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Spring and Autumn Period & Warring States (770~221B.C.)

Appearance of Professional Practitioners

According to Zhou Li (The Rites of the Zhou Dynasty), there were professional physicians in China, and early medical systems had been established during the Zhou Dynasty (1100~256B.C.).  There was a clear division of labor for physicians in the court.  In this period, there came forth many famous physicians such as Yi Huan, Yi He, Bian Que, Zi Yang, Zi Bao, and so on.  It was quite evident that physician had become a special occupation at this time. More >>

 
Yi Huan

Germination of the Theoretical System of Chinese Medicine

During the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States (770~221B.C.), development of philosophy had not only promoted the differentiation of medicine and witchcraft, but had also infiltrated into medical science and accelerated the formation of medical theories.
Yi He was a distinguished physician in the Spring and Autumn Period (770~476B.C.).  He put forward the idea that diseases were caused by abnormal changes in the six factors, namely, yin, yang, wind, rain, night, and day, which he used to explain the causes of diseases.  Another famous physician called Bian Que mentioned five organs, stomach and intestines, blood vessel, qi and blood, yin and yang, etc.  These theories not only had a great influence on the development of etiology in later times but also showed that the people gradually discarded the belief that diseases were caused by evil spirits.
Formation of the theoretical system of traditional Chinese medicine was based on physicians’ practice experiences of this time.  Development of natural philosophy also played a very important role.  Theories of original qi, yin-yang, five elements, correspondence between man and nature all had great impact on Chinese medicine.
 
 
Yi He
Health Care and Disease Prevention
There were many health care prescriptions in Li Ji (The Book of Rites).  One of them is "rinsing the mouth with salty water when the cock crows at dawn".  There is a record of "bathing when there are sores on the head and the body", which indicates people of that time not only knew the importance of bathing at regular intervals, but also understood the therapeutic significance of bathing.
During The Spring and Autumn Period (770~476B.C.), the idea of "taking preventive measures against possible calamities" had already prevailed among the intelligentsia.  This idea also influenced the thought of medical professionals and developed into theories of disease prevention.  The preventive treatment of disease in Huang Di Nei Jing (Huangdi's Canon of Medicine) was rooted in this.  There are more than 20 prophylactic medicines in Shan Hai Jing (The Classics of Mountains and Seas).  This also indicates that people of that time had paid more attention to disease prevention.
 
 
 

Li Ji (The Book of Rites)

Medical Classics

In this period, special medical works came out in succession.  Books like Wu Shi Er Bing Fang (Prescriptions for Fifty-two Kinds of Diseases), Zu Bi Shi Yi Ma Jiu Jing (Moxibustion Classic of Eleven Meridians on the Leg and Arm), Yin Yang Shi Yi Mai Jiu Jing (Moxibustion Classic of Eleven Yin and Yang Meridians) unearthed from the No.3 tomb of the Han Dynasty at Mawangdui, near Changsha, were all compiled in this period.

 
Zu Bi Shi Yi Mai Jiu Jing (Moxibustion Classic of Eleven Meridians on the Leg and Arm)

 

Achievement of Materia Medica and Germination of Formula Science

Along with the accumulation of knowledge in medication administration, compound prescriptions substituted simple prescriptions gradually.  Continuously exploring in principle and theory of how to compose a prescription led to the germination of formula science.  Bamboo slips unearthed from Hanyang named Wan Wu (All Things on Earth) had records of several compound prescriptions.  And there were as many as 283 compound prescriptions in Wu Shi Er Bing Fang (Prescriptions for Fifty-two Kinds of Diseases).

 
Wu Shi Er Bing Fang (Prescriptions for Fifty-two Kinds of Diseases)

 

Appearance of Clinic Department

Development of materia medica and formula settled the base of clinic departments.  From the Zhou Dynasty (1100~256B.C.) to the Warring States Period (475~221B.C.), practitioners had been classified into four kinds.  They were Ji Yi (internist), Yang Yi (surgeon or dermatologist), Shi Yi (nutritionist) and Shou Yi (veterinarian).  Shi Ji (Historical Records) recorded the fact that Bian Que used to be a gynecologist, a pediatrician and a specialist of the five sense organs.  This proves the specialization of medical science in this period.

 

 


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