Surgical instrument set, Chinese, 18th-19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Steel instruments in a folding leather case decorated with Chinese characters. Chinese medicine is based on ancient texts that relate philosophy and cosmology to the body and health. The earliest texts date from around 200 BC and describe the 'chi' or 'qi', the life force that must be nurtured and balanced throughout the body. They also describe the system of opposites known as 'Yin Yang'. Traditional treatments are diverse and include herbal remedies, acupuncture, masage and meditation, dietary and lifestyle advice, and other techniques including moxibustion and cupping as well as some surgical procedures. In China today, traditional medicine is practised alongside Western medicine.