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TIMELINE OF CHINESE MEDICINE

I. Origin of Chinese Medicine


Antiquity - ( ~ 2000 BC )
Important People / Authors Texts / Events
Ancient Chinese gradually discovered medicinal herbs when collecting
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food.
During the period of clan commune, discovery of fire gradually led to the
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invention of hot compresses and moxibustion.
The practice of medicine was very much intermixed with witchcraft to
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cure illness.
Yellow Emperor & They are said to be the founders of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Shen-nong

II.The Early Medical Activities


Shang (1700-1100 BC)
Important People / Authors Texts / Events
- Inscriptions on oracle bones describe the use of wine and hot water as
medicine and the use of needles and bronze knives as surgical instruments.
The oracles also talked about a number of diseases and illnesses.
Yi Yin He was credited with improving decoction methods and extending their
applications.

III. The Rise and Development of the Theoretical Chinese Medicine System
Zhou Dynasty (1100 - 221 BC)
Important People / Authors Texts / Events
According to the book Rites of Zhou, this period had an organized medical
system in which court officials of the emperor had different specialties
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such as dietitians, disease and surgical doctors and veterinarians. The book
also recorded seasonal epidemics and relevant treatment drugs.
Bian Que The first recorded physician who established Chinese medicine diagnostic
procedures.
It was around this time period that the yin/yang and the five element
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philosophies were applied to Chinese Medicine.
Huang Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic)

Significance
Unknown The book is comprised of two parts: the Suwen (The Book of Plain
Questions) & the Lingshu (The Spiritual Pivot). The book summarizes
previous medical experiences and deals with the anatomy and physiology
of the human body. It lays the foundation for TCM.
Qin & Han Dynasties (221 BC - 220 AD)

Important People / Authors Texts / Events


- An influx of philosophical thinking in the practice of Chinese medicine
was due to a vast adoption of different beliefs.
- Apprenticeships were a common means of educating new physicians
during this time. Examinations to recruit qualified physicians were
introduced.
- Shennong Bencaojing (Shen Nong's Classic of Herbal Medicine)

Significance
This is the earliest completed Chinese pharmacopoeia reference. The book
lists a total of 365 Chinese medicines and outlines some principles of
herbal combinations (prescriptions.)
Hua Tuo He pioneered the use of an anesthetic drug and devised gymnastic
exercises known as "the play of the five animals" to help Chinese keep fit
and healthy.
Zhang Zhongjing Shanghan Zabinglun (Treatise on Cold-induced and Miscellaneous
Diseases)

Significance
This book establishes diagnosis based on overall analysis of signs and
symptoms. Its 269 prescriptions make up the basis for modern clinical
practice. It was rewritten and divided into two parts called Shang han lun
(Treatise on Cold-induced Diseases) and
Jinkui Yaolue (Synopsis of the Golden Chamber).

IV. All-round Development in Medicine


The Chinese Middle Ages ( 220 - 581 AD )
Important People /
Texts / Events
Authors
Wang Shuhe Maijing (Pulse Classic)

Significance
This is a compilation of all the knowledge on pulse diagnosis up to this point
in history. It establishes the standard for pulse diagnosis and is the earliest
text for pulse study.
Huang Fumi Zhenjiu Jiayijing (Systemic Classic of Acupuncture and
Moxibustion)

Significance
This text is considered to be the earliest complete reference guide to
acupuncture and moxibustion. It summarizes information on the meridians,
acupuncture points, needle manipulation and their contraindications. It lists a
total number of 349 acu-points and discusses the therapeutic properties of
each point.
Sui & Tang Dynasties ( 618-907 AD )

Time Important People / Authors Texts / Events


624 Tang government Imperial Medical Academy was established, which set up
institutions for education in various fields of medicine.
Meanwhile some local medical schools were established.
581-682 Sun Simiao Qianjin Yaofang (Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold for
Emergencies) & Qianjin Yifang (Supplement to the Precious
Prescriptions)

Significance
The first medical encyclopedia in China was comprised of 30
volumes and 5,300 prescriptions. These books dealt with
acupuncture, moxibustion, dietary therapy as well as disease
prevention and health preservation. It was an outstanding
reference for treatment of deficiency diseases.

