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Posted by Imperial Harvest on 23 February 2024

The Art of Medicine in Chinese Metaphysics

Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins

The Five Arts (五术) is a cornerstone of Chinese metaphysics, capturing the essence of a well-rounded approach towards self-improvement and harmonious living. These arts are defined as Mountain (山), Medicine (医), Divination (卜), Physical Inspection (相), and Destiny (命).

Key Disciplines within the Art of Medicine

From the context of Chinese metaphysics, the Art of Medicine often refers to the study and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Within this comprehensive system, the Art of Medicine integrates the principles of Yin and Yang (阴阳), the Five Elements (五行), Qi (气), and the Meridian system — considered passageways for energy flow throughout the body, into its foundational principles. Its primary goals are maintaining health, treating illnesses, and rejuvenating the body by balancing these elemental forces.

The practice of TCM emphasises the importance of daily habits and lifestyle choices in maintaining bodily harmony. This comprehensive approach extends to various therapeutic practices, including acupuncture, herbal remedies, cupping, moxibustion, and Tui Na massage, each serving as essential preventive care and healing tools.

Traditional Chinese Medicine categorises the human body’s organs into Yin and Yang categories and aligns them with the Five Elements. Good health, especially within this discipline, is achieved when these five elements are balanced. Therapies like acupuncture (针灸), acupressure (指压), massage (按摩), and herbal medicine (中药) are employed to restore and maintain this balance.


This approach considers not only the physical but also the emotional and mental aspects of well-being, highlighting the interconnected nature of body, mind, and spirit.

Tracing the History of the Art of Medicine

During the Warring States period (476 to 221 BC), various schools of thought on the Art of Medicine emerged, most notably being the “Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon”《黄帝内经》. This seminal Chinese medical text was revered for over two millennia, being a fundamental source for doctrines in Chinese medicine. Comprising two volumes, it laid the theoretical groundwork for traditional Chinese medicine, covering diagnostic methods and discussing acupuncture as a medical treatment.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine became more prominent methods of medical treatment and maintaining health during the Han dynasty (202 BC to 9 AD, 25 to 220 AD). Zhang Zhongjing (張仲景), a Chinese pharmacologist and physician, authored the foundational text “Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases”《伤寒杂病论》during this period. This text was essential to the advancement of Chinese medicine, propelling medical knowledge forward.

The Tang dynasty ushered in further advancements, notably introducing pulse diagnosis and expanding the use of moxibustion in treatment. At this time, Sun Simiao (孙思邈), a revered physician and Taoist monk, contributed significantly with his work “Essential Formulas Worth a Thousand in Gold for Emergencies”《備急千金要方》, which meticulously detailed medical disorders, diagnoses, and treatments.

The Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644 AD) saw Li Shizhen (李时珍), a renowned physician and author, compile the monumental “Compendium of Materia Medica”《本草纲目》, an encyclopedic treasury encompassing knowledge of Chinese medicine, natural history, and herbology. Today, this comprehensive work remains a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine, offering extensive insights into medicinal herbs and shaping the field for centuries to come.

Modern Applications of the Art of Medicine

Today, Traditional Chinese Medicine remains widely practiced globally. Its practices, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, and Tui Na massages, are widely embraced as alternative medical treatments.

Traditional Chinese medicine has been the subject of research and clinical trials worldwide, with studies investigating its efficacy in treating various conditions, from chronic pain to infertility.

With a rich and profound historical legacy, the Art of Medicine is a comprehensive approach towards healthcare that significantly impacts our modern medical practices. It considers physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of health, providing valuable holistic insights in pursuing health and well-being.

Imperial Harvest’s expert consultants are always on hand to guide you on your journey and provide you with insights to help you realise your fullest potential. Book a complimentary consultation today or contact us at +65 91221826.

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