Traditional Chinese Medicine
A medical science for the treatment and prevention of diseases by applying unique Chinese medical theories and prescription drugs that had been formulated as early as the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period (770-221 B.C.). The Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic, the earliest Chinese medical book, was complied during this period, which laid down the theoretical basis for traditional Chinese medicine.
The Chinese medical science regards the human body as an organism with main and collateral channels at the core. It also regards the human being and other things in nature as combinations of the two opposites, yin and yang. The loss of balance between yin and yang gives rise to diseases, and to treat a disease is to readjust yin and yang and enhance resistance to it by dispelling the pathogenic influences. Diagnosis is done be observation, auscultation and smelling, questioning, and pulse feeling and palpation. Symptoms which tell whether an internal organ is affected by exogenous harmful factors and whether a disease is caused by cold or febrile factors or by the deficiency of vital energy to ward off diseases, as well as the dialectical relationship between yin and yang and the dialectics of the viscera, are used as the theoretical basis for clinical diagnosis.
Traditional Chinese painting, Peking Opera, and traditional Chinese medicine are known throughout the world as the three national treasures of China .
Traditional Chinese Pharmaceuticals
Traditional Chinese pharmaceuticals enjoy a venerated history, but the term itself was not coined until Western pharmaceuticals found their way into China . Modern Western pharmacology began to spread into China during the Ming-Qing interregnum, and was coexisting with traditional Chinese pharmacology in some major Chinese cities by the 1920s. The terms ¡°traditional Chinese medicine¡± and ¡°traditional Chinese pharmacology¡± are coined to distinguish traditional Chinese medical science from its Western counterpart.
Traditional Chinese pharmaceuticals are made from medicinal herbs and animals, and named after materials' names, medical effects, originality in growth, shapes, forms, and even the legends about them. Traditional Chinese pharmacology is major contribution China makes to humankind.
Channels and collaterals
Chinese medical scientists discovered the presence of channels and collaterals in the human body as early as 2,000 years ago. They believed that a complex network covers the entire human body. Just in the same way as rivers irrigate farmlands, this network supplies vital energy and blood to every part of the human body. Running vertically in the human body are 12 channels that are connected with numerous arteries and veins. These trunks, branch and fine channels combine to form the human body's system of channels and collaterals.
If the traffic in a certain channels or collateral is jammed, it can cause pain or ailment. If this ailing channel or collateral is treated with acupuncture or moxibustion, then the role of the channels or collateral in facilitating the vital energy can be brought into play, and the ailment cured.
They theory on channels and collaterals plays a vital part in making traditional Chinese medicine work in various fields in acupuncture and moxibustion, qigong, massage, and the diagnoses, treatment, and medication of both internal and surgical medicine.
Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Acupuncture and moxibustion were invented in China as means of medical treatment for more than 2,000 years. Acupuncture involves the insertion of needle tips into the skin at specific points for the purpose of treating disorders by stimulating nerve impulses. Moxibustion, or moxatreatment, is performed by burning small cones of dried wormwood plant (Artemisia moxa)on certain points of the body, generally the same points as those used in acupuncture. Both acupuncture and moxibustion are designed to achieve the purpose of medical treatment by making sensible choice of points on the human body according to the traditional Chinese medical theory on channels and collaterals. The two methods are often used together, and that is the same breath. They are definitely a precious medical heritage of China .
Developed on the basis of the clinical practice of killing pain b acupuncture, the technique of acupuncture anaesthesia is now used on more than 100 surgeries.
Also known popularly as ¡°cup pulling¡± and ¡°suction cups¡±, cupping is a unique old means of medical treatment that has been around for a long time in China . In the very beginning, the cups were bullhorns smoothed and perforated with tiny holes to be used to draw pus form an ailing part of the human body. Later bullhorns were gradually replaced by cups made of bamboo, pottery and glass, and the use of the ¡°cupping¡± technique was gradually developed from the treatment of ulcers to rheumatic diseases, psoatic strain, headache, dizziness, and colds. Cups are vacuumed so that they are attached tightly to the human body to cause it to be engorged to achieve the medical purpose. Simple and easy, and often with good results, the cupping technique has been handed down from generation to generation, and remains very much in use today.
