Medici Cinesi Famosi

  Hua To

Hua To (Hua Tuo)

Hua Tuo, il medico cinese che costituì le basi del massaggio Tuina, fu il primo ad effettuare operazioni chirurgiche con l'anestesia fatta con un miscuglio di erbe


Hua To [Hua Tuo] fu il primo medico cinese famoso. Egli sviluppò l'uso dell'anestesia, favorì la limitata conoscenza cinese dell'anatomia. Sfortunatamente la tradizione dell'uso della chirurgia non fu portata avanti in seguito (finchè non fu reintrodotta dagli occidentali), non vi è una tradizione diretta degli insegnamenti di Hua Tuo sia come testi che come suoi discepoli diretti. Quando usava agopuntura ed erbe egli preferiva metodi semplici, usando il minor numero possibile di aghi e formule che comprendevano solo poche erbe. Egli praticò il Chi-kung [Qi Gong] ed insegnò "i movimenti dei 5 animali", che viene praticata ancora oggi.






Hua Tuo, Un Medico Miracoloso nella Cina Antica

Hua Tuo, also named Yuanhua, was from Pei Guo Jiao, today’s Haoxian, Anhui Province. He was such an outstanding medical doctor in ancient China that he was known as a “miraculous healer.”

Hua Tuo did not yearn for fame or money. Instead, he was completely devoted to studying medicine. He was highly accomplished in various fields of medicine, a fact which reflected the high level of medicine in the 2nd century of China. Hua Tuo appeared to be very smart from an early age. He lost his father at the age of seven. Because the family was living in poverty, his mother decided to send him to study medicine with Dr. Cai, a very close friend of Hua Tuo’s father. Hua Tuo went to town and met with Dr. Cai. After he expressed his wish to become a medical doctor, Dr. Cai thought to himself, “Hua Tuo’s father is my friend. If I don’t take him as my disciple, the town people would think of me as one of those people who, ‘cut off the relationship with his family after a friend passes away, and treat friends with no loyalty.’ I’d better take him as my disciple. However, I need to test the boy to determine if he is cut out for medicine.” At the moment, Dr. Cai noticed that several of his disciples were collecting mulberry leaves in the backyard, but had difficulty in reaching the leaves on the highest branch while climbing up the tree. He decided that this would be the first test for Hua Tuo. He asked Hua Tuo, “Can you think of a way to collect the leaves on the highest branch on the tree?” Hua Tuo said with confidence, “It’s a piece of cake.” Hua Tuo asked for a piece of rope, and tied a small rock at the end of the rope. He threw the rope over the highest branch and collected all the leaves on that branch which was now bent from the weight of the rock.

Next, Dr. Cai saw two goats fighting with their raging eyes turning red. No one could separate these two goats. He decided that this would be the second test for Hua Tuo. He said, “Hua Tuo, are you able to separate these two goats?” Hua Tuo answered right away, “Certainly.” He fetched two handfuls of grass and put them next to the goats on each side. The goats had been hungry from the fighting, so they dashed over to enjoy the pasture. The fight was stopped effortlessly. Much impressed with Hua Tuo’s intelligence, Dr. Cai joyfully took him as a disciple.

Hua Tuo studied diligently from the beginning. He valued actual clinical practice and eventually became a legendary doctor in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Even after he earned a hard-won a reputation as a medical doctor, Hua Tuo was never partial to any patient. He would provide his services wherever he went. He displayed a noble spirit by curing diseases and saving lives. He practiced medicine all his life. He developed innovative medical theories and excellent medical techniques in various medical fields, including external medicine, internal medicine, gynecology, acupuncture, parasitology, and physical therapy as medical treatment. He was an outstanding medical expert in ancient China. Hua Tuo was especially good at performing surgery. In fact, he was the first doctor who performed a colostomy in Chinese medical history. In order to reduce the pain of surgery for patients, he invented a drug, Ma Fei San, which was used to provide general anesthesia. It was not until 1,600 years later that Europeans began to use general anesthesia in surgery, at the beginning of the 19th century.

