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Origin and Development of Chinese Medicine (part 1)

"Tao and Dharma - Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda"  Robert Svoboda and Arnie Lade


"A fundamental tenet of the Chinese system of medicine is that the human body-mind-

spirit continuum is an integrated whole, and that the individual is linked to a greater ma-

crocosmic entirety through a progressive continuum from family, society, environment, and ultimately, the universe.  From this perspective, the manifestatiion of disease is viewed as the outcome of an imbabalnce originating within oneself or in one's relation-

ship to external reality.  Conversely, health is a state of both internal and external har-

mony.  Chinese medicine has since antiquity provided a clear description of these ideas,

formulated principles for understanding their relationships, and developed unique thera-

pies to correct imbalance.


The origins of Chinese medicine are clouded by the mists of time.  Descriptions of some

aspects of early medical practice in China are found in the 'Historical Memoirs' (Shi Ji),

which is the first book in a series of dynastic records written about 500 B.C., wherein the various forms of diagnostic procedures of pulse study, inspection of the tongue and methods for questioning are discussed, as well as the threrapeutic modalities of acupunc-

ture, moxibustion, massage, remedial exercise and the use of plant medicines.


The earliest medical text extant is the 'Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing)

first appearing in the latter part of the Warring States period (475 - 221 B.C.).  The Inner Classic, which is still highly regarded and studied in all the colleges that teach traditional

Chinese medicine, is a heterogenous treatise which includes a summation of the different

medical approaches and practices found at the time in China.  It covers numerous topics,

including the interpretation of disease, the psychology and pathology of the internal or-

gans, including an understanding that the heart is the center of the blood's circulation. 

Many varied and seemeingly opposed theories and practices, such as the Yin-Yang and Five Element doctrines, Taoism, Confucianism and shamanic healing, are all discussed.  The ancient authors clearly felt no need to synthesize all the various traditions, or to pro-

pagate just one doctrine.  Their effort was rather to attempt to reoncile opposing inter-

pretations.  This inclusion of sometimes antagonistic views and approaches is an early and enduring trait of Chinese Medicine."

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