Case Number 1
This first case history focuses on an issue that to the lay observer may seem unimportant, but that in reality represents one of the largest problems physicians had to cope in Xu’s time. The issue is whether to include Red or White Peony root in formulas in general, and in formulas designed to treat Cold Damage disorders in particular. This controversy arose after the government printed ancient medical canons, including the Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Disorders (Shanghan zabing lun 傷寒雜病論, in short the Treatise), whose contents did not align with advancing medical practice. The Treatise in many places mentions only Peony root. Over the centuries physicians had come to use two types of Peony, white and red. Xu uses the case to clear up this discrepancy by discussing the different effects of the two drugs. He summarizes the contemporary disagreement about which one is correct for this case. He claims that the Peony for the case at hand is the red one, and cites two additional canons to support his position. Altogether Xu refers to five different books in this record. Reading this case, we learn that at the time patients obtained the drugs they needed not only in the markets but at times from the private gardens of their physicians.
- Bensky, Dan, Steven Clavey, and Erich Stöger. 2004. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia medica. 3rd ed. Seattle: Eastland Press.Google Scholar
- Farquhar, Judith. 1994. Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounters of Chinese Medicine. Boulder, CO: Westview Press Inc.Google Scholar
- Hucker, Charles O. 1985. A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, Craig, Feng Ye, and Nigel Wiseman. 1999. Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage); Translation and Commentaries. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications.Google Scholar
- ———. 1987. Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China. Science, Medicine, & Technology in East Asia 2. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
- Yu, Bohai 于伯海, et. al. 1997. Shanghan jinkui wenbing mingzhu jicheng 伤寒金匮温病名著集成 [Collected Famous Works on Cold Damage, Golden Casket, and Febrile Disorders]. Beijing, Huaxia chubanshe.Google Scholar