The history of medicine in Asia dates back to the days of dynasties and emperors. The Shang Dynasty that existed between the 14th and 11th centuries BCE had medical practices within its society (Bynum et al, Page 12-54). Even though historians argue that the Shang never had a clear concept of medicine, certain practices showed that they engaged in medical activities, however, primitive they were. Various inscriptions that the Shang community did on tortoise shells and bones refer to various illnesses that affected the Shang royal family. Most inscriptions relate to diseases such as toothaches, eye disorders, and bloated abdomens. These diseases were common with the royal family members of the Shang dynasty. In spite of all the inscriptions on the shells and stones, there is no concrete evidence that the Shang dynasty used herbal medicine. Medicine in Asian can also be traced to India and Greece as most of the medical practices were carried out in the communities within these countries. This paper, therefore, discusses the history of medicine in Asia with a view to establishing the root of Asian medicine.
Greeks had recognized the important role that was played by the physicians as early as 1000 years before the birth of Christ (Leong et al, Page 23-35). The physicians treated injured warriors as stated in the works of Homer, who is a renowned researcher. The Greeks furthered their medical practices and was closer to the practices in Egypt. India is another country that practiced medicine that dates back as early as the Iron age. Though this period is characterized by texts depicting medical practices, there are other elements that show the community carried out exorcism and even practiced magic. India also had a system of medicine known as Ayurveda that stands for complete knowledge for longer life. This explains why the country had a well-established system of herbal medicine. Therefore, history of herbal medicine within Asia can be traced to India that practiced it in the early days before the development of contemporary medicine.
The histories of the three nations leave one with the question of the source of medicine within Asia (Bynum et al, Page 32-65). China, through the Shang dynasty, had practices that are related to medicine, even though, there is no concrete evidence showing that the Shang involved themselves with medical practices. The inscriptions on stones and tortoise shells only refer to suspected practices that were carried out on illnesses. The practices were meant to ease pains associated with toothaches, bloated stomachs and eye disorders. Either, the diseases that are referred to only affected the royal family. Nothing is said about the other members of society or whether the practices were systematic.
India also had an organized system of herbal medicine that they practiced for a very long time, even though; the history does not give the timelines of the herbal practice (Leong et al, Page 36-45). The herbal practices are said to have come at a time when other parts of the world had already discovered medicine practices. This, therefore, leaves Greek as the only country with a history of organized medical practices that dates back as early as 1000 years before Christ. This period surpasses the time that medicine was practiced in both China and India. Greek had physicians who were charged with the responsibility of treating warriors who were wounded in the battlefields. This clearly shows that the history of medicine can be traced to Greek where structured medical practices existed in the form of physicians. The medical practices in Greek were started by the warriors who engaged in wars. They are the group that was in dire need of the services of these physicians. It can, therefore, be concluded that the Asian medicine had its roots in Greek and was started by the warriors.
Bynum, William F., And Roy Porter, Eds. Companion Encyclopedia Of The History Of Medicine. Routledge, 2013.
Leong, Frederick TL, And Sumie Okazaki. "History Of Asian American Psychology." Cultural Diversity And Ethnic Minority Psychology 15.4 (2009): 352.