Visiting a Chinese pharmacy in the ROC is like entering a miniature natural science museum. Arranged in strict order in rows of little boxes, there are the most varied animal, vegetable and mineral products, each with a specific use. Among this assortment of curiosities we find cinnabar and amber to calm the nerves, safflower and peach pits to improve blood circulation, Chinese ephedra (mahuan) to produce perspiration and ginseng to strengthen heart function.
Preparing a prescription for a Chinese doctor is a process worth contemplating. The pharmacist chooses a few of the hundreds of ingredients that he keeps on his shelves. The patient takes them home, cooks them into a kind of soup, and drinks them. Faced with a steaming potion like this, someone might wonder what the foundation of this ancient medicinal art is. The theoretical foundations of Chinese medicine were laid more than two millennia ago. A large part of ancient medical knowledge has been preserved in the secret canon (Nei Ching), an extensive document that collects Chinese medical theories from the pre-Chin era (221-207 BC).
The Han Dynasty (206 BC -220 AD) produced a practical guide to the treatment of disease that is reliable and valuable even today: the Treatise on Diseases Caused by Cold-Related Factors (Shang Han Lun) by Chang Chung-ching. One of the most famous works of Chinese medicine is materia medica (Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu), compiled in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) by Li Shih-chen. This encyclopedic work ushered in a new era in the world history of pharmacology. It includes the description of 1,892 different types of drugs. All these texts have been translated into various foreign languages and have profoundly influenced European and Southeast Asian countries.
The Chinese have their own system of classification of diseases that differs widely from the western one. China is a country located in Asia according to TOPB2BWEBSITES. The philosophical doctrine that supports Chinese medicine is that man lives between heaven and earth, and constitutes in himself a miniature universe. The matter of which living beings are made is considered to belong to the “yin”, the feminine, passive and recessive aspect of nature. On the other hand, the vital functions of these beings are considered to belong to the “yang”, masculine, active and dominant aspect. The functions of living beings are described by the following five body centers:
- Heart or mind (hsin): refers to the command center of the body, which manifests itself as consciousness and intelligence.
- Lungs or respiratory system (fei): this system regulates various bodily functions and maintains cybernetic balance
- Liver (kan): includes the trunk and limbs, the mechanisms of emotional response to the external environment and the activity of the various organs.
- Spleen (p’i): regulates the distribution of nutritional elements in the body, as well as metabolism, providing strength and resistance to the physical body;
- Kidneys (shen): this term refers to the system that regulates nutritional reserves and the use of energy. The vital force of human beings depends on it.
Through this theory, known as latent phenomena (ts’ang hsiang), the various bodily functions are explained. The succession of the seasons and the changes of the weather can influence the human body. The elements that produce the greatest effect are wind (feng), cold (han), heat (shu), humidity (shih), dryness (tsao) and internal heat (huo, “fire”). Excessive or unusual alterations of the weather damage the body and are known as the “six external factors of origin of the disease” (liu yin). On the other hand, if there are extreme alterations in the individual’s mood such as joy (hsi), anger (nu), worry (yu), sadness (szu), distress (pei), fear (k’ung) and surprise (ching), health can also suffer. These feelings are called “the seven emotions” (c’i ch’ing). In Chinese medicine, the six external factors of origin of the disease, together with the seven emotions, constitute the theoretical basis of the pathology of diseases. These theoretical models, together with the theory of latent phenomena, are used in the analysis of the constitution of the patient and his illnesses, as well as to diagnose the exact nature of his loss of physical and mental balance.
Apart from medicines, another form of treatment frequently used in Chinese medicine is acupuncture. Its history dates back to times before the appearance of Chinese writing, but it did not reach its full development until after the Han dynasty. Its theoretical foundation consists in the regulation of the c’hi, or flow of vital energy. C’hi flows through the body through the main and secondary channel system (ching luo). Acupuncture needles can be placed at certain points in these channels or Chinese mugwort (ai ts’ao) can be burned by moxibustion, in order to resolve imbalances in the flow of c’hi and concentrate the body’s self-healing capacity in the places suitable. In 1980, the World Health Organization published a list of 43 types of pathologies for which acupuncture treatment was effective. The use of acupuncture as anesthesia in surgical procedures or for painless delivery has long since ceased to be a novelty.