Chinese Medical Chinese Online





Learn to Read Medical Chinese

with Nicolaas Herman Oving

An online course to guide you in the study of medical Chinese.


Chinese medical concepts in context

Philosophical and etymological background of Chinese medical characters, and how they function in classical texts as applied in the clinical context.


Course objective and description

The course will help you to develop a deeper understanding of concepts in Chinese Medicine through the study of characters and their use in classical texts. It guides you in your studies of the basic vocabulary of Chinese Medicine. The characters are traced to their origins, and placed in the context of the medical classics. You will get access to the original descriptions of the concepts in medical classics like the Neijing and Nanjing by close reading of citations from those texts. Through increasing understanding of Chinese medical concepts, the practitioner leaves with a far greater depth of understanding of the medicine as it applies to self-taught knowledge, peer to peer exchanges, approaches to continuing education, and thus day-to-day practice, diagnosis, treatment and overall patient care. The components of this “hands-on” workshop include:

Practical benefits to the practitioner: relationship to scope of practice and continuing education (demonstrated through examples). This is the equivalent of an intensive (mini) master’s level course in CM concepts and principles. Again, as stated above, best CM Medical Practices are achieved, in part, through competency in the language. This allows for more finely nuanced herbal prescribing and acupuncture interventions. This important course has a direct impact on clinical practice, patient care and systems based care, and gives access to the vast clinical resources available only in Chinese.


Learning methodology

Study assignments are sent by email. Group discussion is encouraged. Self-study is crucial, but Nicolaas will always give feedback to individual questions and he will help you to evaluate progress regularly.

New for 2024 is that you can meet your teacher online if you wish (individually or in a class setting). 


Participation requirements

Some basic knowledge of Chinese Medicine is helpful but the course is open for beginning as well as advanced students and practitioners of Chinese Medicine. The contents of the course can be adjusted according to the needs and wishes of the students.


Course leader

Nicolaas Herman Oving is a sinologist and practitioner of Chinese Medicine. He has taught Chinese medical language to students and practitioners for over two decades and works as a translator of Chinese medical texts.  (For more about Nicolaas, see


Contents of Block A: Basic Concepts

You will study characters from Chinese Medical Chinese (see below).  Nicolaas gives individual guidance to help you improve your hand-written characters.  He has developed additional material exploring the historical and philosophical roots of concepts using quotes from the classical literature.

Part 1 Introduction to Chinese Medical Chinese. How to study Chinese.
Part 2 * Brief introduction to ancient Chinese thought.  Qì in early medical literature: physiology, pathology, macrobiotic hygiene, and magico-religious practices.
Part 3 * Quotes from philosophical and medical classics about qì.
Part 4 * Qì: Transmission and translation. Translations, definitions, and comments from various authors & translators.
Part 5 and Part 6 * Different kinds of qì:  Scanning the medical classics and discussing the quotes in which qì appears.
Part 7 * Qì in acupoint names. Qì in common language.
Part 8 Shén: discussion of the concept, and its use in medical literature.
Part 9 Five phase theory in Chinese.
Part 10 What is terminology? (readings).
  Final evaluation: EXAM
* Note: In the material about (part 2 – part 7) several other important concepts are discussed as well.

At the end of each Part there is a quiz and a test.  














Nicolaas will send you ten assignment files and additional documents to read and/or study.  In each assignment you will learn to read and write a group of characters from the textbook Chinese Medical Characters (plus some extra characters).  Nicolaas will show you how to use the internet to learn how to pronounce them.

Each assignment is concluded with a quiz and a test.  Quizzes are not graded, tests are. 

The quizzes, tests, and final exam are designed to check your knowledge of the characters studied and the exam includes a short essay. Writing the quizzes and tests and passing the exam is a prerequisite for continuing to Block B and C.


Studyload and Credits

To get the maximum out of this course, you will need to study an hour a day. The course (Block A) qualifies for 100 NCCAOM PDA Points (but: see update below) and has been approved by the California Acupuncture Board as well.  The hundred points are divided over ten certificates each worth ten points.  You have to write all the quizzes, pass all the tests and the final exam to earn those credits.  Grading is based on 1. participation 2. test average and 3. final exam.  75% is the minimum requirement.  The duration of the course (Block A) is five-six months.


Accreditation update:

Due to the rising costs for accreditation with the NCCAOM and the California board, we have discontinued to re-apply annually.  Please accept our apologies.  If you need accreditation units for this course, please contact us.  We are open to find a solution but will have to ask for an extra fee. 


Course materials

You are required to study Chinese Medical Characters, Volume One: Basic Vocabulary (Paradigm Publications, 2003). You can begin to study Chinese Medical Chinese, Grammar and Vocabulary (Paradigm Publications, 2002; we will use that book in Block B). Nicolaas will provide extra study materials in the form of pdf documents and study assignments per email.  A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine is strongly recommended.



2024: A new Block A session will start early 2024; a specific date will be set when class registrations are complete.



Block A: $ 875 US dollars; paid with course registration.  Blocks B & C: together $ 1,750 US dollars.  Your fee is refundable only if the class is canceled. Payment in installments is an option.  The entire course, Blocks A, B and C can be purchased for $ 2,500 if paid at the start of Block A.

Please note that we can be flexible with payments.  Also, if you are unable to enroll due to financial distress, don’t hesitate to ask us for a discount.



Contact Nicolaas Herman Oving ( to enroll and/or for further information.





Contents of Blocks B and C: Continuing Study

You will increase your speed of learning of Chinese medical characters, continue to deepen your understanding by studying quotes from the medical classics, and begin to study grammar.  In Block B you will study the basics of classical Chinese grammar, and in Block C you will read and translate excerpts from classical medical literature.  Subjects include: organ theory, channel theory and pulse qualities.  We will also discuss more single characters, such as those appearing in acupoint names and a series of characters used in terms for therapeutic principles.  Names of medicinals and formulas will be discussed as well.



A new Block B & C session is scheduled to start in early 2024, but you can also study at your own pace and then start any time.  To enter Block B and C, you need to pass the exam of the previous block (Block A).

The final examination of Blocks B and C will test your proficiency at translating a simple text.

If you already have basic knowledge of Chinese, you can opt for the Fast Track Block A option to enter Blocks B & C without doing Block A in a regular class.  For that option see Fast Track Block A .


Literature for Block B

Chinese Medical Chinese, Grammar and Vocabulary (Paradigm Publications, 2002)

Chinese Medical Characters, Volume II: Acupoint Vocabulary (Paradigm Publications, 2005)

Chinese Medical Characters, Volume III: Materia Medica (Paradigm Publications, 2006)

Additional material will be provided by the teacher.

Literature for Block C will be announced during Block B.


After finishing all three blocks of this course, there is the possibility of continuous advanced study on an individual basis or in a group.  Please ask Nicolaas via email about the possibilities.