Journal of Alternative Complementary & Integrative Medicine Category: Medicine Type: Research Article

The Early Development of the Western Regions

Shu Wen Li1*
1 Department of endocrinology, Western Medicine, Inner Mongolia International Mongolian Medical Hospital, China

*Corresponding Author(s):
Shu Wen Li
Department Of Endocrinology, Western Medicine, Inner Mongolia International Mongolian Medical Hospital, China

Received Date: Jul 04, 2022
Accepted Date: Jul 08, 2022
Published Date: Jul 15, 2022


The industrious and brave Uyghurs have lived in the western regions for generations, creating and developing western region medicine while developing production. The original medical treatment originated from the self-protection of primitive humans. Early interactions with nature led to a spontaneous search for medicines and techniques and the realization that some plants could cure diseases, such as massage, pinching, kneading, rubbing, bone setting, and simple surgery. During this period, superstition and sorcery were also accompanied in the process of curing diseases. This is also the medical activity of the farming and nomadic peoples in Central Asia’s hinterland before the opening of the silk road.


Embryonic; National Medicine; Xinjiang region


The Uyghurs in Xinjiang (formerly known as the “Western Regions”) worked for generations [1], lived and multiplied, developed a culture of production and prosperity, compared and absorbed the medical achievements of the Han and other nationalities, and formed a relatively complete system of medical theories. They has accumulated unique clinical experience, created, enriched and developed its own traditional medicine, and has become an important component of Chinese medicine [2,3].

Original Experience Treatment Stage the Living Characteristics of the Nationalities in the Western Regions and the Germination of Medicine

In the long process of material production and life, primitive humans gradually produced early medical activities that completely depended on experience through practice. Throughout Xinjiang, seasonal rivers and lakes are scattered everywhere. In summer, the snow and ice on the snowy mountains melt, moistening the surrounding basin into large oases and grasslands. In all seasons, the river immediately became gurgling. Basin oasis, with the fertile countryside, high mountains, long rivers and rich green grass, is a good place to develop the nomadic industry. The people of all ethnic groups in the ancient western regions lived in this beautiful land like a fairyland. The unique natural environment is very suitable for hunting and nomadic way of life [4]. In the Neolithic age, people in the ancient western regions made stone arrows, stone knives, stone spears, sharp tools, scrapers and other tools for hunting, animal husbandry and collection. In order to find water, grass and prey, they often migrate and live a very difficult life [5]. 

The hunting and nomadic lifestyle of the ancient western people determined that they had no fixed residence and regular diet. Due to living in caves and fields, is often eroded by wind, rain, cold and heat, which easily infect the body with various diseases. It is easy to hurt the intestines and stomach by eating the fruits and raw meat of plants and plants. Trauma often occurs due to wars between tribes. In this case, the spontaneous behavior of looking for medicine and medical skills has gradually emerged. About 2000 years ago, during the Neolithic period in the western regions, primitive tribal peoples living in the grasslands, mountains and deserts of Northwest China began to realize that plants could cure diseases [6]. Washing hot springs, covering animal skins, applying milk and burying hot sand can relieve cold joint pain, bleeding can reduce dry and hot desert headache, and cutting the posterior ear vein can cure horseback joint pain. Smearing sticky cheese and garlic juice on the limbs and burning vanilla can prevent pests [7]. There are also many medical methods, such as wiping oil, drying, baking, soaking willow leaves in water, hot compress the sand skin, drenching herbal medicine, wearing garlic on the neck, putting garlic in food, massage, finger, kneading, kneading, bone grafting, simple surgery and so on [8]. It is recorded in the Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic Su Wen : “the west is the land of gold and stone, the place of sand and stone, and the collection and introduction of heaven and earth. Its people live in the mausoleum and are windy, the soil and water are strong, its people wear cloth and brown recommendation, and its people eat Chinese food and fat, so it can not hurt its body. Its disease is born in the interior, and its price is poison. Therefore, the poison also comes from the West”. 

In the biography of various countries published by India from 1200 to 1300 A.D., there is a legend that about 3000 years ago, a man named Haziwayi in Tarim discovered seven kinds of therapeutic substances, such as fennel, yellow chebula, Viola, senna leaf, food injury, salt and meat, which can relieve people of the suffering of diseases. A few years later, the medicine book recording these drugs attracted the envoys of the Greek Kingdom. In order to get the medicine book, the Greek King once promised to build a palace and marry a princess for Tarim. This legend can reflect that the ancient medicine of the western regions, which was in its infancy, had a high level at that time [9].

The Coexistence of Witchcraft and Early Medicine the Competition between Ancient Medicine and Religious Medicine in the Western Regions

As the British scholar, Robert writes in the History of medicine: “If medicine is man’s conscious attempt to fight disease, then medicine is as old as self-awareness itself” [10]. In ancient times, people in the ancient western regions had the same understanding of the world as other nations, mainly based on understanding the true nature, without adding other foreign elements. This understanding basically belongs to simple historical materialism. After entering the clan society, the production level has been improved. However, due to their superficial knowledge, when they can not explain the natural phenomena (sun, moon, mountain, river, thunder, electricity, rain, snow, drought) and life phenomena (disease and death), they worship nature and form tuxin thought and ghost and God thought. Uighur ancestors had quite a number of ancient medicines and medical treatments, which were influenced by the fantasy world outlook derived from the primitive commune system. They believe that everything in the universe is ruled by divine power. It seems that the soul acts on the nature, and the causes of some diseases are often attributed to the activities of ghosts and gods. 

