Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Most Famous Chinese Physicians of all Time

Masters of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Bian Que, also named Tai Yueren, of Renqiu in Hebei province. - The most ancient of the physicians from the historical period (ca. 500 B.C.). He was reputed to be an excellent diagnostician, excelling in pulse taking and acupuncture therapy. He is ascribed the authorship of "Bian Que Neijing" (Internal Classic of Bian Que). Han Dynasty physicians claimed to have studied his works, which have since been lost.

One day Bian Que heard the queen of Hu state (in today's Shaanxi province) had died. He felt very sad and decided to go to the palace. He found the queen's inner thighs were not yet very cold and diagnosed her as "fake death". Under his care the queen recovered fully. Thus Bian Que received the title "The doctor who brings back from the dead". From that day on Bian Que became a doctor at a level of a god. At the same time the jealous imperial doctor dispatched agents to kill Bian Que (at that time still named Tai Yueren) for fear of Bian Que's high level of medical treatment. After his death and because of his incredible skill in medicine, people have named him as the spiritual doctor Bian Que.

Cang lived about 200 B.C., at the beginning of the early Han Dynasty period. He is famous for keeping clinical records and case histories, thus being able to develop the concept of prognosis based on prior experience. This art was largely lost and restored only during the 20th century.

Hua Tuo, also named Yuan Hua of Hao county in Anwei province. was the first famous Chinese surgeon. He is the first in the world to developed the use of anesthesia, and furthered the limited Chinese knowledge of anatomy.  When using acupuncture and herbs, he preferred simple methods, using a small number of acupuncture points and formulas comprised of only a few herbs. He practiced Chi-kung [Qi Gong] and taught the "frolics of the five animals," a practice still used today. The five animals are Tiger, Deer, Bear, Ape and Crane.

One day a patient came to see Hua Tuo. Hua Tuo diagnosed the patient with Ulcerative Colitis (bleeding ulcer in the large intestine). He thus decided that surgery was needed. He gave the patient "Anesthetic powder", as the patient lost feeling he performed the operation. He cut the abdomen open and located the ulcer in the intestines. Clearing the infected area he sewed it back and applied "Spirits Lotion". In one month the patient recovered completely. Later on a famous general named Zao Cao contracted illness called "Tou Feng". The general came to see Hua Tuo and was advised to have an operation. The general suspected Hua Tuo wanted to harm him and thus ordered the death of Hua Tuo. A very loved and revered physician was lost to the world.

Zhang Zhongjing, also named Zhang Ji, is the most famous of China's ancient herbal doctors. He is known for his book "Shang Han Za Bing Lun".  Not only did it contain over 100 effective formulas (many of them still used today), but the text implied a theoretical framework that led to hundreds of books analyzing, explaining, and reforming it.

Another section is best known for some of the formulas, such as the gynecological remedy Tang-kuei and Peony Formula [Danggui Shaoyao San] which is today applied to infertility, disorders during pregnancy, prevention of miscarriage, and post-partum weakness. His work might have been lost had it not been for the efforts of Wang ShuHe .

When Zhang Zhongjing was 50 years old there was a grave plague in China where two thirds of the population were infected. Zhongjing, very saddened by this, decided whole heartedly to research and find a solution to the problem. After several decades Zhongjing finished his work "Shang Han Za Bing Lun" which became a corner stone in Chinese medicine history.

Wang Shuhe lived during the western Jin dynasty. His research and knowledge of the pulse diagnosis was especially prominent. His outstanding work "Mai Jing"(The Pulse Classics) contains much of his knowledge and understanding of pulse secrets. "Mai Jing" has 10 scrolls and describes the pulse positions, methods, and established 24 different kinds of pulse. This work allowed future generations to grasp the essence of pulse in an instant, as well as understand the different pulse phenomena with every illness. Wang Shuhe is called the "greatness of pulse", and is revered around the world as the pioneer in this field. Wang Shuhe also took the Zhang Zhongjing classic "Shang Han Za Bing Lun" and divided it to "Shang Han Lun" and "Jing Kui Yao Lue".

Huang-fu [Huangfu Mi; 214-282 A.D.] Huangfu lived to see the end of the latter Han Dynasty. He is famous for his skills in acupuncture therapy; Huangfu, also named Huang Shian, composed many literary works during his life time and was very influential during his time. At his middle age while contracting a severe disease he decided that the study of medicine is of utmost importance. He assiduously studied Chinese medicine and by his life end he compiled one of the prominent acupuncture works in history: "Huang Di Zhenjiu Jia Yi Jing". The classic "Jia Yi Jing" has a total of 12 scrolls with 128 chapters. This work summarized the entire knowledge of acupuncture at the time, and in addition added a sizeable amount of new information. Later generations of acupuncturist needed only to learn this book to understand the secrets of the art. This classic not only influenced the acupuncture art in China but around the world, in countries like Japan, Korea and France.

