Who Did What in Historical China: Healers and Medicine


In ancient China, sick men and women went to see a healer. Healers were being like physicians while thousands of decades ago, healers understood a lot less about the science of medication than we do these days. They sought the assistance of magical spirits the persons known as them “shaman”, “medication man” or “people doctor.” But about 1,100 a long time in the past, Chinese doctors commenced to go to healthcare faculty.

As civilization innovative, magic played fewer of a position in therapeutic.

In time, healers discovered various tactics that they used to aid their patients. They utilised strategies these kinds of as Tui Na’ (massage remedy) acupuncture moxabustion herbs nutrition Qigong (respiratory procedures and meditation) Tai Chi Chuan or other martial arts, Feng Shui (the follow of positioning objects based on yin and yang and the flow of chi or electricity) and Chinese astrology. This awareness was handed down from one era to the next.

Philosophies this sort of as Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, also affected Chinese medicine. The thought of yin and yang was section of the philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. Historical Chinese healers considered that nature was produced up of two opposing forces, yin and yang, which must be in harmonious balance for good wellbeing.

Yin and yang are cosmic energies or qi (chi). They reside in the universe and in the human overall body. Yin is unfavorable power: cold, dark and female. Yang is beneficial energy: gentle, warm and male. Even although they are opposites, yin and yang are inseparable. Every thing consists of yin and yang in different degrees but they were being section of an general unifying force, Tao. (Beshore, 1998, p. 11)

Visually, yin and yang are represented by a circle. Inside this circle are two curved kinds, 1 black and a single white, and both shaped like tadpoles. Yin and yang by no means exist independently however just one could be in excessive of the other. It is this imbalance that brings about sick-wellbeing.

If yin and yang are in stability or in harmony within just a individual, very good overall health prevails. But if the equilibrium is disturbed, the career of the Chinese healer is to restore harmony. Widespread solutions employed bundled the remedies mentioned formerly.

The Five Factors or the Five Zangs, was a different perception process which stated that everything is built of earth, wooden, drinking water, fireplace and metallic which are interrelated to every other and with human structure and perform. Human organs each have a corresponding factor: hearth, steel, water, wood, and earth. Illness signifies disharmony among the the things. So, a healer used the philosophy of the Five Factors by dealing with a patient primarily based on the aspect or components in discord. (Ross, 1982, p. 29 – 31)

Intricate philosophies this sort of as the doctrine of yin and yang and the 5 components grew to become the basis for diagnosing and managing health issues. In accordance to historians, these procedures dated again to the 6th Century BC.

The cosmos experienced to be taken into account when diagnosing a affected person. The stars, time of the calendar year and even the hour of the working day of the start off of the ailment, experienced to be determined ahead of therapy could start off. Drugs was needed.

Early alchemists, or chemists, combined several products alongside one another to form potions that could remedy people of several conditions. (Beshore, 1998, p. 15-17)

They used the principle of the five components to make and prescribe the medication. (Ross, 1982, p. 50)

Herb and other vegetation were being created into medicines. At times, animal and mineral aspects ended up also applied. A e-book on prescription drugs created in the sixteenth century lists in excess of two thousand substances made use of to make in excess of sixteen thousand medications. Historical Chinese medical professionals could not constantly make clear why so numerous of their drug potions worked, but they keenly observed the beneficial reactions of their people when the herbal medications succeeded.

All elements of an herb ended up employed together with the stem, seeds, leaves, fruit, and roots. Unique procedures have been made use of involving drying, roasting and soaking in water. Some herbs have been utilized in their natural state. Ginseng was especially popular due to the fact the ancient Chinese considered the root of the plant had magical characteristics for prolonging daily life.

They also utilised the ephedra plant which was esteemed for lessening too much bleeding and relieving coughing prompted by bronchial asthma. Medicines of animal origin were being also popular. The secretion of toads was applied for stimulation functions. Minerals like mercury and sulfur were being typically used in medication that proved productive for the cure of quite a few illnesses. For case in point, arsenic was utilized in an ointment for managing skin rashes and sores zinc sulfate was approved for bladder diseases.

Acupuncture is believed to have existed all through the Stone Age of China when flint needles made use of in acupuncture were uncovered. Shamans may have utilised acupuncture to drive demons from the human body of a unwell particular person. Throughout the Iron and Bronze Ages, flint needles ended up replaced by steel.

Acupuncture is a sort of therapy in which a single or extra needles are inserted into the patient’s skin. The needles penetrate the pores and skin in various depths and at a variety of meridians or factors of the entire body. Acupuncture restored the yin and yang to a well balanced condition inside of a patient’s body. The needles introduced an excessive of yin or yang based on which force was out of balance. Most sicknesses needed additional than a single cure of acupuncture.

Acupuncture has endured as a therapeutic art in China for far more than 3,000 a long time. Moxa or moxabustion demands the use of hearth in its place of needles. The healer or health care provider would pound the dried leaves of the mugwort plant and roll them on to a cone condition.

Many cones would be placed at particular places on the patient’s entire body and then ignited. The burning cones would be removed just just before the fire in fact touched the skin. Moxa caused an extreme stimulation of the blood and nerves in the areas taken care of, leaving a red location where the burning cone had been. Mugwort leaves were at some point replaced by mulberry leaves, ginger and monkshood.

Historical Chinese healers had been also interested in preventative drugs. Diet was regarded essential as were physical exercise and psychological serenity. They also created strategies to halt the spreading of condition. They ruined germs by burning a chemical that disinfected a deceased person’s home and steamed the outfits of ill individuals so that other folks would not get sick. They also designed a primitive sort of vaccination for smallpox. It wasn’t until finally the eighteenth century that Western medicine discovered the essential strategy of immunization towards sickness. (Beshore, 1998, p. 31)

The historic Chinese uncovered particular diagnostic tactics which had been not made use of in the West right up until hundreds of years later on. These methods involved: examining the patient’s pulse inspecting the patient’s tongue, voice and physique observation of the patient’s face and ear observation of the patient’s overall body for tenderness assessment of the vein on the index finger on small children and comparisons of the relative heat or coolness of various elements of the system. Common Chinese Drugs developed as a noninvasive therapeutic medicine rooted in historic belief programs and traditions.

Beshore, George. Science in Ancient China. New York: Franklin Watts, 1998

Ross, Frank, Jr. Oracle Bones, Stars and Wheelbarrows: Ancient Chinese Science and Technological innovation. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.


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