Origin of Oriental Medicine | How Chinese Medicine Started

Origin of East Asian Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest complete health systems recorded. It is based on the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 2,000 years. It encompasses many different practices such as acupuncture, moxibustion (herbal external heat treatment), herbal medicine, diet, movement therapy (Tai Chi and Qi Gong) as well as massage (Tui Na).

The first evidence of some form of acupuncture even dates back about 6,000 years ago when specially shaped stone tools were found for making small incisions in the skin.


Much of what we know about traditional Chinese medicine derives from a book called Huang Di Neijing, ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine’, a massive encyclopaedia written over 2,000 years ago which included already a detailed section on anatomy and pathology.

In this book, the ancient Chinese physicians described how diseases developed and how to treat them with the above-mentioned different practices of acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, diet and lifestyle. It forms the beginning of preventative and lifestyle medicine, already established over 2,000 years ago, a remarkable achievement, as we only catch on now in the Western world.

Other Asian countries including Japan and Korea were heavily influenced by Traditional Chinese medicine, but each has developed distinctive features of their own.