Ancient China Lesson for Kids: Health & Medicine

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Do you know how old Chinese medicine is? In this lesson, find out how ancient China led the world in health and medicine thousands of years ago. Discover types of Traditional Chinese Medicine still used today!

Ancient Medicine

Nobody likes to be sick! In America, many children go to the doctor to get medicine when they have an infection. In ancient China, they also had doctors. But instead of treating a person after they were already sick, the Chinese believed that preventing an illness before it started was the key to one's health. In fact, many forms of medicine that originated from ancient China are still used today. Let's discover more about the types of medicine the Chinese used so long ago.


Can you believe ancient China was a leader in health and medicine over 2,000 years ago? During the Han Dynasty around 100 BC, China was known to have some of the best doctors in the world. And in the 600s AD, during the T'ang Dynasty, the Chinese had thousands of recipes for medicines. The Chinese also encouraged cleanliness. People were taught to boil water before they drank it, eat good foods, exercise and avoid stress.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is a system of healing. One important part of TCM is yin yang. The yin yang symbol represents balance. Hold your hand out with your palm up. This side of your hand is the yin side. The back of your hand is the yang (pronounced yong) side. They are opposites, but need each other to be complete. Yin is associated with night, while yang represents day. The symbol of yin yang shows how balance is important, in life and in the body. Ancient Chinese doctors believed that if the body was not balanced, a person would become sick.

Yin Yang Symbol
yin yang

Another important part of TCM is chi (pronounced chee), which is life force energy. In Karate Kid Part II, Mr. Han teaches how to use chi in Kung Fu. His student, Dre, compared chi to the force in Star Wars. In ancient Chinese medicine, it is believed that chi flows through the body. If chi is unbalanced or blocked, a person may become sick.

Types of TCM

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine Work? How is yin yang and chi balanced? One way is through acupuncture, which is a way to unblock chi with the use of thin needles. The needles are tapped into the skin along points on the body where chi is blocked. Sound scary? Most people find that it doesn't hurt, but instead tingles or itches. Acupuncture started during the Shang Dynasty 4,000 years ago, and is still used today!

Ancient Acupuncture Chart

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