Ko Hung [Ge Hong] was the most famous alchemist of China. He strongly believed in the ability to transform anything and everything, given the proper procedure.

Ge Hong, was also named Wei Chuan but most recognized as Bao Pu Zi.  Ge Hong's research into Chinese medicine was very profound. Among Ge Hong's many works the most famous are "Jin Kui Yao Fang" and "Zhou Hou Jiu Zu Fang", the first had 100 scrolls and the latter 3 scrolls. Unfortunately Many scrolls of "Jin Kui Yao Fang" are lost. "Zhou Hou Fang" carries truly precious information about the knowledge of transmission of disease (especially febrile disease).

Ge Hong is the first to describe Tian Hua and Huo Luan illnesses and their origins in food and drinks. Ge Hong's life long search for knowledge brought across the country to teachers such as Zheng Yin who taught him about alchemy, as well as to Bao Jian who taught him medicine and even gave him his daughter Bao Gu for a wife.

Tao Hongjing, also known as Tao Tongming. His foremost contribution was the reorganization of the "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing"(earliest Chinese herbal materia medica). From his own knowledge and experience he added to the materia medica 365 new herbs, which brought the total number of herbs to 730. He then divided the herbs to categories and qualities, creating his compilation: "Ben Cao Jing Ji Zhu". This classic influence on later generations was immense. The earliest Tang dynasty herbal dictionary "Xin Xiu Ben Cao" is entirely based on it.

One day Tao Hongjing heard a rumor of birds that develop from worms. He suspected that this story is fabricated. He went into a courtyard to research the event. After numerous observations he realized that the worms were brought into the nest by the birds and were left there to have their own offspring. Later it would serve the birds as a food supply. He thus concluded that the birds were  not created from the worms, the worms were planted in the nest. Tao Hongjing set a new standard for Chinese medicine of future generations "One must research every idea carefully, and not jump to a conclusion just because other people say so".

Chao Yuanfang; of the Sui dynasty 550-630 A.D.  Chao was a physician to the Emperor. In 609 A.D. an important officer, Ma Shumou, contracted a damp wind illness. He consulted Chao Yuanfang and was told: "Wind entered your waist, the illness is in your chest, you must eat tender lamb meat with medicine, and you will be fine". Miraculously so, the old illness of damp wind was quickly gone. In 610 A.D. Chao Yuanfang was in charge of compiling the "Zhubing Yuanhou Zonglun" (General Treatise on the Etiology an Symptoms of Diseases) which was valued for centuries afterward as a means of categorizing and describing diseases. His work contained 50 scrolls.

Sun Ssu-mo [Su Simiao] was a child prodigy. He had mastered the Chinese classics by age 20 and then became a well-known medical practitioner. 

Sun Simiao of Yao county in Shaanxi province, was a famous doctor of the Tang dynasty. He gave much ado to the virtue of medicine and said:" Human life is worth a thousand gold bars, with a virtue of one prescription you can fix it". In 652 he compiled the famous "Qian Jin Yao Fang" with 30 scrolls and later composed "Qian Jin Yi Fang" with another 30 scrolls.

In his theory the virtue of medicine came into play as well as a thorough understanding of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He contributed greatly to malnutrition illnesses, such as recommending seaweed to people living in the mountain regions who suffered from goiter, and recommending liver of ox and sheep for person suffering from night blindness. He was also a Taoist alchemist, seeking demon-dispelling remedies, including spells, herbal formulas, and toxic alchemical preparations. By later generations he was nicknamed the "Herbal King".

Chien Chen [Jian Zhen; 683-763 A.D.] - Jian was an outstanding Buddhist monk who studied medicine. He was invited to Japan and brought Traditional Chinese Medicine there where it soon flourished. He was well known for his generosity and hard work.

Wang Tao [Wang Tao; ca 702-772 A.D.] - He is famous for writing the book "Waitai Miyao" (Medical Secrets of an Official), published in 752 A.D. He provided a comprehensive description of medical problems, covering more than 1,000 categories, and discussed over 6,000 herbal prescriptions.

Chien-yi [Qian Yi; ca 1032-1113 A.D.] - Qian specialized in treatment of children and wrote the famous book "Xiaoer Yaozheng Zhijue" (Key to Therapeutics of Children's Diseases). This book presented the prescription Rehmannia Six Formula (Liuwei Dihuang Wan), which has become the most widely used yin-nourishing prescription, especially given to the elderly despite its origins as a pediatric formulation.

