(1)

The ideas that the ancient Chinese had about the organs of the body, and their functions, as well as the causes and development of disease, show large differences when compared with Western medicine.(2)

The Chinese do not think of theory, as we do in the West, as needing to be proven to reach the highest degree of truth.

A Chinese doctor can look at the kidney as a machine and think of it as a reflection of universe.(2) He can apply two different disease classification systems, cold damage or warm damage where he feels it is appropriate, without being deterred by contradictions between the two.(3)

One (Western) method of gaining knowledge is analysis. It is the method of breaking things into component parts to understand the whole. This method has been applied in China, but not to the same level as in the West. Analysis is one of the important features of all western modern science and technology. In fact, the analytical approach is the basis of western medicine, and it is part of the Western mindset.(4)

Analysis is not as important to Chinese medicine as in the West. The ancient Chinese did use analysis in their investigation of the human body, but to a...