Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chinese Medicine - The History of Chinese Herbalism

Mention Chinese medicine to anyone today, especially in Western countries, and visions of acupuncture are the first thing that springs to mind for most people.
The truth is, Chinese medicine is so much more. Even more true, is the fact that Chinese medicine very often surpasses and is the foundation for Western medical practices.

Since practically the beginning of time, if it could be said that one culture literally wrote the book on herbalism -- only the Chinese could claim the prize of having the longest unbroken belief and traditions in herbal medicine.

It has always seems odd to me that the herbal medicine practices of Asian cultures, should be considered alternative medicine,while today's science of synthetic drugs (Western medicine) should be the standard.

Chinese Medicine

Roughly three thousand years ago, it is recorded history that the Chinese knew about three hundred different plants for herbal medicine. By then, they had already recorded descriptions of the plants, how to preserve them, and how to administer them correctly, all according to Chinese medicine practices of the time.
The wondrous thing is that many of these practices are still in use today and make up the foundation of herbal medicine as we now know it.

Let's Take A Look At How Chinese Medicine Came About

The Emperor Shen Nung (2698 B.C.)
The Emperor Shen Nung was a big fan or perhaps the "father" of Chinese medicine. He had the Canon of Herbs written, recording in precise detail three hundred and sixty-five plants, minerals, and animals. He further described how to preserve them for medicinal use, along with details on how to administer them.
The Canon of Herbs, is also known as the Shen-nung pen ts'ao ching (Divine Husbandman's Materia Medica), Legend has it, that he wrote it, but who actually penned his body of work is unknown.
One thing is certain, this Father of Chinese medicine is who introduce the technique of acupuncture to the common people of China.
He didn't just trust his theories and beliefs and the testing of them to others, he personally is said to have tasted at least one hundred of these traditional Chinese medicines.
He was quite a busy Emperor, because he additionally taught his people how to cultivate grains as food, solely for the purpose of killing less animals.

Haung Ti - The Yellow Emperor (2550 B.C.)
One hundred years after Emperor Shen Nung, Emperor Huang Ti (aka the Yellow Emperor) developed a central theory that in Chinese medicine that really understood human disease far better than any other culture during that time.
This one quote from his Nei Ching says it all:
"In treating illness, it is necessary to examine the entire context, scrutinize the symptoms, observe the emotions, and attitudes. If one insists on the presence of ghosts and spirits one cannot speak of therapeutics."
This optimistic viewpoint in his book, shows what today we know as, holistic medicine, being a concept a few thousand years old. The book was popular, even being updated in the 6th century, and then again in the 7th century.
The works also went into introduction to the then known concepts about living matter, medical physiology, known anatomy, and developments in acupuncture.

Su Jing
In the 7th century, a young man named Su Jing, went to the Tang Dynasty and asked for sponsorship to revised and update Emperor Huang Ti's Nei Ching. The court was so intrigued that it provided him with twenty experts to give him input, documentation, and even illustrations of useful herbs that they knew.
Two years later, the result was A Revised Canon of Herbs being published. When you think about it, this was an amazing feat because this was over eight hundred years beforethe Western printing press was invented -- the Tang Dynasty, not only printed it, they distributed it throughout China.

Li Shizhen (Li Shih-chen) - 1518 to 1593
The well known Ming Dynasty (1368 AD to 1644 AD) produced another great Chinese medicine work, written by Li Shih-chen. It was titled, Pen ts'ao kang mu (The Great Herbal). It took him twenty-seven years to write this book. It is a practical and scientific manual with over eleven thousand recipes or compounds.
Here was a man who was very determined from childhood as he helped his father collect herbs and copy prescriptions.
Inside it, is pretty much the sum total of herbal medicine known at the time. It contains descriptions of over eighteen hundred plants, animal parts, minerals, and metals that made up Chinese medicine for the time. The best part of Li Shih-chen's body of work in Chinese medicine is the fact that it is so revered, that it is updated and revised still to this day.

Chang Chung-ching - The Physician
During the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) one practitioner of Chinese medicine, stands far above the rest -- Chang Chung-ching. He was considered the greatest physician of his era. He would forever go down in Chinese history as the Hippocrates of China.
He wrote Shang han lun (Treatise on Colds and Fevers), which profoundly affected Chinese medicine

Acupressure Sandals For Overall Health

The Foot Is Important !

Did you know that your feet hold the key to your overall energy and well being? Absolutely! Apart from providing you balance as you walk or run, the feet can be the right place to bring relief to most ailments you may have. True, we all love beautifying our feet with an excellent pedicure. But, giving yourself a foot massage applying pressure to certain points on the foot makes you stressfree and improves blood circulation. You might wonder at this. But, this works on the reflexology principle since the feet are connected to all the organs in the body. A Foot Chart such as the one in the picture below shows you which area of your foot is connected to which part of your body.

Foot reflexology or acupressure for the feet or foot massage can be done as part of your daily exercise routine or you could choose to wear the readily available sandals made for the purpose. These can be worn for a few minutes a day and slowly you could increase the amount of time you wear it for best results.

Benefits Gained From Foot Reflexology
1. Improved circulation
2. Relaxes and energizes you
3. Stimulates internal organs and major energy medians that end in the feet
4. Improves sleep
5. Maintains your overall health
6. Prevents sickness

In China, self therapy measures such as foot massages are part of the daily regimen and help take control of one's overall health effectively. Therapeutically used, foot massages can be helpful in healing of specific diseases or used to maintain one's health.

Acupressure Sandals

Acupressure is generally associated with sharp needles that are thrust into the skin to pinpoint the exact pressure points that are connected to particular organs to relieve troublesome conditions. One need not be bothered about needles if using the acupressure sandals giving you the same effective results.

Acupressure sandals are footwear, based on acupressure and magnetic treatment therapy with foot reflexology. The pair consist of pressure points and magnets for powerful results. Based on the principle that the pressure points in the soles of our feet influence every part of our body, these sandals are a great way to relieve any pain or simply to destress, while rejuvenating every part of your anatomy. They can be used by anyone and are available in various sizes to fit correctly for maximum benefit. If you cannot give yourself a foot massage or do not have the time to find the correct reflexology points from a foot chart before pressing on, and yet want a short cut method to the benefits, these acupressure sandals are for you. You will soon find yourself to be a more relaxed, energized individual with great improvement in overall health.