Liu Wan-su [Liu Wansu] observed the high frequency of fever and inflammation in serious diseases and promoted the idea of using herbs of a cooling nature to treat these conditions. This was a step in the opposite direction of many of his predecessors, who focused on using warming herbs. This work had much influence on the later concept of "wen bing" or epidemic febrile diseases, which corresponded to (and preceded) the Western concept of contagious disease. He also undertook a detailed study of the "Nei Ching Su Wen" [Nei Jing Su Wen], describing the etiology of disease in relation to the teachings of that famous text.

Chang Tzu-ho [Zhang Zihe; 1156-1228 A.D.] - Zhang is known as the developer of the "attacking school" of Chinese medicine, emphasizing the use of diaphoretics, emetics, and purgatives to attack the pathogen and drive it out of the body. This was actually a revival of the early Han Dynasty techniques that were based on driving out demons.

Li Tung-yun [Li Dongyuan, also known as Li Gao; 1180-1252 A.D.] - Li is best known for his thesis that most diseases were due to injury to the stomach/spleen system, which occurred as the result of intemperance in eating and drinking, overwork, and the seven emotions. His well-known book "Pi Wei Lun" (Treatise on the Stomach and Spleen) presented one of the most widely used traditional formulas: Ginseng and Astragalus Combination (Buzhong Yiqi Tang).

Chu Tan-chi [Zhu Danxi, also known as Zhu Zhenheng; 1280-1358 A.D.] - Zhu believed that people suffered from chronic disease mainly due to overindulgence in pleasurable things and activities, resulting in debility of the yin essence. He therefore recommended temperance and use of tonic formulas, especially those that nourished the kidney and liver.

Li Shizhen of Chai Zhou in Hubei province, is considered to have been China's greatest naturalist. He was very interested in the proper classification of the components of nature. His major contribution to medicine was the forty year project of sifting through the vast array of herbal lore and writing down the information that was, in his view, a reliable reflection of reality.

His book, the "Bencao Gang Mu; 1596", has been used as a pharmacopoeia, but it was also treatise on botany, zoology, mineralogy and metallurgy. The book was reprinted frequently and five of the original edition still exist. A rough translation of the herb entries was published in English by two British doctors (Porter and Smith) who were working in China at the end of the 19th century, though extracts of it had been published in Europe since 1656. "Ben Cao Gang Mu" contains 1892 different herbs, and is divided into 6 sections, 52 scrolls and 60 different categories.

Li Shizhen, a great scientist risked his life numerous times as he researched the life and habitat of Chai snakes, who at the time were considered a precious medicine. He then also published the "Chai Snake Compilation"

Wang K'en T'ang [Wang Kentang; 1549-1613 A.D.] - Wang was a court official who later became a physician. He collected information about medicine and produced the "Liuke Zhengzhi Zhunsheng" (Standards of Diagnosis and Treatment of Six Branches of Medicine) published in 1602 A.D.; it became the most widely used medical book of the 17th century.

Wu Yu-hsing [Wu Youxing; 1582-1652 A.D.] - Wu developed the concept that some diseases were caused by transmissible agents, which he called liqi (pestilential factors). His book "Wenyi Lun" (Treatise on Acute Epidemic Febrile Diseases) can be regarded as the main etiological work that brought forward the concept, ultimately attributed to Westerners, of germs as a cause of epidemic diseases.

Chang Chin-yueh [Zhang Jingyue; 1583-1640 A.D.] - Zhang was a prolific writer and produced works on pulse diagnosis, gynecology, pediatrics, surgery, and an analysis of the Huangdi Neijing, called the "Lei Jing", which won him great fame.

Yeh Tien-shih [Ye Tianshi; ca 1690-1760 A.D.] - Ye is famous for his thesis on febrile diseases, in which he postulated transmission of the disease through four stages: wei, qi, ying, and blood. His book "Wenre Lun" (Treatise on Epidemic Fevers) published in 1746, was followed up by an even more famous book "Wenbing Tiaobian" (Detailed Analysis of Febrile Diseases) in 1798, using this four stage system as its basis.

Wang Chin ren [Wang Qingren] is famous in two areas of medicine. First, he promoted the importance of accurately understanding anatomy in order to diagnose and Treat disease, dissection and surgery had been all but ignored since the time of Hua Tuo, or Hua To, and traditional Chinese doctors had relied on a projected idea of the internal organs. Wang said that "attempting healing without knowing the internal organs is like a blind man walking in the dark." He also strongly promoted the idea that many diseases were due to blood stasis and by activating blood circulation and clearing away the static blood, one could resolve even the very serious diseases. His blood-vitalizing formulas are still used extensively.

Wu Shang-sian [Wu Shangxian; 1806-1886 A.D.] - Wu specialized in the development of low cost treatments so that poor people could get medical care at a time when medical costs were rising rapidly. The focus of his efforts were on inexpensive topical therapies, including ointments, plasters, and moxibustion.

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