Traditional Chinese Medicine to apply for world cultural heritage.

Traditional Chinese Medicine to apply for world cultural heritage.

As early as 2006' experts decided to apply to UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) for world cultural heritage for eight Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) items.


These items are the theory of TCM science, health preservation, diagnosis, prescription, medicine, acupuncture and medicines of various ethnic minorities (Tibetan and Mongolian).

The director-general of the department of International Cooperation, state administration of TCM (SATCM) Shen Zhixian said that SATCM has conducted the last phase of study and collation of material on TCM. This process includes compiling the list of items to be protected. A draft has been finished and will be submitted to UNESCO within the year.

In more detail the eight items to be listed are:

  • Yin and Yang
  • The Five Elements
  • Channels (odd) and (eight) collaterals
  • TCM diagnosis methods and theories (watch, hear, ask and touch)
  • Health preservation through eating and drinking (Chinese dietetics)
  • Health preservation through exercise (Five-animal frolics Qi-Gong)
  • Massage and cupping
  • Acupuncture and decoction

Shen stated that "We apply to UNESCO for world cultural heritage for a package of eight Traditional Chinese Medicine items because TCM is too profound". The fear other countries will apply is another reason - If China does not apply to UNESCO for world cultural heritage Japan and South Korea will most likely follow that path.

Alot of experts in favor of the heritage application are concerned about the future development of TCM. In the early 20th century there were a total of 800,000 people in the profession declining to 500,000 in 1949. Today there are 270,000 practitioners with only 10 percent of doctors of TCM giving their patients a prescription of decoction healing. This means that less than 30,000 doctors in China are practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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