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A BRIEF OUTLINE OF CHINESE MEDICAL HISTORY WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO ACUPUNCTURE* CHOH-LUH LI, M.D., Ph.D.\ Since the tension between the United States and China was relaxed, acupuncture has suddenly become a subject of interest, especially among medical scientists [1-12]. This article on the history of acupuncture in China is written with the hope of encouraging further communication among the Western and Eastern scientists and further study of the mechanisms of acupuncture in surgical anesthesia and treatment of diseases . An outline of Chinese history is given in the Appendix. It goes back to about 3,322 years before Christ [13, 14]. However, it must be noted that whether Fu Hsi, Shên Nung, and Huang Ti were real or simply legendary characters is still debatable. It is also to be remembered that in the most well-known Chinese history text, Shih chi [15], the accomplishments of Fu Hsi, Shên Nung, and Huang Ti are described in considerable detail. In China there are temples, called "Three-Emperor Temples," in memory of Fu Hsi, Shên Nung, and Huang Ti.1 People come to these temples to worship the Three Emperors and to receive blessings from them for good health. For thousands of years the Chinese people have been proud to call themselves the descendants of Huang Ti or "sons and *The transliteration (romanization) of the pronunciation of the Chinese ideographs in this article is given according to the Wade-Giles system in R. H. Mathews, ? Chinese-English Dictionary, Compiledfor the China Inland Mission (Shanghai: China Inland Mission and Presbyterian Mission Press, 1931). It is to be noted, however, that in the People's Republic of China romanization of the Chinese ideographs has been standardized by the government, and the system is different from that of Wade-Giles, as seen in Xm Hua Zi Dian [New Chinese dictionary] (Peking: Commercial Press, 1971). tNational Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Bethesda, Maryland 20014. I gratefully acknowledge the encouragement of Drs. DeWitt Stetten, Jr., and Vincent Price of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at a meeting on December 20, 1971. I also thank Dr. Choh-Ming Li of the Hong Kong Chinese University for his continuous support by supplying the literature of Chinese medicine and acupuncture since 1972. 1TlIe Three Emperors in China may also be the Emperors of Heaven, Earth, and Man. However, the grandson of Confucius (551-479 b.c.), K'ung An-Kuo, designated Fu Hsi, Shên Nung, and Huang Ti as the Three Emperors. 132 I Choh-luh Li · Chinese Medical History grandsons of the Yellow Emperor." In any case, these three men, whether they are real or legendary, have played an important role in shaping the thinking of the Chinese people. According to Chinese history , these three men were not only the founders of the philosophy of Chinese medicine but also the first clinical practitioners in China. About 3322 b.c., Fu Hsi taught his people how to keep domestic animals , how to fish, how to cook, and how to get married. He also invented musical instruments and needles of nine different shapes. The needles were made of stone and used, in many instances, for the treatment of diseases [16]. Most important of all, he invented pa kua or the octograms [15]. From pa kua a theory ofyin and yang was derived [15, 17-19]. The combined force ??yin and yang produced life, and a balance ofyin and yang gave good health to man. Within Chinese traditional medicine, this theory has provided the commonly used basis for explaining the process of human diseases and a guideline for their diagnosis and treatment. According to the theory oïyin and yang, man is an integral part of the universe. The law of the universe is also the law of man. The universe changes continuously in a rhythmic manner; thus, there are day and night, then day again (fig. 1). In the daytime we go to work, at night we go to sleep, the next day we go to work again. When we close our eyes, we are in darkness and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 132-143
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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