Part 1: Introduction of Chinese Massage History
Chinese massage has a long history and dates back to the ancient times. Archaeological studies in recent years have found that as early as the late period of the New Stone Age (around 2,700 B.C.), Chinese ancestors in the Yellow River valley began to summarize the initial experience in massage gradually accumulated by their forefathers in their struggle for life. This transformed the spontaneous medical treatment that originated from self -security instinct into a primeval medical application for the health of early human race.
It was recorded in one ancient book that a famous doctor in the reign of Emperor Huang called Xu Fu used the ancient massage technique "anwu" in his clinical practice.
At the time of the Shang Dynasty, primitive witch doctors were very popular. They were socially prestigious, dominant in administering incantation, praying, fortune telling and the medicine affairs. They often used folk arts including massage to show their miraculous power for the religious and superstitious purposes. That is why the witch officials were also called "miraculous doctors." It was recorded in the unearthed oracle inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty that the female witch doctor Bi could treat the patients with massage-like skills. This testifies that massage technique of that time had reached quite a high level.
In the time of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States, owing to the collapse of slavery system, the idealistic concept of religious authority began to be in a shake while the simple materialistic theory of yin and yang were developed. Those witch doctors of the old days emerged from the people and gradually became doctors mastering practical medical skills. This social change promoted the development of ancient medicine.
Take medical terminology for example, the treatment with hand pressing, kneading and stroking was then called massage, the treatment of making the patients relax and extend their hands and feet and breath in prone or supine position was called leading (pressing) or stepping while the combination of the two manipulations was called pressing and stepping or stepping and rubbing. In practice, the forms of manipulation gradually reach their perfection, with its application range obviously expanded and its therapeutic effect enhanced.
Bian Que, a famous doctor at the time, was an example in practicing massage and acupuncture as a comprehensive treatment. He got crown prince Guo's syncope cured with a miraculous effect of bringing the dead back to life. In addition, records of the folk use of massage therapy can be found in many unauthoritive medical writings of the time such as Lao Zi, Meng Zi, Xun Zi and Mo Zi.
Up to the dynasties of Qin, Han and the Three Kingdoms, Chinese people came to sum up the experience that had been accumulated and recorded improvement in the methods that had been invented in the earlier times, contributing greatly to the publication of the first medical book on massage--not only in the history of China and but also in the history of the world--ten volumes of Classics on Massare of Yellow Emperor and Qi Bo.
Unfortunately, this book was lost. Yet, it is quite lucky that another great medical book The Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic published in the same period with many chapters concerning massage. This book is comprehensive in massage subject, covering such fields as the massage origination, manipulation methods, clinical application, indications, therapeutic principles and so on. For example, in terms of massage manipulation, a dozen manipulation methods such as pushing, pressing, rubbing, stepping and pulling are mentioned in this book and in regard of indications, acute and chronic diseases such as dreadfulness, syncope with flacidity, cold and heat, spleen-wind, blockage of channels, abdominal pain due to cold, etc. are listed in detail. Incisive expositions were made in the book especially on mechanism of manipulation therapy and some of them are still guiding today's clinical practice.
Later, Zhang Zhongjing, a medical saint of the Eastern Han Dynasty, mentioned and recorded for the first time the "gaomo" treatment in his book Treatise on Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases. Using such methods practitioners should prepare some ointment in advance and smear it on a certain part of the skin. Then manipulations of stroking, rubbing, scrubbing and kneading should be administered on this part to achieve a combined effect of massage and medicine. This not only can enhance the therapeutic effect, but also extend the application range of massage. The famous doctor Hua Tuo of Three-Kingdom Period was especially good at treating febrile diseases and removing superficial pathogen from the skin with gaomo therapy.
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ChangChou Chinese TCM (Tuina) Hospital
ChangChou, Jinan, Shandong Province, China 321503
Email: Dr. ZhangLie