The Origin and Development of Chinese Herbal Medicine

In China 80% of TCM doctors work with herbal medicine and only 20% of them work with acupuncture. The total amount of Chinese herbal medicines used is 12,807. 11,146 are of plant origin. 1581 are of animal origin and 80 are from minerals. Because most Chinese medicines are from plants the are called 'herbs'. From prehistoric times to the early 20th century, Chinese herbs have lead in preventing and treating disease for Chinese people, they have saved many lives and its the reason why the Chinese population is the largest in the world. Chinese Herbal Medicine originated in ancient times when people were looking for food. A ruller called Shen Nong taught his people how to cultivate grains as food to avoid killing animals. He tasted 70 herbs a day to test their medical value for his people. Shen Nong is considered to be the father of Chinese agriculture and herbal medicine. During the Zhou Dynasty Wan Wu( means everything in the world) was written, 70 herbs were described in it. Jin Dynasty -Ben Cao Jin Ji Zhu and Pao Jiu Lun were later written.

Sui and Tang Dynasty (581-907) Chinese Herbal Medicine Xin Xiu Ben Cao was published. Shin Nong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Husbandman's Classic of Chinese Herbal Medicine) is the earliest and one of the most valuable books of Chinese Herbal Medicine. More than 200 herbs in current herbal text books are from the Hing Nong Ben Cao Jing. In total it contains details of 365 herbs.

By 960 up until 1368 a total of 1700 different kinds of herbal medicine were established. From 1368 to 1644 the Ben Cao Gang Mu ( Grand Chinese Herbal Medicine was written in 1590 AD. It contains 1892 chinese herbal medications. The Encyclopedia of Chinese Herbal Medicine was compiled. It included 4300 detailed herbs. Since 1956 TCM universities have been established in China. Since then TCM pharmacology department's have existed within the universities. Zhong Hua Ben Cao (Book of Chinese Herbal Medicine) has been published since then. It list 8534 herbal medicines.

Habitat and Collection of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Habitats of Chinese herbal medication are based on Soil, Water, Climate, Sunshine and Rainfall. Best quality of herbs that come from a specific are are called 'Dao Di Yao Cai'. Best Ren Shen is from Northeast of China, Best FU Ling is from Yun Nan province, Best Huang Lian is from Si Chuan province, Best Di Huang is from He Nan province, Best Er Jiao is from Shan Dong province.

Plant origin herbs collection

Entire grass collected when flower is in full bloom, leaves are collected when their flowers are in bloom. Flowers are collected when they are blooming. Fruits are collected when they are ripe. Roots are collected in late autumn or spring. Barks are collected in spring or early summer. Animal origin herbs are collected at different times, mineral origin medication herbs are collected at any time.

The study of Chinese herbs is so in depth that the study of it is a life long application. In any TCM practice herbs accompany an acupuncture treatment and any other modality administered. In China there are about 30 pubic TCM universities. Graduates from these departments are pharmacist working for pharmaceutical companies. Chinese herbs have become more scientific and divided into sub sections with in the pharmaceutical umbrella.

In my opinion, when deciding on the right acupuncturist, look for who is knowledgable in chinese herbs or homeopathic. In addition to nutrition and acupuncture natural medicines can increase the effect of the treatment received. Chinese medicine has been proven to be the most effective.