Story of the very first physician in China
- Posted on: Sep 14 2017
According to a Chinese legend, there was a medical sage named Bian Que who lived in the reign of the Yellow Emperor(2697 to 2597 BC). Bian Que was a legendary fabled doctor, but people gave the name to Qin Yueren, widely regarded as the first medical doctor and physician in ancient China.
Qin lived during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). He first came into contact with medicine when he was a teenager working in an inn.
One day, a guest suddenly fell sick. It happened that a folk doctor was staying in the inn at the same time. Young Qin went to ask the doctor for help. After examining the sick guest, the doctor prescribed a herbal concoction which proved to be a quick, effective cure for the patient.
Qin was so amazed by the wonderful skill of the folk doctor that he decided to become his apprentice.
In the following years, Qin traveled with the folk doctor. During the day, he carried out chores while watching closely how his master treated patients. At night, he jotted down what he had observed as well as his own understanding and thinking.
Thanks to his learning power and hard work, Qin himself soon became a very famous doctor and physician and people began to call him Bian Que, the highest honor for a doctor in ancient times.
Apart from the traditional medical skills he had learned from other doctors and experiences, Bian Que also invented his own methods. For instance, he founded the “Four Diagnostic Methods,” namely, looking (or observing a patient’s complexion and tongue), listening (to a patient’s voice and breathing patterns), inquiring (about a patient’s physical conditions and symptoms) and taking (a patient’s pulse).Even today, the four methods remain a foundation for diagnoses in traditional Chinese medicine.
Bain Que also left numerous episodes of tales that became a guideline for later practitioners of TCM.
One day, the King called Bian Que to him and asked who among three brothers of Bian Que was the best physican.
Bian Que answered the his oldest brother was the best, second brother was better than himself and Bian Que himself was just an average practitioner. The king was completely stunned by the answer, asked why and how Bian Que’s brothers were better.
Bian Que answered the king that his oldest brother believed in a lot of prevention. He looked for the source of illness and treats problems before people even feel anything. So, his patients didn’t even realize how much he had done for them, and they didn’t talk about him much.
Bian Que went on to explain that his second brother treated people at the first sign of a disease. They were having some symptoms, so he treated them before they got any worse. Because of this, people noticed that he had helped them, and he had become fairly well-known in his home town.
But for Bian Que himself, he knew people came to see him as a last resort. His patients were already very sick and he was forced to use the strongest herbs, the most powerful acupuncture treatments. He even performed surgeries! Even then, he couldn’t help everyone because they were already too ill. But sometimes he was able to save some lives. That was the kind of thing people liked to talk about, so he
Story as such carries powerful and important messages to all healthcare practitioners, not just TCM doctors.
Throughout his life time, Bian Que left many stories and and also published books to inherit his understanding of human life and performed miracles all over China. Unfortunately, in 310 BC, Bian Que was assassinated by Li Mi, a royal medical officer in the State of Qin out of professional jealousy.
Today, Bian Que remains a household name in China and the highest idol and role model for any TCM practitioners.
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