Today Chinese medicine is a set of medical theories and practices developed over a period of more than three thousand years in China and Eastern Asia. Historical evidence suggests that an exchange of medical ideas, medicines & practices took place between numerous countries including Middle Eastern, Indian, Mongolian & Tibetan cultures, dating back thousands of years influencing what we now call Chinese medicine. The primary modalities used in Chinese medicine now are herbal medicine, acupuncture, diet, exercise & meditative practices.
The origins of Chinese medicine are shrouded in mystery as, the further one looks back, the less one finds. Time, the elements and political turmoil have taken their toll on the evidence of Chinese medicines past. Surviving texts & engravings do however cast some light on the earliest history, demonstrating a fascinating relationship between man and the 'spirit world'. 'Wu' Shamans were consulted on all manner of human concerns including health issues. Like so many other ancient cultures, a shamans role was to consult with spirits for guidance, in China these were mainly ancestral spirits - deceased parents & predecessors. Today ancestor worship is still, one of the most prominent of Chinese rituals.
With time the concept and practice of consulting and appealing to ancestors as a means of medical intervention changed towards a more material view - a keen observation of nature and natural phenomena. Philosophical systems, mainly Taoism, provided a framework on how to live in accordance with natural laws and, by so doing, health & longevity was the reward.
Nature & the universe became a road map about the 'right way' of living in the world and also, a window into the mysteries of the nature of man himself. Many discoveries affecting the development of medicine came from an acute observation of nature, for example, certain plants that bore a resemblance to man or a body were presumed to have properties that would benefit man or, the corresponding body part. Perhaps the most famous example is Ginseng or Ren Shen - literally meaning 'man root'. Similarly, nature observation influenced theories about the structure & function of the human body and, theories and methods of acupuncture treatments.
Article by David Brown ph 55312136 2 Walter St Southport 4215 [more sections to come]