葛洪 Ge Hong: The Ancestor of First Aid
葛洪 Ge Hong was a famous Daoist master, author, scholar, alchemist, and physician. Born in the Eastern Jin Period (317-420 AD), he is famously the first scholar to write about the practice of alchemy and is the father/ancestor of First Aid in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
葛洪 Ge Hong came from an aristocratic family in Jiangsu, and was the great grandson of the Three Kingdoms Period Daoist master 葛玄 Ge Xuan. As such he was commonly called Taiji Ge Xianweng, which translates as ‘Old Immortal Ge of the Utmost Extreme.’
As the youngest of three brothers, there was little chance for Ge to obtain official office. At thirteen years old his father died. This brought about great financial instability for his family. He began to sell firewood and work the fields to help support his family.
At the age of 16, 葛洪 Ge Hong began studying many of the Chinese Classics such as 孝經 XiaoJing and 詩經 ShiJing. His main interest was on how to obtain immortality through nourishing the body. He was commonly laughed at by friends and family for having such “outlandish” goals and dreams.
葛洪 Ge Hong became a student of Master 鄭隱 Zheng Yin, a master of alchemy for fifteen years. After a brief military appointment, he gave up worldly life to become a Daoist immortal in the South. He adhered to a strict diet and cultivated his character and tranquility under the tutelage of 鮑靚 Bao Jing.
葛洪 Ge Hong and Mt. Luofu
In 316 he moved back to the North and was recommended for several high offices, but ultimately refused to accept them. When 葛洪 Ge Hong heard about the cultivation of dansha 丹砂 (cinnabar) in Jiaozhi, now Northern Vietnam, he asked to be appointed to Magistrate of Guanxi, which he was ultimately given. He traveled to the South yet again and settled on top of 羅浮 Mt. Luofu where he studied herbs and alchemy.
Mount Luofu is considered to be the sacred treasure of Chinese medicinal herbs as it hosts some 3,000 varieties of plants.
After years of collecting and distinguishing herbs on the mountain, 葛洪 Ge Hong developed numerous herbal formulas and wrote them down in the Handbook of Prescriptions for Aid First. The pamphlet was so small that it could be carried in a sleeve of someone’s clothing. The work included symptoms and treatment protocols for more than seventy acute diseases.
In China there is a saying that references 葛洪 Ge Hong’s handbook:
The Handbook of Prescriptions for Aid First is considered the first clinical First Aid book in the history of Chinese Medicine. And as for 葛洪 Ge Hong himself, many call him the Ancestor of First Aid.
葛洪 Ge Hong's Contribution to Humanity
As an author, 葛洪 Ge Hong wrote about Daoist theories that reflected on unity and meditations as well as books on alchemy. He also brought many ancient herbal formulas forward and described precise methods for extracting herbs. His famous book 抱朴子 Baopuzi, includes information on both pharmacology and medicine.
Daoists during this period of time were philosophers, physicians, and herbalists. They healed the masses and gave of themselves to obtain true immortality. 葛洪 Ge Hong wrote more than 60 books, many of which have since been lost.
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