Acupuncture and herbal medicine

The cultural legacy of Early Imperial China

how it started

Chinese interest in nutrition, surgery and healing can be traced back over 3000 years to the time of the Zhou dynasty. Chinese doctors recognised the links between health and a person's eating habits and emotions. They encouraged their patients to avoid stress and strive for harmony in their lives.


Chinese doctors used acupuncture — the insertion of long, sharp needles under the skin — to alleviate pain and promote healing. They based their use of this on the belief that illness resulted from an imbalance in the forces of yin and yang. Acupuncturists have identified more than 360 points in the human body that can be stimulated, by inserting fine needles, to relieve or cure particular medical problems.

herbal medicine

Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) involves the use of natural products to treat medical problems. This practice dates back to at least the third century BC. People who followed the Daoist religion supported it, and Daoist doctors were very successful in identifying the healing properties of different herbs and plant extracts.

Today people all over the world practise traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) through both acupuncture and herbal medicine. People who practise traditional western medicine are researching the benefits of CHM. They are looking at how it can be used in conjunction with western medicine.