How the Ancient Chinese Perceived Health and Aging


The article was excerpted from Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine – Plain Conversation, which is the earliest extant medical canon in China that records the achievements of medicine made by Chinese people in ancient times.

“Huangdi (Yellow Emperor) asked his master Qibo, ‘I am told that people in ancient times all could live for 100 years without any signs of senility. But people nowadays begin to become old at the age of 50. Is it due to the change of environment or the violation of the way to preserve health?'”

“Qibo answered:’The sages in ancient time who knew the Tao (Law of Nature to cultivate health) followed the rules of Yin and Yang and adjusted Shushu (the ways to cultivate health). they were moderate in eating and drinking, regular in working and resting, avoiding any overstrain. That’s why they could maintain a desirable harmony between the Shen (mind or spirit) and the body, enjoying good health and a long life.

People nowadays, just behave oppositely. They drink alcohol as thin rice gruel, regard wrong as right, and seek sexual pleasure after being drunk. As a result, their JingQi (Essence energy, the source of life) is exhausted and ZhengQi (Genuine energy) is wasted. They seldom take measures to keep an exuberance of JingQi (Essence energy) and do not know how to regulate the Shen (mind or spirit), often giving themselves to sensual pleasure. Being irregular in daily life, then the sign of senility begin to emerge.'”


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