|Painting of Bao Gu: "Healing Legacy" by Caroline Young|
Traditionally, Chinese alchemy focused on the purification of the spirit and body through Qigong (a form of exercise and meditation) and the consumption of different “alchemical medicines” (or elixirs) as needed. For instance, Ge Hong would have believed that by refining bases into gold, an elixir ingested of “fake” gold would give longevity if not immortality. Because of alchemy’s grand experimentation in transforming various elements into medicines, alchemy is considered the forerunner of chemistry and pharmacology.
Bao Gu inherited this interesting world of Chinese medicine from her new husband who in addition to being an alchemist was busy recording his knowledge of alchemy in various works. His knowledge and use of moxatherapy (a type of acupuncture) was also recorded. Moxatherapy had been used successfully to treat “acute diseases and patterns,” such as “sudden death, sudden turmoil (cholera) and vomit-dysentery.” Lady Bao, as she was then called, became a skilled moxatherapist. She has the honor today of being the first recorded female moxatherapist in Chinese history.
Lady Bao traveled extensively with her husband, practicing medicine and alchemy in the Luofu Mountain region. She soon gained the title of “Immortal Lady Bao” when the locals started experiencing miraculous cures. She was not only an expert in acupuncture but also known for her treatment of tumors and warts. She treated diseases in Guangzhou, Nanhai, Huiyang, Boluo, etc., and often spent time locating and gathering herbs for her treatments.
After she died the locals built a temple at the base of Yuexiu Mountain out of love and in commemoration of her medical contributions.
Xiaorong Chang, Hong Jing, Yi Shouxiang, Illustrated Chinese Moxibustion Techniques and Methods, 2012. Publisher, Singing Dragon, p. 18.