V. Great Innovation and Achievement in Medicine


Song Dynasty ( 960-1279 AD )
Time Important People / Authors Texts / Events
Wang Weiyi He was in charge of designing and casting two life-size male
bronze statues for acupuncture.

1057 Significance
These inventions marked an important step for TCM
education, by using these models as a concrete demonstration
tool.
1057 Song government The Bureau for the Re-editing of Medical Books was
established to collect, collate and verify all medical texts
bequeathed by 1,000 years of history. As a result, several of
the established classics were published and many books were
rewritten or revised under new titles.
1076 Song government The Imperial Bureau of Medicine established "dispensaries"
for public welfare.
1103 Song government The Imperial Bureau of Medicine established the department
of drug manufacturing.
1249 Li Gao Peiweilun (Treatise on the Spleen and Stomach)

Significance
A treatise on spleen and stomach diseases, which is still an
important reference in modern-day TCM practice.
Qing Dynasty ( 1644 - 1911 AD )
Time Important People / Authors Texts / Events
1822 Qing government The Imperial Bureau of Medicine was ordered to close down
the Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion
permanently.

Significance
The Qing emperor believed that the acupuncture and
moxibustion methods were not appropriate to treat the royal
families, therefore he ordered the Imperial Bureau of
Medicine to close down this department permanently.
- Due to the rise of Western Medicine, CM was no longer the
one and only medical practice in China.
1844 - The Sino-US Wangxia Treaty was signed, which stipulated
that Americans could set up medical offices and churches in
the trading ports.
1881 - "College for Medical Practice" was set up in Tianjin,
indicating that the Chinese formally established it's own
education program for western medicine.
1912 The Kuomingtang Wang Daxie, the Minister of Health, was one of the first
government officials to call for the abolition of Chinese medicine.

VII. Revolutions in The Recent Hundred-year


Modern China ( 1912 AD ~ )
Time Important People / Authors Texts / Events
1914 The Northern Warlord Abolishment of traditional Chinese medicine was proposed,
government but was strongly opposed by people working in TCM and
pharmacy all over the country.
1909-24 Zhang Xichun Yixue Zhongzhong Canxilu (Records of Traditional Chinese
in Combination with Western Medicine)

Significance
The writer advocates for integration of Eastern and Western
medicines; some of his comments are quite distinctive.
1925 The Kuomingtang Chinese medicine courses were prohibited from being
government included in medical schools.
1929 The Kuomingtang A proposal written by Yu Ai and Wang Qizang, entitled "A
government Case for the Abolishment of the Old Medicine to Thoroughly
Eliminate Public Health Obstacles," was passed in the first
congress of the Central Ministry of Health. This pushed the
TCM abolition movement to its peak.

Meanwhile, CM workers and pharmacies throughout the


country went on strike, which resulted in the resolution being
forced to be abandoned.
1931 - "Central College of Chinese Medicine" was founded, which
aimed to modernize TCM.
1936 The Kuomingtang "The Chinese Medicine Ordinance" was issued, which was
government very discriminatory against TCM.
1950 The People's Republic of The First National Conference on Health was held and
China government determined that future medical policy would combine
Chinese and Western medicine.
1955 - The Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine was founded.
1956 - TCM Colleges were established again in the big cities like
Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
- Full-time training courses for Western doctors to study TCM
were launched.
1962 - A first edition textbook for TCM education, approved by the
government and TCM experts, was published for TCM
colleges.
1964 - A second edition textbook for TCM colleges was published.
1980 The Ministry of Public The Ministry established a national guideline for the
Health development of Chinese and Western medicine, and for their
long-term co-existence, and integration into China's
healthcare system.

References:

1. Dominique Hoizey & Marie-Joseph Hoizey, translated by Paul Bailey. A History of Chinese Medicine. Edinburgh
University Press Ltd 1993.
2. State Administration of TCM. Advanced Textbook on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology. New World
Press 1995.
3. 甄志亞 主編《中國醫學史》上海科學技術出版社1997.

Compiled and Edited by:

Angela Collingwood, MSN, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.


Lawrence Lau, Ph.D., Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.
Rose Tse, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.