National Geographic takes its viewers behind the scenes of a traditional Chinese medicine shop in Chengdu and its herbal tea remedy. Via National Geographic:
Few subjects ignite more heated debate in health circles than traditional Chinese medicine. It’s further complicated by the work of researchers like Iaizzo and many others who are looking at traditional cures through the lens of cutting-edge science and finding some interesting surprises—surprises that could have profound impacts on modern medicine. Cultures from the Arctic to the Amazon and Siberia to the South Pacific have developed their own medicine chests of traditional cures. But China, with one of the oldest continuous accumulations of documented medical observations, offers the biggest trove for scientists to sift through.
The Chinese record dates back to the third century B.C., when healers began analyzing the body, interpreting its functions, and describing its reactions to various treatments, including herbal remedies, massage, and acupuncture. For more than 2,200 years, generations of scholars added to and refined the knowledge. The result is a canon of literature dealing with every sort of health problem, including the common cold, venereal disease, paralysis, and epilepsy. This knowledge is contained in books and manuscripts bearing such enigmatic titles as The Pulse Classic (third century), Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold (seventh century), and Essential Secrets From Outside the Metropolis (eighth century).
Traditional medicine remained the primary form of health care in China until the early 20th century, when the last Qing emperor was overthrown by Sun Yat-sen, a Western-trained doctor who promoted science-based medicine. Today Chinese physicians are trained and licensed according to state-of-the-art medical practices. Yet traditional medicine remains a vibrant part of the state health care system. Most Chinese hospitals have a ward devoted to ancient cures. Citing traditional medicine’s potential to lower costs and yield innovative treatments, not to mention raise China’s prestige, President Xi Jinping has made it a key part of the country’s health policy. He has called the 21st century a new golden age for traditional medicine.