Chinese medicine is diverse and highly adaptable. No surprise–as it is estimated to be around 3-5 thousand years old. To begin to understand and appreciate Chinese Medicine we must delve a bit into the history and philosophy during the time the medicine was developing. Don’t worry, my goal here is to give a brief overview–not to write a text book–consider it a crash course.
A Brief Look At The History of Chinese Medicine
Chinese medicine is estimated to be about 3-5 thousand years–likely the latter, as verbal passing of knowledge would have predated any written text. Huang Di (The Yellow Emperor), who was believed to have lived from 2697-2597 BC, is considered the father of Chinese medicine as he is credited with the writing the Huang Di Ni Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine)–the founding text of Chinese medicine.
Like any other culture, the books, information and creations reflect the beliefs and theories of the era. During the rise of Chinese medicine the dominate philosophy was Taoism, the teachings of Lao Tzu (400 BC) chronicled in The Tao De Ching (Book of The Way). The term Tao literally translates as “the way” or “the path” and is considered the ultimate principle and the creative force behind everything that is manifested in the world–including what is going on in our bodies. On a side note, I love Ursula LeGuin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching.
Tao is that state that exists before there is duality (Yin and Yang), before night and day, heaven and earth, hot and cold. The ultimate nature of Tao itself is difficult to grasp because our minds are inherently dualistic. We understand what is hot by knowing what is cold. We understand light by knowing […]