By: The People's Medical Publishing House
The Chinese Way to a Long and Healthy Life
Diet, Exercise, Massage
Compiled and Edited by the People’s Medical Publishing House
(Hippocrene Books, 1984, 304 pages)
Review by Christopher Dow
The full authorship of this book is: By Various Chinese Experts and the Staff of the People’s Medical Publishing House of Beijing, China. So, obviously, this is a communal effort whose true author is the Chinese Government. Considering the negativity with which the Chinese Communist regime treated the various kung fu and chi kung arts, at least in the past, this might make some suspect the book for one reason or another. But it came out during a time when the Chinese government was reconsidering the benefits of these arts—to the government, of course—and had begun promoting wu shu as an official state sport, so we might expect at least some validity in this book.
And that is the case. The expository material (background, philosophy, etc.) in this book is minimal, and the majority of the pages are chock full of exercises, from stretching and limbering to massage to chi kung. The book even includes instructions for a simplified Tai Chi form. Could you learn these exercises from this book. Sure, but it probably would take you a week of full-time effort to perform them all.
If you did, you’d be in really great condition, but most of us—in the West and most likely almost everywhere else in the world—don’t have the time or inclination to devote that much effort toward the purely physical. I’ve found that the Tai Chi and chi kung forms and a few ancillary exercises I do are about all I have the time and energy for these days, though I used to do more in my younger years. The average reader might pick a few of the exercises to help with specific issues they have and leave the rest alone. Or they might try all of them a bit at a time to get a sense of the range they provide.
The final chapter is “Thirty Recipes for Medical Treatment and Health Care.” The recipes range from juice and herbal drinks to soups to main courses. Some of them sound tasty—such as stewed chicken with maltose—while others are less so—bull’s genitals cooked with Chinese wolfberry or pig’s brain cooked with Chinese yam and Chinese wolfberry, for example. Okay, I admit I’m not an adventurous eater.
I also admit that I bought this book in 1982, looked through it once, then put it on the shelf, where it’s sat almost undisturbed since.