‘To fight a disease after it has occurred is like trying to dig a well when one is thirsty…’
from The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine
Much of the philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine derives from the same philosophical principles Taoist and Buddhist philosophies are based on and reflects the ancient Chinese belief that there is an intimate relationship between the activity of humans and their natural environment.
Early Traditional Chinese Medicine originated with Taoist masters who developed an extraordinary sense of the body and its inner working through their many hours of meditation and who had an advanced perception of the interrelation of the human body with the seasons and nature.
One of the oldest medical treatises on traditional Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine indeed reflect that Taoist ideal of reaching longevity by living responsibly and in accordance with the laws of nature.
In the opening Chapter of the treatise, the Yellow Emperor asked the Taoist master Qibo how people in ancient times were able to survive to an old age and remain healthier and stronger than the people of his time. Qibo answered:
Those who knew the way of keeping a good health in ancient times always kept their behavior in daily life in accordance with nature. […] They were able to modulate their daily life in harmony with the way of recuperating the essence and vital energy, thus they could master and practise the way of preserving good health.
People learned the art of life through seasons and ‘cultivated’ their health. Doctors focused on keeping people healthy rather than treating a person who was already suffering from disease. Accordingly, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine stated that, “the sages of antiquity did not treat those who were already sick, but those who were not sick …”
At the Clinic, we consider this focus of Chinese medicine as preventive medicine, a key aspect of our practice.