Case Number 1

  • Asaf Goldschmidt
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 54)


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.


Other Sources:

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asaf Goldschmidt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of East Asian StudiesTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Visiting ProfessorRenmin University of ChinaBeijingChina

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