Traditional Chinese medicine is like a treasure in the world, and it’s an indispensable part of world medicine. With its special charm, more and more foreigners are attracted by the oriental medicine. There are some famous ancient Chinese doctors who had great contribution to traditional Chinese medicine.
Bianque, whose surname was Qin and original given name was Yueren, was born in Bohai (now Renqiu County of Hebei Province) in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221BC). He is regarded as the founder of traditional Chinese medicine. When he was a child, he learned skills of Chinese medicine from an old folk doctor, Mr. Changsang. He mastered Mr. Changsang's diagnosis method and treatment techniques and became the most famous doctor in his time, and was an outstanding representative of medical experts in the Pre-Qin Periods (before 221BC). He could diagnose diseases accurately, cure patients miraculously and bring the dying back to life. As a result, people respected him as a legendary miracle doctor and simply called him Bianque.
He is proficient at internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatric and Ophthalmology and Otorhinolaryngology. After Bianque became famous, he toured all the kingdoms to cure more diseases and relieve more people from suffering. His areas of treatment often changed from regions to regions. In Handan, he heard that most patients were women, so he worked as a "Daixia Doctor" (doctor specializing in gynecology); when he passed by Luoyang, he saw that elders were highly revered there so he became a doctor mainly treating diseases of the old such as the trouble in the ear or the eye; when he reached Xianyang, he became a pediatrician for people of the Qin Kingdom regarded children as the most important. In his practice of diagnosis, he had already applied the comprehensive diagnostic techniques of traditional Chinese medicines, namely, the four diagnostic methods: observation, auscultation and olfaction, interrogation, and pulse-feeling and palpation. At that time, Bianque called those techniques "Wangse (observing the color of the patient), Tingsheng (listening to the voice), Xieying (drawing a primary conclusion of the symptoms) and Qiemai (feeling the pulse)". Bianque's ways of treatment varied, such as acupuncture, adhibition of medicine, operation, medicine taking and so on.
Bianque had nine disciples in his life who contributed to hand down his high medical skills from generation to generation. Till the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), his well-preserved works included nine volumes of Internal Canon of Medicine, twelve volumes of External Canon of Medicine, and thirteen volumes of Bianque's Prescriptions Approved by First Yellow Emperor, etc. The extant medical book of the Han Dynasty, Canon of Medicine of Difficult Diseases, is a work compiled on the basis of Bianque's medical skill, especially his knowledge on pulse-taking. Bianque was memorized and respected by Chinese people forever. Many basic theories of the traditional Chinese medicine, which is still playing a great role in the health service of mankind, are closely originated from or related to Bianque.
Hua Tuo, with a style name Yuanhua, also called Fu, was born approximately at the beginning of the second century AD and died before the 13th year of the Jian'an reign (208). He was an outstanding and eminent medical scientist in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), especially good at surgical operation using anesthesia. He is a comprehensive doctor, skilled at internal medical, surgery, gynecology , pediatrics, etc. and proficient at surgery. He has ever use MaFeisan (a kind of anesthetic) to do operation, which is recognized as the earliest general anesthesia in world medical history. Meanwhile, Hua Tio is regarded as the founder of surgery in China.
When Hua Tuo was young, he studied in Xuzhou City of Jiangsu Province. He was skilled in several branches of learning and famous for his eminent performance. But he declined the conscription of the court to work as an officer and kept practicing medicine among the common people for a long time and his footprints covered many places including present Anhui, Shandong, Jiangsu, Henan and other provinces. He was deeply respected and loved by common people. In his late years, he was summoned by Cao Cao, a prominent legislator during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), to Xuchang of Hannan Province to treat the latter's wind syndrome of the head. Unwilling to work as Cao Cao's private doctor, Hua Tuo found an excuse to ask for leave and return to his home. He refused several times to come back to Xuchang, which angered Cao Cao. Finally, Cao Cao found an excuse to kill him.
Hua Tuo advocated cure illness through exercise. He insisted that physical exercise was the key to strengthening the body, and movement could promote blood circulation and speed up metastases. And he used the sport of five animals created by himself to prevent illness.
Li Shizhen (1518-1593), whose style name was Dongbi, also called Binhushanren (Person of the Mountain by the Lake) in his late years. He was from Jizhou (now Jichun County of Hubei Province) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). His grandfather was a doctor, and his father Li Yanwen was also a famous doctor in the local place.
As a child, Li Shizhen began to read some medical classics systematically. When his father went out for patients, he often went together with him to assistant for treating diseases and copying prescriptions. However, doctors' social position was low at that period so Li Yanwen did not hope Li Shizhen to take medicine as his occupation and asked him to take imperial examinations. For the sake of imperial examinations, he took Li Shizhen to Gu Riyan, a successful candidate in the imperial examination. Gu Riyan had a large collection of books, so Li Shizhen had the chance to read many rare classics.
At the age of 17, 20 and 23, Li Shizhen went to Wuchang to take the imperial exam at the provincial level, but failed every time. Hence, he gave up the imperial examination and determined to follow his father to learn medicine. He lucubrated at medical knowledge, spared no pains to take in the predecessors' experiences in medical treatment and was good at giving play to his own creativity. Coupled with his high sympathy for patients, he did not only show good curative leech craft but also high medical ethics in his practice. He won high prestige just in a few years. Particularly, his curing of a weird disease of children called "worm addiction" in the Royal Family of Chu made his reputation rise rapidly, and he was employed by the royal family as "fengcizheng"(an official title), in charge of affairs in the "liangyisuo" (Office of Good Doctors). Later, he was recommended to the “Hospital of Imperial Physicians” in Beijing to work as the "yuanpan" (chief doctor). However, he was not interested in it and resigned on the pretext of illness after working only for a little more than one year.
In his medical practice, Li Shizhen found many mistakes, repetitions or omissions in medical books available, feeling it was a great problem that affected the health and life of patients. So he made a decision to compile a new comprehensive book specializing in medicines again. From the age of 34, he started this project. In addition to summing-up of predecessors' experiences and accomplishments, he learned extensively from medical farmers, woodmen, hunters, fishermen and other laboring people. On the other hand, he often went to deep mountains and fields to observe and collect all kinds of samples of plants, animals, minerals and so on. He cultivated medical herbs himself and tried them on his own body so as to get the right knowledge of the herbs.
After 27 years of efforts, with reference to more than 800 kinds of literature and based on Jingshi Zhenglei Beiji Bencao (a book on materia medica) by Tang Shenwei in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), he completed his monumental work in pharmacy, Compendium of Materia Medica, in the sixth year (1578) of the Wanli reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) at the age of 60, after he did a great deal of collation and supplementation, added many of his own findings and views, and carried out three important revisions. Li Shizhen will never be forgotten by people for his great contribution to traditional Chinese medicine.
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