Hua Tuo once ran into a person pushing a cart on the street. The person had a brownish-yellow complexion. He was short of breath and looked very ill. Hua Tuo approached him to find out that he had colic in his stomach. Hua Tuo quickly diagnosed him with intestine carbuncle, or appendicitis, which required immediate surgery. The person drank Ma Fei San and was soon anesthetized. Hua Tuo cut the person’s abdomen open, removed the part of the infected intestine, cleansed his insides, sealed the wound with stitches, and finally applied ointment that would diminish inflammation and expedite the growth of tissues. The patient recovered in a few days and his surgical wound healed very quickly. The story proved the clinical effect of Ma Fu San, as well as his understanding of anatomy.

Hua Tuo also proved to be an excellent obstetrician. The Book of Late Han recorded a complex medical case that Hua Tuo treated successfully. General Li asked for Hua Tuo’s medical treatment for his wife. After examining her pulse, Hua Tuo declared the cause of the illness was that she had injured herself during pregnancy and failed to deliver the fetus as a result. General Li confirmed the pregnancy but informed Hua Tuo that his wife had already given birth to a stillborn baby. Hua Tuo replied, “Her pulse disagreed. It appears that she still has a fetus in her.” General Li hesitated to believe Hua Tuo’s diagnosis so Hua Tuo could not provide any treatment at the time. A hundred days later, the condition of Li’s wife turned worse. Hua Tuo was again invited over to provide treatment for her. Upon examining her pulse, Hua Tuo said, “Her pulse was same as my last visit. This is what I think happened. She carried a pair of twins in her. The first fetus was stillborn and caused excessive bleeding of the mother; therefore, the second fetus could not be born in labor. The fetus has died in her. It withered and became attached to a place near her spine.” In order to take out the fetus, Hua Tuo tried to induce the labor. First, he applied acupuncture on Li’s wife and prescribed herbal medicine. Before long, Li’s wife started the labor, but still couldn’t deliver the fetus. Hua Tuo explained that it was difficult to deliver a withered fetus in a natural labor. The fetus would have to be taken out by hand. He gave the instructions to a woman in General Li’s house, who indeed took out a withered fetus from General Li’s wife.

In addition, Hua Tuo made innovative discoveries in the field of acupuncture. Once a patient sought medical treatment from Hua Tuo because he had problems with his feet and couldn’t walk. After checking the pulse, Hua Tuo marked several acupuncture points on his back, and applied moxibustion seven times on each spot. The patient began to walk quickly after the treatment. Based on his own experience in acupuncture, Hua Tuo discovered the “Jia Ji Acupuncture Point”, an acupuncture point that nips the spine. Today the acupuncture point in this area is still referred as “Hua Tuo Point”.

Hua Tuo had also invented a set of exercise called “Exercises of the Five Animals”, which imitated the movements of five kinds of animals, including the tiger, the deer, the bear, the monkey and the birds. The exercise became very popular in his time. One of Hua Tuo’s students, Wupu, continued to practice the Exercises of the Five Animals on a regular basis. Even in his nineties, Wupu remained very strong and healthy with sharp ears, eyes and good teeth.

Hua Tuo remains as a important character in the Chinese medical history for his excellent medical techniques, as well as the spirit of saving and helping people.

Translated from:

Hua Tuo
Hua Tuo was the first of the "Daoist" physicians, reflecting both a high level of skill and the Daoist ideal of avoiding fame or fortune in favor of living in nature. He put forth the famous life cultivating statement, "Door hinges don't become worm infested, running water doesn't become fetid." At that time, door hinges were made of wood. He invented the health exercise system called "Five Animal Play", which mimics the movements and postures of five kinds of animals: tiger, deer, bear, ape, and bird.

The system became widely practiced and had a large impact on successive generations. Hua Tuo's belief was that motion is fundamentally important to health, and that by mimicking the movement's of different animals, all parts of the body were exercised and stretched, thereby activating the flow of fluid and energy in the body.

When treating illness, he would also utilize psychological methods. Legend has it that there was once a local governor who was ill and asked Hua Tuo to treat him. Hua Tuo felt that it would not be very easy to treat his illness using medicine alone, but that a single fit of rage would do it. Therefore, he intentionally set a high fee for his services, didn't give a prescription, and after a few days stole away, leaving behind a letter cursing the governor. The governor was furious and sent a group out to arrest Hua Tuo, planning to kill him. The governor's son, however, understood the circumstances and held up the men who were to seize Hua Tuo. While the governor was enraged, he vomited a clot of black blood and was cured.