With the disintegration of clan commune and the emergence of class, the relationship of private property exploitation appeared, and various forms of gods system appeared [4]. Such as the LORD God, the patron god, the guardian of heaven and history, the Holy Spirit, good elves, evil elves, etc., and the hierarchy is strict. Residents began to differentiate into special diviners, astrologers, sacrificial tongs, witch doctors, magicians and wizards. Later, witches who specialized in prayer and sacrifice came into being, and gradually formed religion. Witches act on behalf of the interests of the class, make use of their medical knowledge, treat patients in a similar attitude to ghosts and gods, and treat patients with the way of superstition and magic, resulting in the phenomenon of mixing doctors and witches and hindering the development of medicine. 

All kinds of witches in the ancient western regions converted to certain religions. At that time, the oldest and main sects were Shamanism and Taoism. Shamanist witches are the main representatives of professional witchcraft. In addition to Shamanism and Taoism, the people of the ancient western regions also accepted Jingjiao, Manichaeism and Buddhism. However, in explaining and preventing diseases, it is mainly influenced by Shamanism. Even among Uighurs in some areas, some Shamanist witchcraft customs of witch doctors still exist [11]. 

Witches are often a mixture of medicine and witches. They treat people’s diseases, divine, prophesy, remove evil spirits and kill ghosts. At that time, people seemed to know all kinds of things. Shaman wizards had a deep influence on the people of the ancient Western Regions. The basic feature of Shamanism is to deify nature and man, especially the soul after death. According to the belief of Shamanism, on the one hand, it is believed that after people die, the soul of the dead will come back. On the other hand, I think the world is full of the souls of countless people and animals. Souls are divided into two categories: good souls and evil souls. The evil soul is the devil, the enemy of man, and the root of disease and disaster [11]. 

According to this basic creed, Shamanist wizards also rely on the means of telling letters, although they also use natural material means to diagnose and treat diseases. In this way, we can move the gods and good souls, use their power to defeat the devil and achieve the goal of curing diseases. Therefore, Shamanist witches, when treating diseases, either recite spells to expel "ghosts" to the desert or lead them to other places (objects and animals), or lure patients into cans, seal the mouth of the cans and throw them into the water bottom, or bury the patients deep in the soil, or burn cotton balls on the patients to make a fire, or wear amulets on the neck of the patients to prevent evil and protect the body [12]. The remnants of this religious witchcraft can sometimes be seen today. In some remote and remote areas, some patients cover their heads with clothes and other things in the evening and smoke them with fire. Some Uyghur people often use the food "Nang" or earth blocks, which are worshipped in places of worship and read spells in order to expel diseases. Some put Nang (The name originated from ancient Persian and has a history of over 2,000 years. it is the most favorite staple food for Uyghur people) on the top of their heads or in the four corners of the house. It can be seen that Shamanism has a deep influence on witch doctors. 

In the history of the ancient western regions, there was a situation in which Daoism replaced Shamanism and spread widely. However, the Shamanist witchcraft ceremony has never been excluded. In the medical history, Taoist wizards did not become the main wizards. According to Taoism, the world is full of struggles between light and darkness, good and evil, cleanliness and filth, and man is the goal of these two kinds of struggle. The upward sublimation of the world depends on the struggle between light and darkness, good over evil, and cleanliness over filth. Therefore, we should take a fighting attitude towards diseases. However, due to the influence of religion, the Taoist wizards still can't get rid of the medical practice dominated by warlocks. In the process of medical education, the sprout of medical system appeared. According to the regulations of the Taoist religion, a surgeon who has just heard of the world must have treated at least two non-believers before he can apply hand wood to the believers. If he has not operated on the non-believers and cured them, it cannot be said that he has excellent medical skills. In this case, it is a great sin to rush to heal the believers. Although this regulation is uncivilized, on the other hand, the internship system for doctors has been able to see a class. However, in the hands of religious wizards, it is difficult to ensure the cure rate of patients. This provision is actually self-deception. 

After the ancient western regions entered the slave society from the primitive society, special wizards appeared with the appearance. Although wizards also master some medical skills, due to the limitations of religion, they often lead the treatment to extreme Rui and endanger life. Therefore, since the emergence of religious medicine, the competition between traditional medicine and religious medicine has begun. According to an early document Lu Wen remnant unearthed in Tarim Basin, witches practiced medicine rampantly at that time. The local king ordered that witches be banned from practicing medicine. Witch doctors are banned as evil forces. In slave society, the development of medicine was bound by religious medicine and must compete with it [13].The competition between traditional medicine and religious medicine always goes hand in hand [14]. Because witch doctors cannot affect medicine, real doctors mainly rely on their own drugs, simple theory, treatment experience and treatment practice to diagnose and treat diseases and fight witch doctors.

