The Brilliant Life and Enduring Influence of Sun Simiao: The King of Medicine


Sun Simiao, often hailed as the ‘King of Medicine,’ has left an unerasable mark on the realm of traditional Chinese medicine. His profound teachings, meticulous medical texts, and pervasive influence on healthcare still resonate across the world. This comprehensive article delves into his incredible life, expansive knowledge, and the connective threads that tie his work to contemporary medicine.

Early Life

Born in 581 A.D. Huayuan village in Shanxi Province, Sun Simiao exhibited an unusually sharp intellect and a voracious thirst for learning from a young age. Displaying transformative philosophical outlooks that would bend traditional thinking, he dedicated his life to the pursuits of Pharmacology, Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. His multifaceted learning played an integral role in shaping his expansive ideologies about health and medicine.

The ‘King of Medicine’

As one of history’s most influential medical practitioners, Sun Simiao’s contributions spanned many fields like alchemy, metaphysics and ethics. His pioneering ideas about medical ethics form the backbones of medical jurisprudence today. His assertion that medicine must promote the ‘benevolent mind, skillful technique and firm resolution’ in practitioners formed the heart of his medical ethos.

The Quintessential Medical Canon: ‘Qianjin Yao Fang’

Sun Simiao’s revolutionary work in pharmacology is best exemplified by his first and most famous medical book, ‘Qianjin Yao Fang’ (Prescriptions Worth A Thousand Gold) which defined the golden standard for medical textbooks of its time. This compilation of 5,300 prescription drugs broadened the band of pharmacology and elevated its status as an essential component of patient healthcare. With over 30 volumes and 1,124 disease categories, it showcased his deep understanding of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment methodologies.

Another Notable Work: ‘Qianjin Yifang’

Following the success of the Qianjin Yao Fang, Sun wrote another medical book, ‘Qianjin Yifang’ (Supplement to Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold). This invaluable extension further outlined his understanding of diseases, their causes, their symptoms, effective remedies, and emphasized the urgent need for patient-centric medical practice.

Placing Importance on Women’s Health

In an era when women’s health was often overlooked, Sun Simiao was one of the first practitioners to value it equally. His second book, ‘Nüke Yifang’ (Prescriptions for Women), highlighted the importance of nutrition, reproductive health, and childbirth procedures, proving his progressive approach to healthcare inclusive of all genders.

The Holistic Approach to Health

Sun Simiao propagated the idea that health was not merely the absence of disease but a harmonious balance between the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of existence. His teachings on mind-body wellness, psychological wellbeing, and importance of sleep were far ahead of his time and eerily similar to notions prevalent in today’s healthcare.

Lasting Influence on Global Healthcare

Sun Simiao’s work has traversed the expanse of time and space, influencing and inculcating better healthcare practices all over the globe. From the banners of medical ethics to the corridors of modern pharmacology and mindfulness-based therapies, the echo of his teachings is palpable even today. His foundational principles have strongly influenced Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Therapeutic Massage, and Herbal Medicine.

Sun Simiao Monuments and Memorials

In honor of his tremendous contributions, many monuments and memorials have been erected ever since, including his statue at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, encapsulating his vision and his extraordinary influence on healthcare.


Sun Simiao’s impact on traditional Chinese medicine is monumental, to say the least. His philosophy of treating the body as a whole and the importance he placed on disease prevention mirror the principles of modern medicine today. With his vast knowledge carefully documented in his two texts, he laid the cornerstone for future medical research and practices.

Even in the 21st century, his influence is profound; TCM practitioners worldwide look up to his innovative, holistic approach to healthcare. Albeit centuries old, the richness and relevance of Sun Simiao’s work are a window to advanced medical thinking and a gateway to healthful living.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment