The miraculous doctor Hua Tuo did not exist in history. Were all his deeds made up by later generations?

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Portrait of Hua Tuo (source: data map)

This article is extracted from the Beijing Youth Daily on October 17, 2011 by Zhu Hui. The original title is Hua Tuo, the “virtual human”

There has always been a controversy about Hua Tuo, a miracle doctor. Is there Hua Tuo? Is Hua Tuo Chinese, Indian or Persian?

In fact, it is not difficult to sort out a clue about this kind of debate. Most Chinese immortals have had mortal identities, such as Zhong Kui, Zhang Guolao, LV Dongbin… The “flesh” of immortals who once existed in a certain Dynasty is actually just a carrier. Few descendants study the “flesh” and most of them will only burn incense and kowtow to them who become immortals. Similarly, Hua Tuo, a miracle doctor, has become a God in the field of traditional Chinese medicine, and the “body” Hua Tuo, who once existed in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, is no longer important.

In history, there was a man named Hua Tuo. According to the current administrative division, he was from Qiaocheng District, Bozhou City, Anhui Province. It is said that the Hua family was originally a well-known local family. By the time Hua Tuo was born, his family had already fallen into the middle of the world. However, it can still be seen that he was a learned family. Otherwise, his name would be so strange. “Tuo”, a word that many people did not know, meant “load”, indicating that his father expected him to take on important responsibilities when he grew up.

Ancient Chinese literati were very active, which enabled us to see more written materials than other ancient civilizations. However, the literati often helped by crossing the border to the fields of history and medicine at will. The excessive hype about Hua Tuo turned him into a suspect. The biography of Hua Tuo in the book of the later Han Dynasty describes that Hua Tuo was “a hundred years old and still had a strong face. People thought he was an immortal at that time”. There are also some historical records that Hua Tuo still maintained his appearance of 60 years old until he was 150 or 60 years old. These magical words obviously implicated the authenticity of other records about Hua Tuo.

In addition to his long life span, Hua Tuo’s superb surgery is also questionable. According to the existing common sense, it is unimaginable to perform visceral surgery in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, and it is impossible to perform craniotomy with a sharp axe. In ancient times, there was no way to test blood type, nor could blood transfusion. How to supplement the blood loss of patients during surgery? The success rate of craniotomy with an axe, regardless of how to master the strength, is definitely zero without oxygen inhalation equipment and cardiac pacing equipment.

“Believe it or not, I believe it!” Many Chinese doctors believed in Hua Tuo’s miraculous surgery. Their guess is that Hua Tuo once mastered peerless medical skills by self-study, and his surgical skills may have reached a super modern level across versions. He can use oral Mabei powder for general anesthesia before operation, acupuncture to stop bleeding, and some magical herbal medicine to diminish inflammation and prevent infection after operation… As for why the level of traditional Chinese medicine surgery has fallen back after Hua Tuo, it is because before he died, Hua Tuo passed the Qing Bao Jing, a collection of the essence of his life’s medical skills, to the prison guards, and the loser dared not accept it. Therefore, Hua Tuo burned the Qing Bao Jing, and traditional Chinese medicine has fallen back.

Hua Tuo didn’t have a master, and he was completely self-taught. So why didn’t there be a Hua Tuo like expert in traditional Chinese medicine surgery for more than a thousand years? In this regard, some traditional Chinese medicine explanations are now bound by feudal ethics. It is not filial piety to open the intestines and break the belly under the influence of “the body and skin are not damaged by the parents”. However, if Hua Tuo had not performed many human autopsies, how could he have mastered the complex structure of the human body and brain? In the feudal era, how did he get so many remains for dissection? Did the local government not intervene? Is there no pressure from public opinion?

Hua tuoyi

???????????? ?????????

???????????? ?????????

Portrait of Hua Tuo

There has always been a controversy about Hua Tuo, a miracle doctor. Is there Hua Tuo? Is Hua Tuo Chinese, Indian or Persian?

In fact, it is not difficult to sort out a clue about this kind of debate. Most Chinese immortals have had mortal identities, such as Zhong Kui, Zhang Guolao, LV Dongbin… The “flesh” of immortals who once existed in a certain Dynasty is actually just a carrier. Few descendants study the “flesh” and most of them will only burn incense and kowtow to them who become immortals. Similarly, Hua Tuo, a miracle doctor, has become a God in the field of traditional Chinese medicine, and the “body” Hua Tuo, who once existed in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, is no longer important.

