How did Asian medicine try to keep people healthy?

Learning resource

A Wellcome Library GCSE learning resource for Medicine Through Time

It is regrettable that the Medicine Through Time course does not pay much attention to medical traditions from outside western Europe. This section enables students to gain some insight into some of the great medical systems of Asia. This not only counters the Eurocentricity of the course, but also enables them to make comparisons of similarity and difference. In this section, examples are drawn from India, Nepal, China and Japan.

Each ancient medical system worked at two levels: it developed a theory of health and illness, in order to explain the mystery of disease, and it discovered a range of practical cures and medicines. The first task asks students to examine theories of illness from Nepal, Mughal India and China. The second covers some practical remedies from India and Japan.

This is one of several resources, prepared by the Wellcome Library, and designed to support teachers and learners preparing for the Schools History Project GCSE course 'Medicine Through Time: A Development Study'.

The resources are not a course in themselves, but focus on key concepts and understandings required by the course, supplementing more commonly used materials. The collection includes some topics central to the course, items that provide overviews and some topics that extend the normal range of coverage.

They can be used online or downloaded for whole classes, groups or individuals as part of a teaching scheme or for self-study. They are appropriate for candidates of any of the GCSE awarding bodies.


View more learning resources


Download Notes for teachers (51.35 KB) Download Tasks for students (445.91 KB)

Related content


Today's clinical trials evolved from trial-by-error studies of new treatments.


The boundaries between medicines and other products are becoming increasingly blurred.


Taxonomy provides a way of characterising living things and documenting family relationships.