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Traditional Chinese Medicine has been growing in popularity in the United States for a while. According to a national survey published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one in five Americans has tried it at some point.

The Start of Traditional Chinese Medicine – Shang Dynasty

Research shows that Traditional Chinese Medicine has existed for approximately 3000 to 3500 years. However, there’s a strong possibility that it existed before written languages or records. Archeological findings prove that the Chinese written language might have existed over seven thousand years ago. But the proof comes from the Shang dynasty, notorious for their religiosity. The Shang dynasty held some shared beliefs on illness. They believed upsetting ancestors or being cursed could cause illnesses. Likewise, they believed that evil demons would enter unsuspecting humans, necessitating exorcisms. Cures for these ailments would involve placating ancestors with rituals or requesting their assistance with expelling demons. The Shang dynasty would refer to Shamans – as mediators proficient in communicating with ancestors. Shamans would seek advice from their deity, ShangTi.


Shamans would write questions on scapula bones or tortoise shells and heat them. The shells or bones would eventually crack. The Shamans considered these cracks divinations from their deity and would read them for answers. The Shang dynasty recorded crucial information and incorporated different philosophical ideas into their collections. They composed the medical classic, the Huang Ti Nei Ching (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal medicine), to consolidate experiences and theories into one book.


This book contained detailed information about the human anatomy and its functions. Likewise, it also included details about physiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment, acupuncture, and moxibustion – heat therapy involving dried plant materials called moxa.


The ancient writings within the book also contained a medical theory revolving around the circular movement of Qi within the human anatomy. The Shang dynasty believed ill health occurred due to improper movement of Qi in the human body, affecting the body’s natural Yin and Yang balance. They were convinced that the human body was an organic whole and a microcosm of the greater universe. As a result, they stipulated that health and illness were interconnected with the natural environment, including the five elements of wood, fire, water, metal, and earth.

TCM practice

The Zhou Dynasty Advances Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory and Practices

Traditional Chinese Medicine evolved under the Zhou dynasty. The Zhou dynasty began the period of intellectual reform known as Zhuzi Baija (Various Teachers, One Hundred Schools). During this period, imperial doctors were divided into four groups. These included dietetics, diseases, sores, and veterinary. Imperial doctors possessed various proven remedies, including herbs, animal material, and minerals. The Zhou Dynasty also kept recorded collections of their progress in medicine in the Zhou Dynasty Rites and the Mountain Sea Classic. Dietetic physicians were elevated to the highest level during this time, impacting the following generations drastically. Chinese medical experts from future dynasties would base their advancements on the dietetic therapies of the Zhou dynasty.


Medical scientists were also the foremost authorities during this period. Zhang Zhongjing, for instance, documented several works on epidemics, heat disorders, jaundice, and gynecology. He would eventually publish a complete set of treatment principles. Likewise, another medical scientist HuaTuo invented an anesthetic called Maffei San. This anesthetic was taken orally and would cause the patient to lose consciousness, allowing elaborate surgery. Further research shows that Maffei San was essentially powdered cannabis.

The Tang Dynasty

You’ll be interested to know that dietetic manuals published during the Tang dynasty are still published in China today. The Tang dynasty also significantly contributed to Traditional Chinese Medicine theories and practices. Sun Simia, a medical scientist, researched various aspects of Chinese medicine, including physiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment,  herbs, prescriptions, etc. In addition, he also focused on pediatrics, acupuncture, Qigong, etc.

He compiled his work into a book. In addition, he also included a supplement on herbal medicine that provides instruction for harvesting and processing over two hundred herbs.

A woman mixing herbs

Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Modern Era

While traditional Chinese medicine has been around for centuries, it has continued to evolve. Traditional Chinese Medicine became standard medical therapy in China, with practices like herbal medicine and moxibustion becoming prevalent. There was a growing disinterest in Traditional Chinese Medicine in the 17th century – with many believing traditional practices and ancient medicines – were riddled with superstition. The rise of Western medicine in the 20th century also propelled the decline of Traditional Chinese Medicine, causing acupuncture to decline in popularity. Eventually, acupuncture was outlawed in China in 1929.

However, things began to change two decades later. The new government in 1949 revived acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. It also started opening research facilities nationwide in the 1950s to promote Traditional Chinese Medicine theories and practices and help them evolve for the modern world. This move helped revitalize acupuncture’s popularity, causing it to become more popular in neighboring countries.

A New York Times Journalist was treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in China in the 1970s after requiring emergency surgery. The experience went well, causing the journalist to rave about Traditional Chinese Medicine in an article. This article brought significant attention and popularity to acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine practices in the west, causing them to become popular in the United States.

Modern-day China has also reconsidered its approach to Western and Traditional Chinese medicine. Most hospitals in the nation now integrate the two. Patients, for instance, will receive Western medical treatments and Ancient Chinese herbal medicines to help them recover from surgery. Physiotherapy and post-recovery practices also heavily utilize Traditional Chinese Medicine practices and philosophies.

 A Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Learn More About Traditional Chinese Medicine with WAHGEN

Wahgen Inc. is a Healthcare Consultant San Antonio. Our goal is to help spread awareness and knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory in Texas and across the United States. We also provide health consultation, Wuming standing exercise, and ear acupoint services. We also offer essential oil services. Visit our website for more information. Alternatively, contact us today to get started.



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