Here are some resources for getting started in the study of Chinese medical history. This page will be updated on a periodic basis, so feel free to suggest any additions via email or Facebook. The date above reflects the last time this page was modified.

Introductions to the field

Hinrichs, TJ, and Linda L. Barnes. Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History. Belknap Press, 2013.

Lo, V. and M. Stanley-Baker. 2011, ‘Chinese Medicine’, in M. Jackson (ed.) Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine, Oxford: Oxford University Press,

Lo, Vivienne. “But is it [History Of] Medicine? Twenty Years in the History of the Healing Arts of China.” Social History of Medicine 22, no. 2 (2009): 283-303.

Lee, Jender. “The Past as a Foreign Country: Recent Research on Chinese Medical History in Taiwan.” Gujin Lunheng 古今論衡 11 (2004): 37–58.

Hinrichs, T.J. “New Geographies of Chinese Medicine.” Osiris 13, (1998): 287-325.


To the best of my knowledge, the best dictionaries are these:

  1. 中醫大詞典, the standard general dictionary for the history of Chinese medicine
  2. 中藥大詞典, specifically on medicinal plants and pharmacology
  3. Dictionnaire Ricci des plantes de Chine, excellent Chinese-French dictionary
  4. Paul Unschuld’s dictionary for the Huangdi Neijing
  5. Paul Unschuld’s multivolume dictionary for the Bencao Gangmu

But, you may also want to consult the following tools (in no particular order):

  1., Nigel Wiseman’s dictionary is the standard among Western practitioners of TCM

Overall, the problem with most of these dictionaries is that they can be biased toward present understandings of Chinese medicine, and therefore not always reliable for historical texts. They should be used with caution.


History of East Asian Medicine Collaborative Bibliography on Zotero:

Nathan Sivin’s bibliography: (now part of the Zotero project above)

Useful websites

Standard online versions of Chinese medical texts are included as part of Academia Sinica’s Scripta Sinicacollection:

These online versions are useful for quick lookups and cross-references, but always check against standard editions:, (The latter includes some journal runs as well.)

Guides to research by Nathan Sivin:

I have founded a Facebook group exclusively for scholarly exchange about Asian medicine: Scholars of Asian Medicine.

[Cover photo by Pierce Salguero]

A Beginner’s Guide to the Academic Study of History of Chinese Medicine