Hua Tuo 华佗

Huo Tuo was well versed in various sutras and knowledge of keeping health. He decided to help the people out of diseases with his medical knowledge. Prime Minister of Chen Gui and Commander Huang Wan of Pei Kingdom recommended him to be government official, but he refused. Hua Tuo went to some places in today’s Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan to help people, winning their respect and applause. When Cao Cao, Prime Minister of the Han Dynasty, suffered from a headache and could not be recovered after long-time treatment. He turned to Hua Tuo for help. Hua Tuo acupunctured Cao Cao’s head and cured the disease. Cao Cao hope Hua Tuo could be his private doctor. But Hua Tuo did not want to serve only one people. He got an excuse and went home and refused to go back. Cao Cao was very angry and he killed Hua Tuo.

Hua Tuo not only was versed in acupuncture, but also made great achievements in areas such as gynaecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, diseases of internal medicines and verminosis. His greatest achievement was made in surgery. He invented Mafei San (Chinese ancient narcotic drug) and conducted an operation on the abdomen of a patient after being narcotized. According to history books, Hua Tuo could conduct operation of removing tumors and suturing stomach and intestines. For the diseases that were inside the body and could not be cured through acupuncture, Hua Tuo treated them with operation. He first asked the patient to drink Mafei San with liquor; when the patient lost the consciousness, he would cut open the abdomen. If he found tumors, he would remove them; if the diseases were in the stomach or intestines, he would cut them apart and remove the part with the disease. After washing the remaining parts, he would suture them. A kind of ointment was used on the wound. Four or five days later, the wound would, and the patient would be recovered in around a month’s time. Mafei San is a kind of traditional Chinese drug of general anesthesia. Hua Tuo invented the technology of general anesthesia in 2-3 Century, more than 1,600 years earlier than the ether and nitrous oxide used by western physicians for general anesthesia. Hua Tuo was the first people to use anesthesia for operation in the abdomen not only in China, but also in the world.

Hua Tuo attached great importance to physical exercises. He believed that appropriate exercises could improve digestion, help energy and blood circulation, prevent diseases and help prolong life. He invented Five-Animal Exercises according to the movement of tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird. His apprentice Wu Pu practiced the exercises and was still very healthy with good eyesight and hearing and strong teeth.

Hua Tuo wrote a lot of books on medicines in his life but none of them is available now. It is a great loss for Chinese medicines. The books available today such as Zhongzang Sutra and Secret Skills of Doctor Hua Tuo were actually written by someone else under the name of Hua Tuo.


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