A History of Oriental Herbal Medicine

It is said that Oriental Herbal Medicine began thousands of years ago when a farmer found a snake near his hut, which he then beat with a hoe and left for dead. A few days later, the farmer found the snake slithering around and again tried to kill it. Another few days passed and the snake miraculously reappeared in the farmer’s plot. The farmer beat the snake again, but this time he followed it and watched the snake crawl into a clump of weeds that it began to eat. The next day the snake was already on the mend, its wounds healing. The clump of weeds is now the main ingredient of a Chinese Herbal formula YunNan BaiYao, which stops bleeding (internal or external) by bonding the edges of wounds and quickly healing torn tissue.

The actual origins of Oriental Herbal Medicine can be traced back to an ancient text written between 200 BCE and 100 ACE. This text, the Inner Classic, contains the earliest known mention of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of Chinese Medicine. Within the Inner Classic there is mention of 12 herbal prescriptions, with a total of 28 individual substances. The following 2000 years gave rise to an increase in the number of substances and a corresponding increase in the number of formulae. This increase is due in part to the inclusion of herbs from the Oriental Folk traditions, as well as the importation of herbs from other parts of the world.

How does Oriental herbal medicine differ from homeopathy…
In brief, homeopaths use only the homeopathic approach, whereas Oriental Medicine practitioners train in several forms of diagnosis and treatment, one of which is Oriental Herbal Medicine, which icontains homeopathy.  Training in homeopathy varies from a several-hundred-hour correspondence course to a three-year course for which candidates need not be university graduates.  In contrast, Oriental Medicine practitioners must complete a minimum of two years of university training prior to beginning their four-year residential medical school training in Oriental Medicine.