In history, there was a man named Hua Tuo. According to the current administrative division, he was from Qiaocheng District, Bozhou City, Anhui Province. It is said that the Hua family was originally a well-known local family. By the time Hua Tuo was born, his family had already fallen into the middle of the world. However, it can still be seen that he was a learned family. Otherwise, his name would be so strange. “Tuo”, a word that many people did not know, meant “load”, indicating that his father expected him to take on important responsibilities when he grew up.

Ancient Chinese literati were very active, which enabled us to see more written materials than other ancient civilizations. However, the literati often helped by crossing the border to the fields of history and medicine at will. The excessive hype about Hua Tuo turned him into a suspect. The biography of Hua Tuo in the book of the later Han Dynasty describes that Hua Tuo was “a hundred years old and still had a strong face. People thought he was an immortal at that time”. There are also some historical records that Hua Tuo still maintained his appearance of 60 years old until he was 150 or 60 years old. These magical words obviously implicated the authenticity of other records about Hua Tuo.

In addition to his long life span, Hua Tuo’s superb surgery is also questionable. According to the existing common sense, it is unimaginable to perform visceral surgery in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, and it is impossible to perform craniotomy with a sharp axe. In ancient times, there was no way to test blood type, nor could blood transfusion. How to supplement the blood loss of patients during surgery? The success rate of craniotomy with an axe, regardless of how to master the strength, is definitely zero without oxygen inhalation equipment and cardiac pacing equipment.

“Believe it or not, I believe it!” Many Chinese doctors believed in Hua Tuo’s miraculous surgery. Their guess is that Hua Tuo once mastered peerless medical skills by self-study, and his surgical skills may have reached a super modern level across versions. He can use oral Mabei powder for general anesthesia before operation, acupuncture to stop bleeding, and some magical herbal medicine to diminish inflammation and prevent infection after operation… As for why the level of traditional Chinese medicine surgery has fallen back after Hua Tuo, it is because before he died, Hua Tuo passed the Qing Bao Jing, a collection of the essence of his life’s medical skills, to the prison guards, and the loser dared not accept it. Therefore, Hua Tuo burned the Qing Bao Jing, and traditional Chinese medicine has fallen back.

Hua Tuo didn’t have a master, and he was completely self-taught. So why didn’t there be a Hua Tuo like expert in traditional Chinese medicine surgery for more than a thousand years? In this regard, some traditional Chinese medicine explanations are now bound by feudal ethics. It is not filial piety to open the intestines and break the belly under the influence of “the body and skin are not damaged by the parents”. However, if Hua Tuo had not performed many human autopsies, how could he have mastered the complex structure of the human body and brain? In the feudal era, how did he get so many remains for dissection? Did the local government not intervene? Is there no pressure from public opinion?

The exaggerations of Hua Tuo’s medical skills have been doubted by many non TCM practitioners for thousands of years. Mr. chenyinque once pointed out that Hua Tuo’s deeds actually came from the story of the Indian miracle doctor Qi Yu. In connection with Hua Tuo’s contemporaries, “Cao Chong called the elephant” also came from Indian Buddhist legends. Chen Yinque’s statement has a certain possibility.

Anything touched with “God” must be more literary than authentic. There may indeed have been a famous doctor named Hua Tuo in history. Later, some people praised him as a miracle doctor and continued to add fuel and vinegar. As a result, he became more and more like a non-human. Over time, it made people doubt whether Hua Tuo was a virtual human.

For thousands of years, the exaggeration of traditional Chinese medicine has been doubted by many non TCM practitioners. Mr. chenyinque once pointed out that Hua Tuo’s deeds actually came from the story of the Indian miracle doctor Qi Yu. In connection with Hua Tuo’s contemporaries, “Cao Chong called the elephant” also came from Indian Buddhist legends. Chen Yinque’s statement has a certain possibility.

Anything touched with “God” must be more literary than authentic. There may indeed have been a famous doctor named Hua Tuo in history. Later, some people praised him as a miracle doctor and continued to add fuel and vinegar. As a result, he became more and more like a non-human. Over time, it made people doubt whether Hua Tuo was a virtual human.

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