The Formation of Early Medical Theory in the Western Regions the Emergence of "Four Elements" Theory

The theoretical basis of doctors practicing medicine in ancient western regions comes from the "four elements" theory under the influence of Oriental simple materialism. This theory was written into medical works by Hippocrates (460-377 BC), a famous ancient Greek doctor, and was translated into Arabic and introduced into the western regions. After continuous enrichment in medical practice, it has developed into the theory of "four substances" in today's Uighur medicine. 

The main argument of the four element theory is that fire, gas, water, scholars and the life, death, victory and decline of all things in the world are interdependent. Nature is composed of fire, gas, water and scholars, and human body is also composed of fire, gas, water and soil: human living conditions in nature, the origin of material life, the cause and recovery of diseases are all related to the mutual changes of fire, gas, water and soil in nature. Therefore, doctors in the ancient western regions regarded the process of treating patients as a process of maintaining the balance of four elements by material means. This simple materialist theory is opposite to the concept of ghosts and gods in religious medicine. Under the influence of this theory, ancient Western doctors constantly broke through the shackles of religious medicine and explored, created and accumulated many effective treatment methods. 

Around the 5th century BC, the western regions began to have more advanced medical activities. On the basis of primitive medical treatment, medical means such as massage, rubbing, pinching, roasting, soldering, bone setting, tooth extraction, corpse preservation and so on are relatively complete. According to the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates in his article on wind, water and place, the Cypriots who were nomadic in the north of Tianshan Mountain in those days and the salmaxians in today's SYR river often had burn marks on their shoulders, breasts, demons, waist and legs. This was a kind of cauterization therapy implemented at that time. Due to the influence of local climate and living conditions, their body is too wet. After cauterization treatment, the excess moisture in the body is reduced, the joints become more flexible, and the archery is more powerful. 

More than 400 BC, Hazibayi (about 450-30 BC) of Yuwen state (now Hotan, Xinjiang) in Lvzhou, Tarim River Basin in the western regions continuously collected and sorted out the pharmacological knowledge in the western regions. He has compiled a book of medicine-Medicine Books,it including 312 kinds of herbs, animal medicine and mineral properties, tastes, functions and indications, including Yinxiang, Tsuen cuisine, meat, wounded stone and salt. The book once attracted the visiting envoys of Hippocrates, an ancient Greek medical scientist. In order to get the book, the Greek king promised to build a palace for Yuwen people in Tarim, and married the princess to the son of Hazibayi who sent the book of medicine. Since then, in the broad western regions, the monographs of Hippocrates (460-377 BC) on drugs, such as Ketabuli Mu fezedati (single medicine book), and the monographs of kalinus (200-130 BC) on ketabuy Isteksati (plant, animal and mineral medicine book), have appeared. Another famous doctor in the ancient western regions was Rockman EKMI. It is said that he was familiar with the skills of various medicines and wrote a monograph on herbal medicine called makaratista del Bani aisayisi (on herbal medicine Chapter 6). 

With the development of commercial economy in the western regions, there were full-time “Pharmaceutical companies” and “Doctors” in the caravan and horse teams. They are skilled in fracture, reduction, trauma bandaging, incision and drainage pus, autopsy, surgical suture and other medical skills, and unique expertise. During the Western Han Dynasty, in 136 BC, Zhang Qian sent to the western regions and brought back many western regions medicinal materials, including walnuts, garlic, peas, pomegranates, safflower, grapes and so on. Shennong Materia Medica, the earliest monograph on pharmacology in the Central Plains, contains western medicinal materials such as grape, flax, sulfur, deer and sheep horn [15]. In today’s Wusun Tomb in Zhaosu area of Xinjiang, there are obvious bone-setting marks. It can be seen that the western region at that time, doctors mastered the skill of bone setting. The skeleton of a teenage girl was found in the remains from the alar Hussain cemetery in Ten-zan, with a sharp 0.5 cm drill hole at the top of her skull. It can be confirmed from the analysis of the trepanation method that the ancient Xiyu seedings had performed craniotomy [16].


Living in northwest China, mountainous areas and deserts, the ancient people of Xinjiang have realized that some plants can cure diseases, such as washing hot springs, wearing animal skins, applying milk juice, burying hot sand and bleeding, application of clay and garlic juice to the limbs can prevent pests as well as various medical treatments. At this time, people’s understanding of disease or from the simple historical materialism, there is a worship of nature, forming a superstition and the idea of ghosts and gods. This made the ancient western region medicine, on the one hand can not leave the material treatment. On the other hand also with the spiritual factor mysterious connection. The witch doctor also appeared as a mixture of witch and doctor. Shaman is the main representative of professional witchcraft. At this time also appeared the embryonic medical service system. Most importantly, it was under the influence of the ancient Greek physician’s Hippocrates that the “Four elements” theory developed into the “Four substances” theory of modern Uyghur Medicine [17].


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Citation: Li SW (2022) The Early Development of the Western Regions. J Altern Complement Integr Med 8: 260.

Copyright: © 2022  Shu Wen Li, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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