Medicinal incense in ancient China

Medicinal incense in ancient China

Daniel Dob

For thousands of years, cultures from all around the world have been using incense for a wide variety of scopes, some of these including religious activities, relaxation, medicine, veneration and so much more.

 In China, it seems like Incense started to be used somewhere in the Han Dynasty, which would be situated between 206 BC – AD 220, which means that it can now be considered a tradition. In the past, China was really famous for its alternative medicine which in a way or another managed to cure hundreds of different diseases in an era where medicine was still at its very beginning. Creating incense for the purpose of it being used in medicine was a delicate process and it is believed that putting in certain ingredients has the possibility of granting incense medical properties. With this in mind, there were different types of incense created to treat issues such as eye diseases, stomach trouble and much more. A good example would be the ‘jiu’ incense, which was purchased by thousands and used by many doctors as an effort to cure cataract, but also a couple of different heart diseases.

By combining a smart use of incense together with a couple of different aromas, plants, drinks and rituals, China managed to transform its medicine into what it is today. While the traditional Chinese medicine may also work thanks to a couple of psychological effects, it is still believed that it is the only non-scientific type of medicine at the moment that is capable of getting results after striving to come up with a wide variety of techniques.

Incense was also combined with a couple of different religious rituals as an effort to grant the process a deeper psychological meaning and make sure that it has an effect on the placebo effect, which would in turn give patients somewhat of a different view on medicine and how it actually worked.

By keeping everything that has been outlined so far in mind, in ancient China, incense played an incredibly important role in getting traditional medicine to have the success that it is now famous for. After treating millions and curing diseases, Chinese medicine still remains hard to understand, but the truth is that we may be better off as a species if we don’t understand everything. 

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