Chapter

Medicine without Pharmaceutics

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0020
Medicine without Pharmaceutics

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Modern Western medicine came into being in the nineteenth century. All normal and sick processes in the body at that time were researched using chemical and physical methods and they were explained in detail. It was not until the twentieth century that the characteristic features of medications and their effects on the organism were also explained with chemistry and physics, biochemistry, and biophysics. The doctrines of systematic correspondence, yin-yang, and the five agents were used to explain only the normal and sick processes in the body. Medications and their effects were ignored. Writings from the Mawangdui tomb portray a very sophisticated pharmacy that covers the number of substances used, the variety of processing techniques for different dosage forms, and the spectrum of indications recorded in the manuscripts. Pharmacy is the backbone of traditional Chinese therapeutics even up to the present day, but this did not find acceptance in new medicine.

Keywords: Western medicine; sick processes; medications; pharmacy; Chinese therapeutics; new medicine

Chapter.  1404 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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