| 2020-02-25 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)
When used as a noun, this character usually refers to defense or a dam. When used as a verb, it means “to prevent” or “to alert.” 


fáng huàn yú wèi rán
Fang means “to prevent.” Huan refers to a disaster or adversity. Wei ran means “not happen or occur.” This term suggests working to stop something bad from happening, which is similar to the saying “prevention is better than the cure.”  
This saying originated from the I Ching—“The superior man considers possible troubles after the success and takes precautions” (trans. Fu Huisheng). As the saying goes, being well-prepared in case of anything unexpected, essentially planning for the future, has always been considered an integral part of what a junzi (man of virtue) should be like in traditional culture.
The same idea can be found in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), known as a medicine of prevention. It is said that the biggest difference between the Eastern and Western models of medicine is that in the West, people tend to wait until they are diagnosed with a disease before they seek out treatment, while people in the East try to take care of themselves on every level so as to stay healthy and prevent sickness. In other words, TCM gives prevention priority over treatment. TCM believes that before the occurrence of a disease or at the primary stage of a disease, it is important to take measures in advance to avoid suffering or aggravation, which is helpful for maintaining health. Treating the root problems instead of symptoms is based on the principle of preventing a disease from growing worse, because TCM believes that any illness that manifests is a symptom of a deeper problem. For example, it considers a headache as a symptom and focuses on determining the main cause. 
The principle of prevention can also be found in using food as medicine. In TCM, there is a large amount of information about foods, diets, what is harmful and what is beneficial. TCM sees foods as having a thermal nature or temperature (warming, cooling or neutral). It also believes that the human body can be hot, cold or neutral. TCM suggests adding or taking away foods to help keep the body balanced, which is crucial to holding off disease.
edited by REN GUANHONG