Medicinal pillows were long in use in traditional Chinese medicine. Modern medical science has proved that the efficacious ingredients of the medicinal herbs stuffed into such pillows can volatilize, penetrate the acupuncture points and be absorbed by skin or mucous membrane to cure a disease.
Natural herbal or animal medicines are mixed according to a formula designed for the treatment of a certain disease before they are stuffed into a medicinal pillow. A pillow filled with the mixture of buckwheat husk and silkworm increment ahs a good cooling effect; a pea-filled pillow helps cure sunstroke and dizziness; and a pillow stuffed with white chrysanthemum, pea skin, buckwheat husk, mulberry leaves and cassia seeds is used for the treatment of eye diseases.
The medicinal pillow comes handy as a medical aid. When one falls asleep with his head on such a pillow, his nose, tongue, skin and acupuncture points can absorb the essence of what is stuffed in it to prevent or cure disease or protect his health.
Ginseng, reputedly the ¡°king of a hundred herbs¡±, has been regarded as the ideal tonic since ancient times. A ginseng looks very much like the human body as it is complete with a head and limbs.
Ginseng today is either collected from the wilderness or cultivated. The changbai Mountain in northeast China produces the best wild ginseng in this country. It grows rather slowly, and it generally takes several decades or more than a century for it to grow up. The Changbai Mountains in Fusong Coounty , Jilin Province, made the headline in 1981 when a rare mountain ginseng, 287.5 gram in weight and 54 cm in length, was dug up from a local forest-believed to have been there for more than a century, it is regarded as a most precious treasure.
Wild ginseng is difficult to come by today, and it is too expensive to meet the market demand. That is why the Chinese were already cultivating ginseng some 300 years ago.
The medicinal value of ginseng was not lost on our ancestors, Sheng Nong's Herbal Classic, the earliest medicinal book in China , has this to say: Ginseng is efficacious for strengthening the heart, stabilizing the nerve system and the mind, stopping shock, improve the level of intelligence, and extend the life span. In his Compendium of Materia Medica, the celebrated Ming-dynasty herbalist Li Shizhen pointed out that ginseng is highly effective in replenishing the human body's vitality, making the old look young, and saving life from the brink of death. All in all, ginseng is an ideal tonic.
Caterpillar Fungus (Cordyceps Sinesis)
A native product of Qinghai Plateau, the caterpillar fungus is known as ¡°Winter Insect and Summer Grass¡±. As the name suggests, it is an insect hibernating in frozen soil in winter, and when summer begins to set in in late May and people begin to gather it a grass has grown out of its head.
The caterpillar fungus is actually a kind of Claviceps purpurea. The ¡°winter insect¡± is actually the larva of a moth, and the ¡°summer grass¡± is a parasitic fungus living in the head of the insect. In China there are 20 or so varieties of fungi living on or in the body of an insect, and caterpillar fungus is one of them.
The caterpillar fungus grows in the meadow on the shady or semi-shady side of a mountain at an altitude of 3,500-5,000 meters. In winter, the larva is frozen solid in the soil and becomes very fragile, and it wakes up and begins to crawl about when the temperature rises. The larva has developed an unusual resistance against hunger: it can survive for 119 days without eating in a congenial atmosphere.
The caterpillar fungus is a precious traditional Chinese medicine of a sweet and warm nature. It is used for the treatment of cough and asthma, anaemia, asthenia and the deterioration of the organs.
Northeast China is known for its three treasures. Pilose Antler, a precious medicine, is among them. The other two are ginseng and marten pelt. But pilose antlers, which are so tendr it has not ossificated and filled with blood capillaries, grow only on young stags and they are covered with down-like hair. A young stag grows its first pair of antlers when it turns two; and they are good enough to be cut in the third year. Spring and summer are the seasons for collecting pilose antlers. Another pair of antlers shall grow where the first pair were cut, which means a young stag has to endure the painful and bloody experience once a year. There are cases in which a stag has its antlers cut twice a year; and those cut in winter is know as ¡°snow flake pilose antlers¡± which are very precious among all Chinese medicinal materials.
The Chinese came to know the medicinal value of pilose antlers as early as 2,000 years ago. In his Compendium of Materia Medica, the celebrated Ming Dynasty herbalist Li Shizhen pointed out that pilose antlers promote the secretion of marrow and other body fluid, preserve blood and increase the sexual potency, and strengthen the physique. It provides ideal cure for physical weaknesses, and helps extend one's life span.