The foundation principles of Chinese
medicine are not necessarily uniform, and are based on several schools
of thought. Received TCM are shown to have been influenced by Taoism,
Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism.
Since 1200 BC, Chinese academics of various schools have focused on
observable natural laws and their implications for the practical
characterization of humanity's place. In the I Ching and other Chinese
literary and philosophical classics, Chinese writers described general
principles and their applications to health and healing.
Porkert, a Western medical doctor, placed Chinese medical theory in
Chinese medicine, like many other Chinese sciences, defines data on
the basis of the inductive and synthetic mode of cognition. Inductivity
corresponds to a logical link between two effective positions existing
at the same time in different places in space. (Conversely, causality is
the logical link between two effective positions given at different
times at the same place in space.) In other words, effects based on
positions that are separate in space yet simultaneous in time are
mutually inductive and thus are called inductive effects. In Western
science prior to the development of electrodynamics and nuclear physics
(which are founded essentially on inductivity), the inductive nexus was
limited to subordinate uses in proto-sciences such as astrology. Now
Western man, as a consequence of two thousand years of intellectual
tradition, persists in the habit of making causal connections first and
inductive links, if at all, only as an afterthought. This habit must
still be considered the biggest obstacle to an adequate appreciation of
Chinese science in general and Chinese medicine in particular. Given
such different cognitive bases, many of the apparent similarities
between traditional Chinese and European science which attract the
attention of positivists turn out to be spurious.
The Shen Nong's Herbal Classic, a 2,000-year old book considered as the
oldest book on oriental herbal medicine, classifies 365 species of
roots, grass, woods, furs, animals and stones into three categories:
- Superior: Herbs effective for multiple diseases that are mostly
responsible for maintaining and restoring the body balance. They have
almost no unfavorable side-effects.
- Tonics and boosters: Consumption must not be prolonged.
- Remedies: Taken usually in small doses, for the treatment of specific
Lingzhi mushrooms ranked
number one of the superior medicines, was therefore the most exalted
medicine. The ancient Chinese use of mushrooms for medicine has inspired
modern day research into medicinal mushrooms like lingzhi, shiitake,
Agaricus blazei, Trametes versicolor and the table mushroom. Highly
purified compounds isolated from medicinal mushrooms like lentinan (from
Shiitake), and Polysaccharide-K, (from Trametes versicolor), have become
incorporated into the health care system of countries such as Japan. The
compounds are used to stimulate the immune system and promote health.