TCM was greatly harmed during the ten years of Cultural Revolution

2010-02-09

 The year of 1966 was a year with deep imprints in Chinese history…

 

Both TRT and Yue Songsheng failed to escape from this disaster. On August 20 1966, some young people rushed into TRT, claiming to destroy the Four Olds and saying TRT was the product of feudalism and capitalism. Without allowing any explanation, they took down the old board hung in the front hall of TRT pharmacy and threw it into the fire. This board, put up by Yue Xianyang in 1669, was innocently burnt to ash in a fire of ignorance and relentlessness.

 

The old board was smashed, and the name of TRT – a name used for nearly 300 years - was changed to Beijing TCM Store. TRT Pharmaceutical Plant and Refinery Plant were changed to Beijing TCM No.1 Plant and Beijing TCM No.6 Plant. The names of many traditional medicines were dubbed the meaning of feudalism, capitalism and revisionism and were forced to change. “immortal’s head” was changed to “withered radish”, “Buddha’s hand” was changed to “hand orange”. Some even insisted that the traditional thermal powder for rheumatism had the meaning of publicizing the Eighth Trigrams and had to be changed to “grit for dispelling coldness and relieving pains”. And some said that “angong” had the meaning of guarding the royal palace and “bezoar chest functioning pill” was changed to “bezoar pill for dispelling the heat”. During this ignorant act of destroying the Four Olds, “pellet of the Zhou to save lives” was changed to “Shiyi antidiarrheal pellet”. “Celestial Emperor powder to invigorate the heart” and “yixian pill” were changed to “pill to invigorate the heart” and “yikun pill”. Some changes were funny and annoying. For example, “pill to give a new life” was forcibly changed to “paralysis pill”. Some customers shook their head at this name, “Does it mean to cure paralysis or make people paralyzed. It’s hard to tell.”

 

Those who were affected by the ultra-left trend of thought regarded the traditional medical science of our motherland as wastes. They said: “It’s completely a waste to remove the skin of the almond and peach kernel, and using wheat bran to fry with the shenqu, trifoliate orange and bombyx batryticatus was a waste of food and should all be abolished.” They even said, “Isn’t cutting medicinal materials into decoction pieces intended for beauty? Who like to be beautiful? It’s the capitalist class! So decoction pieces only serve for capitalism.”

 

And they said, “It’s OK to just cut the medicinal materials into pieces. Why bother to make them into pill, powder and tablets? It’s indeed unnecessary!”

 

These ignorant words were not just a blasphemy to the medical science of our country, they also significantly affected the quality of the traditional Chinese medicine.

 

In the early phase of the development of TCM, our ancestors did directly use the medicinal materials. But later they found that the materials could have increased or reduced medicinal efficacy and different properties after prepared, thus working more effectively. And then after long-term practice, our ancestors realized that making the medicinal materials into pieces or pills, powder and tablets could make them more portable and easier to take and enhance its efficacy. But as a result of the ultra-left trend of thought, the customers were totally confused in front of these strange names of medicine; and the quality of TRT’s products could hardly be guaranteed and the reputation of the traditional medical sciences and people’s health were seriously affected.

 

Then a bigger loss came in the year 1968 when Yue Songsheng was labelled with “unlawful capitalist” and “member of Peng Zhen anti-Party group” and was treated unfairly.

 

As he was severely persecuted in spirit, on April 27 1968, Yue Songsheng passed away at the age of 60 - a way to show his dissatisfaction and fight against this calamity.

 

The death of Yue Songsheng was a real grief in the history of TRT and was also a great loss for China’s industry and commerce.

 

On the one hand, the Cultural Revolution caused great damage to the traditional Chinese medicine; on the other hand, during these ten years, the staff of TRT also made great efforts to protect, inherit and tap the precious heritage of the traditional medicine of the motherland and satisfy people’s needs in medical care. They tried their best to resist the disturbance and demolishment of the Cultural Revolution, which enabled the TCM of Beijing to continue its development in the demanding circumstances.

 

The Cultural Revolution had seriously affected the quality of traditional Chinese patent medicine. In 1973, with the instruction by Vice Premier Li Xiannian, an investigation jointly conducted by the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Fuel and Chemical Industry, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Trade showed that the quality of TCM must be stressed, the equipment and manufacturing technology of TCM was relatively backward and the weak foundation of the scientific research could not keep up with the development of the undertaking of people’s healthcare and meet the needs of export and assistance to foreign countries. Therefore, the State Council promulgated the No.121 document, pointing out new orientation of the technical reform of TCM factory. The document required that the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin should designate one factory respectively as the key target fore technical reform and by the year of 1975, all the production process should be mechanized…And the investment fund should be appropriated from the special fund reserve of the State. At that time, Beijing TCM Plant was designated as key technical reform enterprise. The State allocated ¥4,030,000 and built a new production building covering over 8,800 square meters. When the building was inaugurated in 1978, it laid a solid foundation for the production of the traditional Chinese patent medicine of Beijing.

 

In October 1976, the Gang of Four was toppled and the ten years’ chaos finally came to an end. People all over the country were filled with exultation. In 1980, the wrong done to Yue Songsheng was put right finally.