The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor is one of the earliest books found in the corpus of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It enunciates the systematic structure of the theoretical system of TCM and reflects the theoretical principles and academic thoughts associated with it. This theoretical system has formed the basis for development of TCM since its establishment. The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor had appeared in the Warring States Period (475 BC -- 221 BC). It had been added during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC -- 206 BC) and Han Dynasty (206 BC -- AD 24).
Plain materialist dialectics
A. The "essential qi" is the source of the generation and formation of everything. The ancient Chinese philosophers regarded that the source of the cosmos was the essential qi. Everything in the world was produced by the essential qi, namely, original qi. The qi is an invisible materialistic element that forms everything. Of course, the "everything" also encompasses the human beings. Man is endowed with the essential qi from nature, and it is called qi, essential qi, vital qi, or original qi. The concept of qi permeated the medical field. This, the idea that everything consists of qi, is inevitably shown in The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor. The qi is not only the basic material that forms the body, but also the dynamic power of the body. The life"s activities of human beings are the manifestations of movements of the qi. Different combinations of the qi may generate different things. So, according to different places an different functioning of the qi, different names of qi are determined, such as true qi, ancestral qi, nutritive qi, defensive qi, liver qi, spleen qi, heart qi, etc.
B. The materialism is highlighted. Prevailed the theories of yin-yang and the five elements in plain materialist dialectics, which were used to explain the changes of nature in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC -- 476 BC) and Warring States Period (475 BC -- 221 BC). It let more people become suspicious of the religious superstitions towards gods and ghosts. Life science was led to the realm of materialism.
C. The proposition that the life is antagonistic and united is prominent. Not only the body"s structures but also life"s activities are antagonistic and united, and too are man and nature. Everything has its two antagonistic and united sides, i.e., yin and yang. The antagonistic and united movements of the yin and yang push everything to develop forward incessantly, originating birth and death of everything.
D. Life is undergoing constant flux all the time. The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor regards the entity of nature, living things and diseases as not being motionless and still, but incessantly moving, developing and changing under the mutual actions of the yin and yang. Consequently, we should analyze and treat a disease with the idea of movement. This is the theoretical reference to syndrome identification and treatment determination in TCM.
The integral idea that man and nature are mutually corresponding
Man and nature are mutually corresponding. This is a unique feature of TCM that differs from almost all other world medicines. TCM regards the physiological processes and pathological changes of human beings are closely related to nature. Many things involved are put into correspondences organically, such as the waxing and waning of the yin and yang of nature; the five elements that constitute the world, i.e., wood, fire, soil, metal and water; the running of the sun and moon and stars. The climatic changes of spring, summer, autumn and winter; the spring generation, summer growth, autumn harvest, and winter storage; the human functional system in which the five zang-organs are the chief body, and such things, are linked up as well. The occultness and the intrinsic links of both the universe and human beings are incredibly demonstrated.