Promotion of traditional Chinese medicine in the basic medical service centers of the house of the former “king of medicine”

A man receives acupuncture treatment at a medical service center in Tongchuan Village, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. Photo: Xiao Yi/China Economic Weekly

In the hometown of Chinese “king of medicine” Sun Simiao, renowned physician of the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties and author of the first Chinese encyclopedia of clinical practice, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is inherited and practiced to offer treatment and relieve pain experienced by local residents, becoming an important supplement to basic medical services in Tongchuan, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

At a local TCM Sun Simiao service center, a Global Times reporter saw a patient with neck pain receiving acupuncture treatment – inserting thin needles into the skin at key points (xuewei in Chinese) of the body to relieve pain and treat disease.

Doctor Zhang Zhijian helped the patient do some stretching and inserted some needles into different points on the patient’s neck and shoulders. Zhang removed and reinserted the needle on some of the xuewei induce repeated stimulation of the body.

The effectiveness of acupuncture has been continually questioned by modern medicine, but such therapy is “effective according to many patients over the centuries” and remains popular in China and many other Asian countries.

Zhang’s patient told the Global Times that the piercing “doesn’t hurt but feels like an ant bite. However, my shoulders are much lighter after the treatment.” Zhang noted that to maintain such efficacy, long-term treatment is necessary.

Acupuncture is one of the TCM techniques listed as eligible for wider promotion. It is taught at local medical service centers in Tongchuan to diversify the treatments available to local residents and improve public health outcomes.

So far, 27 village medical centers, 8 community medical centers and two hospitals have been transformed to offer TCM services in addition to Western medicine, the Global Times has learned from the Tongchuan government.

Each year, the doctors from the village medical centers will participate in training sessions organized at the district and county levels. The program mainly focuses on TCM techniques suitable for promotion, which also include cupping and moxibustion.

“They are mainly used to relieve pain and treat people who are not sick but in poor health. And it is convenient for many villagers who do not have a nearby hospital to receive regular treatment,” added Zhang.

Tongchuan has been designated a model city for the advancement of TCM techniques likely to be promoted in 2021, which is a uniquely significant honor for Sun Simiao’s hometown.

Sun recorded his experience with herbal formulas and his knowledge of medicine in his famous 30-volume work, earning the authorship of the first Chinese encyclopedia of clinical practice.

He believed that good health lies in engaging in light work without becoming fatigued by excessive work. Sun also advocated the use of massage therapies, physical exercises and breathing exercises, which resonate with some modern methods to maintain good health.