The Inheritance and Change with Last 60 Years for The Traditional Chinese Medicine Stores in Taiwan



With 20 centuries-old of history, traditional Chinese medicine has evolved with Chinese culture, tradition and society. Very conservative and traditional people run the traditional Chinese medicine stores in Taiwan. All stores are family business, teacher and pupil pass them on or father and son impart. The Chinese medicinal community with centuries old is a closed world and conservative circle. For this reason, they keep very well for their He Luo Chinese medicine culture, which is handled down generation by generation for two thousands years. The He Ro people (河洛人) is another name of Taiwanese, origin from He Ro area in ancient China, 1500-2000 ago. Their language and culture was classic China type, the Chinese medicine stores dealers in Taiwan have combined this ancient culture and their medicinal career to develop a special He Ro traditional Chinese medicine culture, the characteristics from our survey, they are honest, gentle, sincere, frank, stubborn, advocate tradition, conservative, faith, etc. Many Hang dynasty spelling are reflected in the Taiwanese names of herbal medicine, for example, the same word with different spelling, as tai3-hong5 (大黃), ng7-lian5(黃連), ng7-ki5(黃耆), chenn7-ki5(晉耆); kam7-cho2(甘草), ik8-boo1-chau2(益母草); jiok4-kui3(肉桂), iubb3-bah4(羊肉); hu3-cu2(附子), su1-kun7-cu2(使君子), ki7-cian7-ci2(車前子); hian7-som1 (玄參), etc. We discuss the detail for these characteristics of He Ro traditional Chinese medicine culture.


Because this is special traditional business, they are not college-educated pharmacists but do the medical work. In the passed 60 years, our government had spent a lots effort work to settle the license problem for this special business circle. Many policy and improved methods were tried, failed and changed. The business license fighting between government and traditional Chinese medicine stores were continued for more than 30 years. Many chairman, directors of health department involved this complex problems, but failed again and again. One of the main reasons were caused by neglect the special characteristics of the Ho Ro traditional Chinese medicinal culture.


Another very serious case was the rhinoceros horn and tiger bone problem in Taiwan in 1992-1994, all the media over the world reported this case. It was caused by the paper “the Horns of a Dilemma: The Market for Rhino Horn in Taiwan” was complied by a foreign conservationist and two domestic zoologist scholars. The traditional Chinese medicine store owners had sine become the target. Chinese medicine, long being regarded as a profession devoted to preserving human life, had turned out to be the center of criticism. Taiwan invoked the Pelly Amendment from the United States, and lost more than US$30,000,000 per year. The biased result of investigation report only caused by these 3 authors did not understand the special characteristics of the Ho Ro traditional Chinese medicinal culture. It hurt Taiwan government, people and the Chinese medicine so much. 


In order to cooperate the modern society, of course, they need keep on educating. We must know it is very difficult to conduct and investigation research among these closed group of people. The study methods or future developed direction of government should be arranged more detail and carefully as this work is very complex and hard.