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History and Development of TCM (I)
Addtime:2016-11-02 13:52:42 Hit:516

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with a history of thousands of years, unique and integrated theoretical system, rich practical experience and good effect, has been making great contribution to Chinese people’s health care and the development of Chinese nation. It is a summary of the Chinese people’s experience in their struggle against diseases. Over the past few decades it has been attracting increasing attention from all over the world.


The formation of TCM theoretical system can be traced back to the period of Warring States and the Qin and Han Dynasties. During the long course of TCM development, the ancient medical experts took ancient Chinese philosophical thinking as the guide, constantly absorbing knowledge from ancient natural and social sciences. The compilation of Huangdi Neijing (Huangdi’s Canon of Medicine), Nan Jing ( Classic of Difficulties), Shanghan Zabing Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Diseases), and Shennong Bencao Jing (Shennong’s Classic of Materia Medica), known in TCM as the Four Great Classics, is the symbol of the primary formation of the theoretical system of TCM.


Huangdi Neijing, as the earliest and greatest medical classic extant in China, was completed by many medical experts in history. And so important is it considered that even at present, after thousands of years, it is still regarded as the most authoritative one in TCM. This work consists of two distinct books, i. e. Su Wen ( Plain Conversation) and Ling Shu ( Spirihual Pivot), each comprising ninevolumes. Thecontent of Huangdi Neijing covers the following aspects: the correspondence between man and nature, physiology and pathology of the human body as well as diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases. By applying the theories of yin-yang and the five elements, it has developed the therapeutic principles based on syndrome differentiation, seasonal changes, geographical localities and individual constitution.


Nan Jing was written approximately before the Han Dynasty and, according to legend, by Qin Yueren, also known as Bian Que. It deals mainly with the basic theory of TCM, including the knowledge of physiology, pathology, diagnostics and therapeutics. It has supplemented what was unaddressed in Huangdi Neijing in many respects, especially in pulse lore.


Shennong Bencao Jing, the earliest book on material medica in China, appeared approximately in the Han Dynasty with its authorship unknown. In this classic, 365 kinds of medicine are recorded, among which 252 are herbs, 67 are animal parts and 46 are mineral products. They are divided into three grades according to their properties and effects. Other content concerning pharmaceutics analyzed in this classic includes four properties (cold, hot, warm and cool), five flavors (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty), and seven conditions of ingredients in prescriptions (single effect, mutual reinforcement, mutual assistance, mutual restraint, mutual inhibition, mutual antagonism and mutual suppression).


Shanghan Zabing Lun was written by Zhang Zhongjing at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. In this book the rich experience on prevention and treatment of diseases before the Eastern Han Dynasty was summed up, diagnosis and treatment of cold and miscellaneous diseases mere dealt with respectively. This book symbolizes the establishment of treatment based on syndrome differentiation in TCM. It was later divided into two parts: Shanghan Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage) and Jingui Yaolve (Synopsis of Golden Chamber). Based on the Four Great Classics, medical experts in different dynasties further enriched and developed the theoretical system of TCM. Huangfu Mi in the western Jin Dynasty compiled Zhenjiu Jiayi Jing ( A-B Classics of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), which is the earliest extant works dealing exclusivesly with acupuncture and moxibustion. In 610, Chao Yuanfan compiled Zhubing Yuanhou Lun (Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of Various Diseases), the earliest monograph on etiology and symptomatology in China. In 657, Su Jing, together with 20 other scholars, compiled Xiuxiu Bencao (Newly-Revised Materia Medica), which is the first pharmacopoeia sponsored officially in China and the earliest pharmacopoeia in the world as well. Sun Simiao (581-682) devoted all his life to the writing of two great books: Beiji Qianjin Yaofang (Valuable Prescriptions for Emergency) and Qianjin Yaofang( Supplement to Valuable Prescriptions). In the Song Dynasty, more attention was paid to the educating qualified medical workers. In 1057, a special organization named “Bureau for Revising Medical Books” was set up in order to proofread and correct the medical books published in the previous dynasties. 

                                                                                                             To be continued...

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