黃山杏林中醫院歡迎您!

Welcome!

DongFengStatue

Dong Feng (董奉), the original “Man of the Apricot Forest” (杏林中人)

Apricot Forest Chinese Medicine Hospital is a private hospital devoted solely to classical Chinese medicine, founded by Dr. Jiang Feng in the Yellow Mountain district of Anhui Province, China in the spring of 2013.

The Yellow Mountain is named after the legendary Yellow Emperor, semi-mythical founder of Chinese civilization, who was said to have cultivated immortality secluded by the clouds amongst its steep granite peaks and rugged pines.  This is the same Yellow Emperor who gave his name to the “Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic”, the foundation document of classical Chinese medicine.  In an ancient country full of sacred mountains the Yellow Mountain may be the most famous of all, as evidenced by the Chinese expression which roughly translates as “upon return from Yellow Mountain no one goes to see other famous peaks” (黃山歸來不看岳).

Nestled in the foothills of this famous mountain range (whose unique landscape inspired the floating “Hallelujah Mountains” of James Cameron’s “Avatar” in 2009 and served as a the primary filming location for Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” in 2000) with its profound “feng shui” (風水) is where Dr. Jiang decided to build his hospital.  With over a hundred beds and more than a dozen clinicians, to our knowledge Apricot Forest Chinese Medicine Hospital (黃山杏林中醫院) is the only clinical institution of this size devoted solely to the practice of pre-Cultural Revolution classical Chinese medicine currently operating in all of mainland China.

The name chosen for the hospital, “Apricot Forest” (杏林), resonates with deep meaning to any native speaker of Chinese.  Some 1800 years ago during an age known as the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China there was a doctor by the name of Dong Feng (董奉) who instead of accepting payment from his patients simply asked that they plant apricot trees in his orchard in thanks.  Not only was this method of compensation emblematic of the doctor’s charity but also his thrift, as apricot kernels are an essential ingredient in several classical Chinese herbal formulae.   A grove of apricot trees still stands near where this doctor once practiced his art almost two millenia ago, and the term “apricot forest” in modern Chinese language is now a poetic way to refer both to the practice of Chinese medicine and to the compassion shown by those who devote themselves to easing the suffering of others.

The hospital itself represents the fruition of several decades of labor on the part of its founder, Dr. Jiang Feng.  To say that the political situation in China regarding the practice of classical Chinese medicine as opposed to the so-called “traditional Chinese medicine” (TCM) system supported by the government is a delicate one would be an understatement, and as such for decades since the Cultural Revolution the creation of such an institution was simply not possible.  (For more on the distinction between “classical” and “traditional” Chinese medicine, see here.)

oc5

The entrance to Apricot Forest Hospital’s outpatient clinic.

The difficulties seemed so insurmountable that after many years spent traveling abroad to practice medicine in over 100 different foreign countries in 2009 Dr. Jiang took several steps towards founding the hospital in Malaysia, where there exists a large traditionally minded ethnic Chinese population and where the national government fully supported the endeavor.  However shortly thereafter fate finally began to smile on the project and with the support of the local authorities in the Yellow Mountain district near Dr. Jiang’s hometown in Anhui Province a number of important government approvals were finally granted which permitted the acquisition of a suitable property within mainland China itself.

The decision to locate the hospital in Anhui Province was beneficial for a number of reasons.  In addition to the enviable feng shui of the location, since antiquity Anhui has been the source of many of the things that traditionally make China “Chinese”.  By way of example the “4 treasures of the study” (文房四寶) are the four implements which a traditional Confucian scholar was obliged to have in his study for use in writing, and the source for the finest of these tools since ancient times has been Anhui:  paper & hair brushes from Xuancheng (宣城), and inksticks & stone inkwells from Shexian (歙縣).  But even more relevant than these cultural treasures is the fact that many of the finest and rarest herbal medicines grow either wild or carefully crafted amongst the mountains and valleys of Anhui, to the extent that the largest classical Chinese herbal market of any kind is located in Anhui in a city called BoZhou (亳州) just a few hours drive north of the hospital.

Then again to hear Dr. Jiang tell the story, the founding of the hospital in the shadow of the Yellow Mountain was fated from the beginning.  After all it was at a hotel located on the mountaintop, at the time the finest in Yellow Mountain and one of the first places in Anhui Province to become accessible to foreign visitors following Deng Xiaoping’s opening of China to the outside world, where Dr. Jiang was invited in the 1980’s to practice his medicine for visiting dignitaries and where he treated Western patients for the first time.  So in many ways the return to Yellow Mountain is a kind of homecoming some thirty years in the making.

The stated purpose of the hospital has always been threefold:  (1) to preserve and promote the practice of classical Chinese medicine as it existed in mainland China prior the Cultural Revolution, (2) to provide mainland Chinese people with access to the sort of high-level classical medicine that originated in their own country but heretofore was only available either to the wealthiest & most privileged class or to foreigners, and (3) to provide a stable destination for the many foreign patients who until now have been obliged to wait for Dr. Jiang to visit their country in person in order to receive these treatments.

At the hospital Dr. Jiang and the apprentice doctors who work under him continue to provide the whole range of classical Chinese medical treatments that he has practiced for nearly 30 years, from the more commonly known herbal decoctions, acupuncture/moxibustion & dietary therapies, to the less common medical qigong diagnostics & therapies, “wet cupping” (刺血拔罐), blood diagnostics (血液辯證), and many others.