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Origins and Development of Chinese Medicine (part 2)

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


"Subsequent works especially of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) laid the ground-

work for the system that has come down to us today.  Three texts of this period stand

out, the first being the 'Classic of Difficult Issues (Nan Jing) which elaborated and clari-

fied the theories of the Inner Classic, especially on the correspondences and used of the

Five Element doctrine and on the use of the wrist pulse for diagnosis.  The second major

work, Discussion of Cold Induced Disorders (Shan Han  Lung), summarised the prevention and treatment of infections and febrile diseases, listing 370 prescriptions, while the third,

China's first materia medica, 'Shen Nong's Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao), recorded

365 different types of medicinal substances of plant, animal and mineral nature, noting their properties and effects.  Today, many such ancient texts are lost; nevertheless, there are more than 6,000 availalble texts recording the critical experiences and evolving

theoretical knowledge of Chinese medicine.


The Han Dynasty saw three great master-physicians: Zhang Ji who codified medical prac-

tices and wrote the above mentioned text, 'Discussion of Cold Induced Disorders'; Chung-

Yi, a famous doctor and master of pulse diagnosis; and Hua Tuo, a remarkable surgeon, ac-

cupuncturist and inventor of a unique gymnastic exercise.


The appearance of these great classics occured during the formative period of Chinese

medicine.  In this period Chinese medicine was taught and practiced systematically and was held in high esteem, gaining official sanction under the various emperors.  As far back as 165 B.C., the Chinese state regulated the licensing and education of physicians.

Fifty years later the first imperial university was established, teaching such sciences as

astronomy, hydrology and medicine.  By the 7th century A.D., most larger provincial cities had government-run colleges of medicine.  The golden age of Chinese medicine occured between the 4th and 10th centuries, when public apothecaries and hospitals were founded, an official pharmacopeia was composed, foreign ideas studied, new methods developed, and new treatises written.  It was during this colorful age that Chi-

nese medicine defined itself into the form in which, with only slight modification, we

see today."


































































































































































































































































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