Reference Work Entry

Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures

pp 1529-1534

Medicine in China

  • Cai Jingfeng

The term Chinese medicine has a dual implication. It refers both to all medical systems prevalent in contemporary China and to traditional or indigenous medicine in its narrow sense (TCM for short). The former includes three medical systems: traditional, biomedical, or Western medicine as the Chinese call it, and integrated Chinese and western medicine.

Traditional Chinese medicine includes the experiences of fighting against disease, keeping fit, and seeking longevity. It was created by all nationalities of the Chinese people and is the synthesis of the medical systems of all ethnic groups. For historical reasons, TCM has been applied exclusively to the indigenous medical system created by the Han nationality. Logically, TCM should also include Tibetan, Mongolian, Korean, and Uyghur medicine and that of all other ethnic groups as well. Unfortunately, this interpretation would go against the common understanding of TCM. Hence, in this article we also use TCM in its narrow sense, referri ...

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