There are four classic works in Chinese
medicine: Yellow Emperor’s Internal Medicine (《黄帝内经》), Treatise
on Febrile Diseases (《伤寒论》), Synopsis of Golden
Chamber (《金匮要略》) and Doctrine for Seasonal Febrile
Diseases (《温病条辨》). Among the four, Yellow Emperor’s
Internal Medicine, believed to be first compiled during
the Warring State period (475BC - 221BC), is the earliest
and most influential in the Chinese Medicine field, which
systematically formulated the doctrine of Chinese medicine.
Based on yin-yang
principle and Five-agents theory (阴阳五行学说) derived from I
Ching - Chinese comprehension of the fundamental laws
of the universe and the philosophical groundwork for Chinese
culture - The Internal Medicine drew upon the
sophisticated knowledge of that time on pulse condition
(脉象学说), visceral manifestation (藏象学说), meridian (经络学说),
etiological (病因学说), pathogenesis (病机学说), pathognomy (病症学说),
diagnostic methods (诊法), treatment determination (诊法),
health preservation (养生学) and qi movement
and manipulatoin (运气学).
The book consists of two parts, Simple Questions
(《素问》) and Miraculous Pivot (《灵枢》).
In the Simple Questions the big questions about
the disposition and transformation of nature are pondered
and explained, and the relationships between man
and his natural environment are asked and answered,
while the Miraculous Pivot presents detailed studies
on the tangible internal organs and intangible qi channels
in human body.
The view expressed in the book reflects an essential difference
between Chinese medicine and that of the modern West. It
does not see the world in a dumb version of black and white
that sets man and nature in the opposing mode, nor does it
keep going extreme, from a total self-denial to an absolute
self-obsession. Instead, it considers man as an organic whole,
regards him as a micro version of the universe, and appreciates
the fact that different versions of the universes are mirroring
Yin and yang - from the viewpoint of Yellow
Emperor's medicine - represent the negative and the
positive quality of each thing, and are the driving forces
of all manifestations in the universe ever since the double
expressions were split into existence from an united nothingness.
As the relationship between the dual forces is highly volatile
and incredibly dynamic, when human health is concerned,
his wellbeing very much depends on the delicate balance
between yin and yang.
According to Profession Zhang Qicheng (张其成), of Beijing
University of Chinese Medicine (北京中医药大学), there are four
characteristics that set Chinese medical approach apart from
the modern Western methodology:
Its mature and deep humanity, that regards patients not
as assembled machines but human beings with emotions and
Its recognition of the distinctiveness of each individual,
that requires not an standard response but unique handling
of each case;
Its holistic approach to health issues that views illness
not as an isolated incident but the event taken place in
broad context and the consequence of all previous occurrences;
Its organic and dynamic comprehension of life that does
not try to understand it exclusively through microscope in
laboratory or autopsy on corpses but by way of direct observation
and enquiry of people.
To best comprehend the Chinese medicine, as Professor Zhang
believes, one will need to break out of the rigid confinement
of the modern Western definition, as Chinese medicine is
neither so-called social science nor supposed natural science.
Chinese medicine IS Chinese medicine, which is something
beyond the current scientific expressions.
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