Xu Shu-Wei – Shang Han Lun

Xu Shu-WeiXu Shu-Wei : Discourses on the Shang Han Lun
By Steven Clavey

(Thanks Steve for this introduction and the case studies that follow. Please visit his Chinese medicine journal, The Lantern.)

Xu Shu-Wei (许叔微) was a well-known physician who lived during the Southern Song Dynasty (1075 – c. 1156). Having attained a certain level in the imperial examinations, he was known as Xu Xue-Shi — `Xu the Scholar’. He was the author of numerous works in the Shang Han Lun tradition, among which are the famous Lei Zheng Pu Ji Ben Shi Fang (Classified Formulas of Universal Benefit from My Practice), the Zhu Jie Shang Han Bai Zheng Ge (Annotated Odes of One Hundred Shang Han Conditions) and the Shang Han Jiu Shi Lun (Ninety Discourses on the Shang Han Lun). The following selections are from the latter.

This book was quite rare until its recent republication, for reasons which an editor to the comprehensive collection of Chinese books during the Qing dynasty, the Si Ku Quan Shu, describes:

[Xu] Shu-Wei’s books are written in simple yet elegant prose which does nothing to endear itself to the vulgar. Thus ever since the Ming dynasty they have not been widely disseminated. Extant texts are few, and so our Collectors have none to peruse.

This essay supplies a bit of background material for the final case discourse, in order to provide orientation in the Shang Han Lun tradition and illustrate the level of understanding this entailed. Not that Xu himself needs much help: he is unusually clear in his explanations and quite scathing in his description of those doctors who, after initially making a mess of their patients, still dared to dispute his judgement when he came to the rescue!

Case 1 – Shang Han Fever – Needling the yang ming: Case #55
Case 2 – Zhu Ling Tang– Taiyang- Insomnia: Case #12
Case 3 – Zhen wu tang – Twitching of tendons and muscles: Case #17
Case 4 – Gui Zhi Condition: Case #31 (Coming Soon)

(Reprinted from the Australian Chinese Medicine Education & Research Council Ltd Newsletter vol.2,no.5 March 1997.)

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