This chapter provides an introduction to the Asian medical system, which is intrinsically dynamic and continually evolving. Public interest in Asian medicine was stimulated in the early 1970s when the People's Republic of China promoted its integrated system of Chinese and Western medicine as an exemplar of Maoist enterprise. The medical systems of contemporary Asia—Ayurveda, Unani, and Chinese medicine—are intellectually coherent. Each system consists of beliefs and practices connected by an underlying logic, and each is underpinned by a coherent network of assumptions about pathophysiology, and therapeutics. While it is reasonable to discuss Asian medical systems in the same way that one reasons about humoral or allopathic systems, it is important to identify the cultural features that distinguish between the classic, literate medical system of a given Asian society and its local appearances. This chapter also provides an overview of the study, which discusses the ongoing evolution of Ayurveda as a professionalized system of knowledge in a modern state.
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