Who Was He & Why Was He Important to Chinese Medicine?

Huang Di or the Yellow Emperor
Dates of reign: 2696–2598 BCE

Huang Di (黃帝) or the Yellow Emperor, is a legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero presented in Chinese mythology. He is said to be the ancestor of all Huaxia Chinese. According to many sources he was one of the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Tradition holds that he reigned from 2697–2597 BCE or 2696–2598 BCE. He is regarded as the founder of Chinese culture & civilization. His enlightenments include fundamental shifts in civilization: writing (on tortoise shells), politically formed government, the compass and silk woven clothes via the Empress, Lei Zhu (嫘祖).

In Chinese culture, the color yellow (Huang 黃) is symbolic for the Earth, the center (between north south east and west), and the qi that is derived from the elements after birth. Furthermore, the spleen and stomach, both responsible for nourishment in Traditional Chinese thought, are appropriately represented by the color yellow.

The Yellow Emperor was responsible for beginning the legacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine through the Huang Di Nei Jing, also known as The Inner Canon of Huangdi or Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon. This text is an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia and until today. It is comparable in importance to the Hippocratic Corpus in Greek medicine or the works of Galen in Islamic and medieval European medicine. The work is composed of two texts each of eighty-one chapters or treatises in a question-and-answer format between the mythical Huangdi and six of his equally legendary ministers.