In

Original Case by: Ye Tian-Shi(叶天士)

The patient had anger with Liver constraint. [In addition,] thought and preoccupation had damaged the Spleen. There was a yellow complexion, choppy pulse, and (s)he was [often] awake with an inability to go to sleep. Ancestor Xue’s method of treatment was used.

rén shēn (Ginseng Radix)
huáng qí­ (Astragali Radix),
shú bái zhú (steamed?? Atractylodis macrocephalae Rhizoma)
fú shén (Poriae Sclerotium pararadicis)
dà zǎo (Jujubae Fructus)
lóng yǎn ròu (Longan Arillus)
dāng guī (Angelicae sinensis Radix)
zhì gān cǎo (prepared licorice root)
hēi shān zhī zǐ (black gardenia)
mǔ dān pí (Moutan Cortex)
yuǎn zhì (Polygalae Radix)

Translated by: Jason Blalack

Original Chinese: 某 恼怒肝郁。思虑脾伤。面黄脉涩。寤不成寐。宗薛氏法治之。人参 黄 熟于术 茯神 枣仁 桂圆肉 当归 炙草 黑山栀 丹皮 远志

Source: From the Constraint Chapter of Case Records as a Guide to Clinical Practice (Lín zhèng zhî nán yï àn) 《临证指南医案》.

Commentary: Ancestor Xue refers to Xue Ji (薛己) and this formula is based on gui pi tang (Restore the Spleen Decoction) from Categorized Essentials for Normalizing the Structure (Zhèng tǐ lèi yào). This case is interesting because this is a tonifying and fairly cloying formula with very little moving medicinals that treats a pattern that started with Liver constraint. Ye decides to treat the result of the constraint (damage to the Spleen) first and foremost. I think this demonstrates Ye’s desire for getting the patient to sleep and treating the key mechanism causing the insomnia, the Spleen. Although Ye is known for focusing in on the underlying mechanism, even at times completely ignoring branch herbs in favor of addressing the core pattern, this shows that he is flexible, not always treating the initial “cause”. Comments?

* Anyone have any further insight on translating this, 寤不成寐.

** Anyone have any further insight on this medicinal name, 熟于术.

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  • Michael Tierra
    Reply

    “The patient had anger with Liver constraint. [In addition,] thought and preoccupation had damaged the Spleen. There was a yellow complexion, choppy pulse, and (s)he was [often] awake with an inability to go to sleep. Ancestor Xue’s method of treatment was used.”

    I understand from this that Ye’s first take on the patient was anger and liver constraint. This may not have been the complaint the patient was seeking relief for — it seldom is. I think the major complaint was insomnia with the choppy pulse signifying blood deficiency. The yellow complexion really brings the damaged Spleen strongly into the picture. It sticks out so strongly as the 2nd or 3rd observation that it makes me wonder, — how yellow looking was this patient? In any case damage the predominant symptoms together with insomnia very obviously points to Gui Pi tang — however it does not negate the possible usefulness of Jiao Wei xiao yao san which could be prescribed concurrently but would not have treated all the Spleen related conditions and insomnia.

    What this points out for me is that despite observing liver constraint — I don’t think that Ye believed that relieving insomnia and all the damaged blood and spleen issues with Gui pi tang would adversely affect the liver constraint. In other words he rightly kept his eye on the goal and didn’t allow himself to be sidetracked from relieving what he saw as the core first issue.

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