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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, AMERICAN HISTORY (oxfordre.com/americanhistory). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 April 2019

Summary and Keywords

Chinese were one of the few immigrant groups who brought with them a deep-rooted medical tradition. Chinese herbal doctors and stores came and appeared in California as soon as the Gold Rush began. Traditional Chinese medicine had a long history and was an important part of Chinese culture. Herbal medical knowledge and therapy was popular among Chinese immigrants. Chinese herbal doctors treated American patients as well. Established herbal doctors had more white patients than Chinese patients especially after Chinese population declined due to Chinese Exclusion laws. Chinese herbal medicine attracted American patients in the late 19th and early 20th century because Western medicine could not cure many diseases and symptoms during that period. Thriving Chinese herbal medical business made some doctors of Western medicine upset. California State Board of Medical Examiners did not allow Chinese herbal doctors to practice as medical doctors and had them arrested as practitioners without doctor license. Many of Chinese herbal doctors managed to operate their medical business as merchants selling herbs. Chinese herbal doctors often defended their career in court and newspaper articles. Their profession eventually discontinued when People’s Republic of China was established in 1949 and the United States passed the Trading with Enemy Economy Act in December 1950 that cut herbal medical imports from China.

Keywords: Chinese traditional medicine, herbal medicine, herbal doctors, Scholar doctors (Ru yi), hereditary doctors (Shi yi), popularity of medical knowledge in China, Chinese herbal medicine as a national field and a trans-local culture, “Tang” doctors, “Tang Fan” doctors, medical herbs as trans-Pacific trade, Li Po Tai, Chinese railroad laborers and herbalist Fong Dun Shung, Edward Jenner’ smallpox invention, white American patients, competition with doctors of Western medicine, the State Board of Medical Examiners, Trading with the Enemy Economy Act in 1950

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