A powerful warlord of that time, Cao Cao, had become a prime minister. He suffered from very severe headaches and asked Hua Tuo to treat him. Hua Tuo treated him with just one acupuncture needle and cured him. Cao Cao then forced Hua Tuo to remain and become his personal physician.

Hua Tuo was a learned man with profound understanding of the classics, didn't pursue position or money, and from an early age had no desire of being a government official. Due to his profound understanding of the science of life and his practical experience, he

had reached an age of nearly 100 and still had the appearance and vigor of someone in the prime of his life. He was unwilling to be Cao Cao's personal physician and fibbed, saying that his wife was ill and asked for a leave. Cao Cao sent someone to check and found out that Hua Tuo's wife wasn't ill. He was furious and had Hua Tuo put in jail, setting the punishment at death. Just before his death, Hua Tuo took out a three volume book he had written and gave it to the jail warden, saying "Using this medical text, you can treat illness and save people." The warden didn't dare take his book, and Hua Tuo had no choice but to burn the text in grief and anger. Much ingenious medical skill was thereby lost.


Throughout the ages, Chinese warlords often despised skilled professionals and continually regarded doctors as being part of "The hundred laborers". Their disregard for the talented and educated often had an adverse affect on development in China. Thus many great scientists and medical specialists who made great achievements chose to live in Daoist way of seclusion, not seeking power or money and dedicating their entire lives to seeking true knowledge. It has been said, "Within Chinese cultural skills, wherever science sprouts up, traces of Daoism can be found." This is because while Daoism researches the heavens, earth, and nature with profound philosophical thought, it also espouses the ideas of leading a secluded and quiet life, creating a tradition where one doesn't seek powerful positions and excesses. The relationship between Daoism and Chinese medicine is especially intimate.


Hua Tuo
2001-07-18 17:43:46
Clicks: 344

    Hua Tuo (?---208) Famous medical scientist at the end of the Han Dynasty. Born in Jiaojun of Pei Guo (today's Bozhou, Anhui). He had always been practicing medicine in the bordering area of today's Jiangsu, Anhui and Henan provinces. Historical sites such as Hua Tuo's Tomb and Hua Tuo's Temple can been found in today's Xuzhou City. Hua Tuo did much work in surgical first aid and epidemic prevention. He was expert at internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, gynecology, and acupuncture. He also made considerable contribution to anesthesiology. He was competent at surgical operations, and is known as the father of surgery. In fact, he was the first man known to have done surgical operations with the help of anesthesia, and this happened 1600 years before it did in Europe. The Wuqin Exercises, which is a session of physical exercises that he developed, can help people to strengthen their health and prolong their lives. He later cured Cao Cao's headache, but refused to remain and serve Cao Cao only, and was therefore killed by the latter.


Hua Tuo also named Yuan Hua of Hao county in Anwei province. was the first famous Chinese surgeon. He is the first in the world to developed the use of anesthesia, and furthered the limited Chinese knowledge of anatomy.  When using acupuncture and herbs, he preferred simple methods, using a small number of acupuncture points and formulas comprised of only a few herbs. He practiced Chi-kung [Qi Gong] and taught the "frolics of the five animals," a practice still used today. The five animals are Tiger, Deer, Bear, Ape and Crane.

One day a patient came to see Hua Tuo. Hua Tuo diagnosed the patient with Ulcerative Colitis (bleeding ulcer in the large intestine). He thus decided that surgery was needed. He gave the patient "Anesthetic powder", as the patient lost feeling he performed the operation. He cut the abdomen open and located the ulcer in the intestines. Clearing the infected area he sawed it back and applied "Spirits Lotion". In one month the patient recovered completely. Later on a famous general named Zao Cao contracted illness called "Tou Feng". The general came to see Hua Tuo and was advised to have an operation. The general suspected Hua Tuo wanted to harm him and thus ordered the death of Hua Tuo. A very loved and revered physician was lost to the world.