The acupuncture points  developed over two thousand years ago are still considered accurate by today's standards.
The acupuncture points developed over two thousand years ago are still considered accurate by today’s standards. Image courtesy of Hegu. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Shang Han Lun from the Han Dynasty

Zhang Zhong Jing (150-219 CE) wrote the Treatise on Febrile Diseases (Shang Han Lun) during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 BC – 220 CE). In the work, febrile diseases are defined as infectious illnesses caused by external pathogens. The Shang Han Lun introduced the classification of febrile diseases into six “channels,” which represent the developmental stages of a disease.

The Shang Han Lun describes each stage of the illness and suggests specific treatments, based on the progression of the illness. These treatments include acupuncture, herbal medicine and the use of moxibustion – all of which remain basic to TCM.

Zhang Zhong Jing’s work also dealt with internal illnesses and surgery. It remains an important reference work today.

Traditional Chinese Medicine:The Spread of TCM

Until the Renaissance, Asian medicine was considered the most advanced in the world. Every new generation of Chinese doctors tested and retested the knowledge passed down both orally and via written documents. The knowledge also spread to physicians from other regions via trade routes. The dissemination of medical knowledge from China to other countries contributed to the advancement of many medical systems, including Western medicine.

Dating of Chinese Dynasties

It is difficult to give the exact dates of the Chinese dynasties because they overlapped. China covers a vast expanse of territory, and different areas were under the control of different ruling families at different times. The ruling families were often at war with each other, and thus exercised sporadic control over various regions. Thus, one region might be under the control of the Zhou Dynasty while the Shang Dynasty controlled another.

In “Timeline of Chinese History and Dynasties,” the internet site Asia for Educators provides a clear timeline.


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