Modern Adaptation of Ancient Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine has already reached maturity long time ago before the birth of Western medicine. Many ailments nowdays such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. depend on modern scientific instruments and blood tests for detection and monitoring. Does ancient natural healing have a role to play? Can Chinese herbal knowledge be adapted to treat these ailments? The answer is yes of course, if the herbalist knows how. Nature always provides us with the things we need, but it may not be in a simple direct way.

This article attempts to explain how the adaptation can be done. With the ancient knowledge of herbs, the herbalist must employ good skills and reasoning to make it work in the modern world. This requires an understanding of the nature of the illness, and equally important, the cultural and historical context of Chinese medicine. The following are some illustrations:


Cholesterol is a reliably recent discovery by modern scientific methods. This Western name has no equivalent in classical Chinese medicine. The Chinese could not possibly have known that cholesterol existed at that time without the benefit of blood tests. That is why there is no cholesterol herb in the herbal dictionaries, except in rumors or advertising. Has there been any lab test nowdays to confirm a cholesterol herb? The businessman will always say yes but he can not cite a really reliable or authoritative source.

Since most cholesterol comes from the food you eat, especially fat, the logical approach for treatment is to strengthen the stomach and the liver with the appropriate herbs so that the cholesterol will be broken down and pushed out of the body more effectively. This approach concerns on two major organs to do the work with the herbs as ambulance.


Your blood pressure can be measured easily with a simple modern instrument nowdays. In the old times, people relied on the feeling of a "rushing pulse" or "swollen head" which were far from accurate. The fact that high blood pressure can easily lead to a stroke was not well understood. That is why we have the term "zhong feng", which means being hit by the wind. This shows that the Chinese in the old times were not sure about the cause of a stroke. The use of the wind factor to describe a stroke was convenient and puzzling, but not accurate enough.

The herbal approach to high blood pressure is to calm the body especially the liver, to enhance blood circulation, and to regulate water in the blood. There exist plenty of herbs for application when the right approach has been defined this way.


In the old times when flushing toilets were non-existent, urines and excrements were collected and picked up every morning from each family and used as fertilizers. In some families with diabetic members, people always saw ants around their urine containers. This led to the term "sugar urine" because everyone knew ants loved sugar. It didnt take them too long to identify the diabetics and their symptoms. However, the causes of diabetes still remained vaguely understood except being linked to sugar and something wrong with the kidneys.

Since diabetes means sugar content in the urine, the Chinese herbal approach is to strengthen the kidneys, to nourish the blood, to regulate the water content, and to boost blood circulation so as to burn off the excess sugar.


The idea of ​​contagious disease was first discussed in "Shang Han Lun" circa 200 AD However, the existence of the flu virus never occurred in classical Chinese medicine without the benefit of the microscope, which was invented much later. The Chinese term for flu is "gan mao", which means catching something risky.

Even without knowing the existence of the flu virus, the Chinese were able to understand the flu quite well long time ago by carefully studying the symptoms of the disease. They have also derived a logical approach for treatment, which has proved very effective. Chinese herbs for flu and cough can help a person recover within a few days by purging all the "disease poisons" from the body. As a comparison, Western medicine focuses on antibiotics to kill the flu virus. One thing we all agree is that the body is capable of killing the virus because of our inborn immune system. Should we kill the virus for the body, or should we help the body to kill the virus? It all depends on which approach you want to take.

Source by John Fung

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