Yin Yang U
For more than 2,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been practiced using herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage ("Tui na"), exercise ("Gigong"), and a wide range of dietary therapies. Notably, practitioners within the People's Republic of China has taken great strides with integrating Traditional Chines Medicine with that modern interpretations of anatomy and pathology for well over fifty years.
The overarching concepts of the body and of disease can be traced to books such as "The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon" and the "Treatise on Cold Damage" which details principals under which the body's vital energy ("Chi" or "Gi") passing through "Meridians" that flows to bodily organs and functions, as well as the concepts of "Yin" and "Yang", as well as "Five Phases".
Interestingly, Traditional Chinese Medicine places very little emphasis on anatomical structure, and instead places primary emphasis on the identification of functional entities regulating the harmonious interaction of breathing, digestion, heart function, aging and other factors. Conversely, disease is interpreted as a disharmony within the framework of these same interactions.
In the realm of diagnosis, Traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis focuses on symptoms, so as to identify and treat underlying disharmony. This is often accomplished by measuring the pulse, thereafter inspecting the tongue, skin and eyes, as well as the eating and sleeping habits of the patient. These factors will be further discussed within each lesson module found in the Yin Yang University pages to follow.
Therapeudic Origin of Chinese Medicine in History
The therapeutic origins of Traditional Chinese Medicine date from the 14th to the 11th centuries B.C.E., concurrent with emergence of the Shang dynasty.
Shang did not have a concept of "medicine" as distinct from other fields, their oracular inscriptions on bones and tortoise shells refer to illnesses that affected the Shang royal family: eye disorders, toothaches, bloated abdomen, etc., which Shang elites usually attributed to curses sent by their ancestors.
There is no evidence that the Shang nobility used any type of herbal remedies. As of 1100 B.C.E., only dozens of drugs were known to be described and documented. By the end of the 16th century, the number of drug agents recorded is believed to have increased substantially, to over 1,900. And by the end of the last century, published records of CMM have reached 12,800 drugs."
Stone and bone needles found in ancient tombs led Joseph Needham to speculate that acupuncture might have been carried out in the Shang dynasty. However, most historians now make a distinction between medical lancing or bloodletting and acupuncture in the narrower sense of using metal needles to treat illnesses by stimulating specific points along "meridian" circulation channels in accordance with theories related to the circulation of Qi.The earliest public evidence for acupuncture in this sense dates to the second or first century BCE.
The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon is the oldest and most revered work covering Chinese medical theory. This work was compiled on the basis of shorter texts from different medical lineages. Written in the form of dialogues between the legendary Yellow Emperor and his ministers, it offers explanations on the relation between humans, their environment, and the cosmos, on the contents of the body, on human vitality and pathology, on the symptoms of illness, and on how to make diagnostic and therapeutic decisions in light of all these factors. Unlike earlier texts like Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments, which was excavated in the 1970s from a tomb that had been sealed in 168 B.C.E., the Inner Canon rejected the influence of spirits and the use of magic. It was also one of the first books in which the cosmological doctrines of Yin Yang and the Five Phases were brought to a mature synthesis.
The Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and Miscellaneous Illnesses was collated by Zhang Zhongjing sometime between 196 and 220 CE, at the end of the Han dynasty. Focusing on drug prescriptions rather than acupuncture, it was the first medical work to combine Yin Yang and the Five Phases with drug therapy. This approach was also the earliest public Chinese medical text to group symptoms into clinically useful "patterns" ("Zheng") that could serve as targets for therapy. Having gone through numerous changes over time as two distinct books: the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders and the Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Casket, which were edited separately in the eleventh century, under the Song dynasty.
In the centuries that followed the completion of the Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon, several shorter books tried to summarize or systematize its contents. The Canon of Problems (estimated in the second century CE) tried to reconcile divergent doctrines from the Inner Canon and developed a complete medical system centered on needling therapy. The AB Canon of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Zhenjiu jiayi jing - compiled by Huangfu Mi sometime between 256 and 282 CE, assembled a consistent body of doctrines concerning acupuncture; whereas the Canon of the Pulse presented itself as a "comprehensive handbook of diagnostics and therapy."
In 1950, Chairman Mao Zedong made a speech in support of traditional Chinese medicine which was influenced by political necessity. Zedong believed he and the Chinese Communist Party should promote Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) but he did not personally believe in TCM and he didn't use it. In 1952, the president of the Chinese Medical Association said that, "This One Medicine, will possess a basis in modern natural sciences, will have absorbed the ancient and the new, the Chinese and the foreign, all medical achievements—and will be China’s New Medicine!".