Introduction to Classical Chinese Medicine

Classical Chinese Medicine is based on the ancient Daoist medical texts of China: the Ling Shu, Su Wen, Nan Jing, Zhenjiu Dajing, Maijing, and Shang Han Lun. It relies equally on a synthesis oftextbook the laws of:

• yin and yang

• the wuxing: the five movements or phases

• the jingluo: the principal channels and their collaterals and their internal and external trajectories as well as the longitudinal, muscle, capillary channels

• the distinct channels

• the baqimai: the eight curious vessels

• the liuqi: the six energies (taiyang, shaoyang, yangming, taiyin, jueyin and shaoyin)

• the zangxiang (the organs and their associations)

• sanjiao energetics: the production of ying, wei, jing and jingshen; the production of blood and organic liquids; thermogenesis and hydrogenesis.


This medicine was not "invented" by the ancient Daoists, it was discovered. It is about the undistorted way the universe already works. Unfortunately, like so many works of art handed down through the generations, Chinese medicine has undergone many personal interpretations, mistranslations, assumptions, and fragmentations, resulting in a wide array of different "schools of thought" of energetic medicine.

To further describe what has occurred in the field, we present an excerpt from an article written by the founder and president of Jung Tao School, Dr. Sean C. Marshall:

As in any field, many professionals gravitate to and employ techniques with which they personally resonate. Physicists, for instance, sometimes engage exclusively in work with particle accelerators. Some others may be deeply interested in fluid dynamics or astrophysics or purely theoretical physics. This does not change the laws of physics. This does not produce different universes with different physical laws based on differing "schools of thought".

I paraphrase Einstein: For laws of physics to be valid, they must be true for everyone in every part of the universe. The observations of individuals may vary depending on their point of view however, -- even though the observations are as valid as is their individual point of view -- this still does not change the laws of physics.

...The message that must be taken here is -- Chinese medicine is a complete coherent, integral, interdependent and independent system of health care that must be understood within its own context, in whole, not in part, if it is to be mastered. It was born out of Daoist philosophy, which is at the heart of Chinese medicine and contains the original, guiding ideas that nurtured it into existence. Anything else is merely a fragment, no matter how elegant or seductive it may seem, it is only a specialty that, when studied in a vacuum, is merely a facet that will not reveal the jewel that produced it.

And finally, as stated by our friend and mentor Dr. Tran Viet Dzung:

"If you want to develop acupuncture, if you want to make it grow and spread, you have to be very strict in the way that you learn things, rigorous or strict in the way that we learn the words. If we employ words which are not accurate, we are not going to learn anything. Because in Chinese medicine, every single word has a deep meaning, and if we don't use them correctly, we may end up making errors. And if there are errors in comprehension we cannot help our patients, we cannot get results. And a medical science where there are no results is a science that has no future. That is why we are very strict about the terminology. "

The material contained on these pages and in our classrooms and publications is our attempt at presenting this ancient form of health care with authenticity to the original observations made by the Daoists millennia ago - authenticity to principles that are still true today, with or without interpretations or understanding by humans. Classical Chinese Medicine is not a “school of thought”, meaning it does not separate or recognize in isolation any of the above integral components as a practicable system.

It places no special preponderance on emotions or mental states, specific methods of diagnosis, pattern fitting or stereotyping. It is the study of what causes health. Each individual is unique and specific pathological processes may only occur once in any given patient and may require that any or all of the above systems be examined and employed in order to arrive at a correct diagnosis and treatment.

A Brief History of Classical Chinese Medicine:

Classical Chinese medicine is based on the original classical medicine texts written in China as early as 3000 years ago. Much of this information has been lost or discarded over the millennia, as China has undergone many cultural and political upheavals. Some examples of this are the rise of Confucianism in the 11th century BCE, where the old Daoist ideas and medical texts were banned, and even destroyed, and again in the 19th century with the introduction of Western medicine in China, when the Chinese were actually embarrassed by the “primitive” medical techniques they were using and attempted to “Westernize” Chinese medicine. What is taught in mainland China today, and therefore in many US schools, is Chinese medicine as it has evolved in China throughout these periods of immense change. Much of the original information on the art of acupuncture has been lost to modern China, which is one reason why herbal training has become so prevalent there.

However, the original texts escaped to other Asian nations, especially in the time of Confucianism when the practice of Daoist medicine was banned and the books were being destroyed. One country to receive these treasures, still intact, was Vietnam, where they were translated into ancient Vietnamese and have survived until today. Our late mentor, French-Vietnamese acupuncturist Dr. Nguyen Van Nghi, began translating these classical texts from Vietnamese into French about 40 years ago. These translations contain the information upon which Jung Tao School’s curriculum is based. The last of these texts are now being translated into French, and we at JTS are involved in the long process of bringing them into English. We were fortunate that Dr. Marshall, who founded JTS and taught Chinese medical theory at the school, studied personally with Dr. Van Nghi and received the rights from Dr. Van Nghi’s daughter for JTS to complete the translation of his books into English.

You may find some English translations of one or two of these classic texts (there are a total of 16 volumes) used in TCM schools around the country, but they are based on what is left of the Chinese versions of the information, not on the original, unaltered versions found in Vietnam. This dilemma is stated by Dr. Van Nghi in the introduction to the Ling Shu (The Celestial Hinge): “ Regrettably, the Confucian literature of our era reports: ‘Since the publication of the translation of the Lingshu into popular and Western language, the practice of acupuncture and moxibustion is lost...’. It is not about a literal loss, but a loss in quality due to translators ignorant of all medical material, distorting the thinking and extremely subtle facts of oriental energetic medicine without which acupuncture no longer makes sense.”

Our mission at Jung Tao School is to present classical Chinese medicine as authentically and completely as possible, remaining true to the Daoist principles underlying all of the science.