Good Traditional Chinese History- Medicine Essay Example
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China is a land of exquisite food, handicrafts, medicines, games, and The Great Wall of China. Another thing that is an integral part of the Chinese people is the Chinese traditions. These traditions act as the core of Chinese culture. One of the prevalent and extremely successful traditions practiced by the Chinese for time immemorial is the Traditional Chinese Medicine. With a history of 2000 to 3000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness.
The Chinese people treat Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as not just a medicine but also as their religion and a way of life. TCM was in practice in China three thousand years before also. The early eastern cultures such as Confucianism and Taoism influenced the lives of the Chinese in many ways and TCM adopted the philosophy of yin and yang of Taoism. The great Chinese emperor Fu XI wrote an elaborate philosophical work named I-Ching. The principles of eight trigrams and sixty four- hexagons mentioned in it formed the basis of TCM. The TCM has also derived its concept of Yin and Yang, and the five elements of nature from I Ching. The dialogue and consultations of king Huan Di and his learned physician Qi Boi are also documented in a book called Huang Di Nei Jing also known as Huang Di Canon. The manual maintains that key to a happy and healthy life is to live in harmony and unison with nature. Many scholars claim that the book was the work of unknown learned physicians and not the dialogue of the king and his healer. Another meticulous and authoritative work - Shen Nong Ben Ciao Jing or Shen Nongs Canon on Materia Medica written and authored by medical physicians, has recorded data of 365 valuable healing herbs. Myth has it that Shen Nong, a farmer tested at least 100 poisonous/nonpoisonous herbs daily before recording their properties. Li Shi Zhen, a great emperor of the Ming dynasty researched and analyzed the value of various herbs for 27 years, often testing them on himself before systematically assembling them in his masterpiece book named Ben Cao Gan Mu- the encyclopedia of Materia Medica. The work is in two volumes with about 2000 sketches and 11000 instructions. It has on record the properties of about 1892 herbs, their administrative value, usage in healing and treatment of ailments.
The most prominent and predominant expertise in treatment of TCM was written by Zhang Zhong Jing, a physician of the Han dynasty who lived in 150- 219 AD. He wrote Shang Han Lun- the treatise on febrile diseases after witnessing the death of many people including his relatives in an epidemic. Modern hospitals in China use the system of diagnosis suggested in the book even 1700 years after his death. The book classifies ailments into “6 channels” that can be distinguished by reading the pulse of the patient. It acts as a guide to the Chinese doctor and enables him to select the kind of treatment suitable to the patient. During the second century AD, medical practitioners in China started penning down their latest discoveries. Hua Tuo, a great medical man of this time formulated and wrote about herbal anesthesia, the formula though, has been lost today. Nevertheless, his acupuncture system is used to this date. He maintained that qi- the life energy force flowing through our body was akin to a running stream that never goes bad and urged people to exercise regularly.
TCM is primarily a complementary alternative medical approach widely used in China but now spreading in the West also. TCM has a vast array of medical practices sharing common theoretical concepts that were developed in China. They date back to 2000 years and include different types of treatments. Acupuncture, Tui na, qigong, herbal and dietary regimes, being some of them.
TCM believes that the human body is a miniscule part of the vast cosmos. Its wellbeing depended upon the balance of two energies- the inner one, yin being the negative one and the outer yang, the positive one. Although the two are opposite, in nature, they complement each other and a disparity between them causes ailments. The scorching sun is the image of Yang energy and this provides the body warmth and liveliness. A water body is the image of Yin energy and this gives peace and relaxation to the body. TCM believe that Qi is another form of energy that flows through channels called meridians. This energy flows through 12 meridians of our body and they in turn correlate with six yin and six yang organs. All the channels further connect to eight meridians and this helps qi to flow freely and supply the nourishment, heat, and succor to various cells and tissues. There are many types of qi flowing through our body. When they become weak or blocked, deficiency sets in, and this could damage the organ itself. Qi flows in alignment with the blood and both of them work cordially to maintain a healthy body.TCM consider the 5 elements of nature –the fire, earth, wood, metal and water as symbolic representations of the various stages of human body and mind. Each element defines a specific side of the energy movement and relates to distinct organs of the body. According to Chinese medical theory, a healthy life is the perfect balance of these five elements.
TCM practitioners adopt different methods to diagnose the illness of the patients. They observe the patients’ condition of the skin, the sensory organs of the face and the excreta. The doctors try to gauge the sound and odor of the patient and interrogate them and their relatives regarding their ancestors, living conditions and their way of living. They are adept in diagnosing the ailment of the patient by noting the pulse condition on the radial artery.
Some of the treatments offered by TCM practitioners are herbal medicines, acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, Tai chi, Tui Na and Quigong. Acupuncture is a process of stimulating specific points on the body. These points act as gates to open and control the flow of qi. The scientifically studied technique involves the piercing of a thin needle into the skin by hand or by electrically controlled mechanism. Moxibustion is a process in which herbs burnt above the skin provide heat to acupuncture points. Acupressure involves the pressure of the thumb and massage instead of the needle. Tai Chi and Qi gong involve both mind and body movements and postures that focus on breathing and relaxation techniques. TCM practitioners use different parts of plants, minerals, metals, and even animal and human products. The traditional Chinese doctors blend them according to their formulae and give the patients in the form of tea, powder, capsule, liquid or granules. In Ancient opulent Chinese families, they had a room for childbirth named Artemisia room where a herb was burned to attract spiritual deities to bless both the mother and child. The herb enhanced their mood and kept them in a state of joy and wellbeing.
Research suggests that Acupuncture is quite a safe procedure if done by experts who use sterile needles. Evidence shows that patients with neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headache benefitted from this procedure. Tai Chi and Qi gong are safe as they improve balance and stability in patients. The herbal blending however needs more research as some of them may contain toxic metals and elements.
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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