There is little doubt that one of the oldest forms of traditional herbal practice is the (TCM).
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is arguably the longest-running medicine practice in the world, stretching from historic dynasties of the past.
Practices like acupuncture, cupping, diet, herbs, cupping qigong, and co are all subsumed in the TCM.
Some conditions/illnesses in which Chinese herbal medicines have become very helpful includes;
· High blood pressure
· Parkinson’s disease and many more.
Who is a Chinese Herbal/TCM practitioner?
Where modern medical practices base treatment procedures on diagnosis, TCM professionals try to find the “imbalance” that causes such illness.
A fundamental belief of TCM practitioners is that;
- there are certain vital energies (qi) that flow through channels in the body
- These channels are called meridians
- Meridians have branches connected to bodily organs and functions.
These fundamental theories have roots in Taoism. It draws credence on the theory that postulates that all bodily organs are mutually supportive of each other.
Therefore, all TCM specialists work to achieve one thing;
Harmonise the yin and Yang; two opposing and complementary energies that affect all existence.
This background knowledge of the theories and concepts that affect TCM gives us insight into their many practices.
Below is the list of the famous TCM practitioners, including those whose works made significant changes to modern-day medicine.
· Bian Que (Yeuren) (407-310 BC)
There are two famous Bian Que in the history of TCM, the second nicknamed after the first.
However, this one lived between (407-310 BC) and his actual name was Qin Yueren. He was so skilled that he was nicknamed so after the mythical Bian Que from the yellow emperor.
This physician was skilled in diagnosis, pulse-taking, acupuncture, and general healing.
His fame travelled far and wide in ancient china. His unheeded diagnosis for a king led to the king’s death and birthed the word chengyu.
It means to conceal/be reluctant to your ailment.
· Hua Tuo (140-208)
So great was the ability/skill of this physician, that his name is used to honour any outstanding physician of this day.
It is reported that he was the first to use anaesthesia during surgeries .
He did this by concocting herbal mixtures with wine or using cannabis boil powder.
He also created different medical therapies such as the “Five Animals Play” (tiger, deer, bear, ape, and crane).
He is one of the most revered, historic, and popular herbal practitioners in china.
· Sun Simiao (540-682)
Being called the King of Medicine is no small feat, and it is one of the many “titles” of this TCM physician.
Many credible reports claim that his frail health during childhood made him keenly interested in medicine.
Sun was so skilled that his fame resulted in personal pleas from three different emperors, which he refused.
He specialised in gynaecology, obstetrics, herbs, nutrition and wrote the famous classics Be Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang and Qian Jin Yi Fang.
Sun lived in the mountains and adopt the Daoist principles together with Buddhism and Confucianism.
His vast knowledge of medicine might have been a big factor for his almost century-and-a-half years.
· Li Shizhen (1518-1593)
Ironically, Li had a big reputation in medicine after trying unsuccessfully for years to become a premier.
So great was his skill and knowledge in TCM that there is a particular “strong” legend about him raising a pregnant woman from the “dead.”
Li spent over 25 years travelling around China and studying healing herbs.
His work “The Compendium of Materia Medica” features over 1,800 indigenous medicine/herbs with 1,100 illustrations and 11,000 prescriptions, which are still relevant in modern-day medicine.
A clarification to his rumour about healing the dead was: The pregnant woman was most likely in a coma and hastily put in a coffin for burial.
· Zhu Zhenheng (1280-1358 AD)
Little is known of this pioneer. Many believe him to be the pioneer of the power of the kidney and liver in the qi.
He strongly believed in the powers of the Yin on people’s health. He was the biggest advocate for proper care of body organs through abstinence in “worldly indulgences.”
Modern medicine seems to have proved him right after all. He focused mainly on chronic illnesses, diseases, and psychological health. He tried to point out “abstruse” concepts using the Yin and the Yang.
· Tao Hongjing (456-536)
This prominent physician is widely believed to be the real founder and proponent of the Shangqing School. The name translates to ‘Supreme Clarity’ or ‘Highest Clarity’.
Tao espoused healing techniques like visualisation and breathing. He also recognised the value of physical exercises instead of alchemy and talismans.
The mountain where Tao first had his camp in Moshan remains the principal seat of the school.
His famous contribution to medicine was his reorganising (reviewing) the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jin. Here, he increased the total number of herbs from 365 to 730.
· Zhang Yuanshu (Zhang Jiegu) (1151 -1234)
During the transitional periods from Jin to the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty, few contributed to medicine as Zhang.
He invented the Wuxing system, where he classified the herbal substances into five element theories, including both 5 Shen hergs and Qi Meridians.
In his famous work “Bag of Pearls,” he described the different effects of medicines through their “tastes.”
He was dead sure that herbs influenced and affected the meridians.
· Ye Tianshi (1667-1746)
The many contributions of this skilled physician helped Chinese doctors deal with the SARS outbreak of 2003.
He had enormous interests in defining diseases and their susceptibility to causing epidemics.
He was also interested in ancient Chinese practices and medical history.
His works still help Chinese doctors in fighting deadly illnesses.
· Quan Yi (1032-113)
Quan wrote some of the best formulas for medicine, especially children’s health.
His famous work “Key to Therapeutics of Children’s Diseases” was the first and is still relevant in Children’s medicine.
He discovered several scientific formulas and treatments.
He is posthumously honoured with the “Sage of Pediatrics” title.
Other famous physicians include;
· Ge Hong (283 -343 )- a naturalist, Chemist, and Pharmacist. He also contributed to literature, music, and Science.
· Huang Pumi (265 -420) – Acupuncture medicine
· Wang Tao (702-772) – wrote the Waitai Miyao
1 The records of the Three Kingdoms and the Book of Later Han