Li Dong Yuan: The Earth School

李东垣 Li Dong Yuan: The Earth School

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán (1180-1251) is revered as one of the Four Great Masters of Traditional Chinese Medicine during the Jin (1115-1234) & Yuan (1271–1368 ) Dynasties, and founder of the great 补土派 Earth School of thought.

His name has been memorialized alongside legendary physicians such as 劉完素 Liu Wan Su (Cold and Cooling School), 張志和 Zhang Zi He (School of Attacking and Purging), and 朱丹溪 Zhu Dan Xi (Yin Nourishing School).

These Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine shaped unique approaches to the causation, prevention and elimination of disease. All four were not afraid to challenge the existing medical framework. In doing so they innovated and brought forth revolutionary ideas and schools of thought, ushering in a renaissance of Chinese Medicine.

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán is considered the greatest of the four masters and his book 脾胃论 Pí Wèi Lùn, or Treatise on Spleen & Stomach, is one of the most important medical written masterpieces in the history of Chinese medicine.

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán 's Origin Story

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán, also known as Li Gao, came from a wealthy family. He is believed to have been a talented child, calm and quiet and someone who loved to study. Regardless of his high societal status, 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán was a young man of elevated morality who aspired to always maintain honesty and decency.

When 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán was 20 years old, his mother passed away from an illness due to her physician’s malpractice. Heartbroken from losing his mother and not being able to save her, 李东垣Lǐ Dōng Yuán set his mind on studying medicine and becoming a physician.

His teacher, the famous physician 张亓素 Zhang Yuansu agreed to teach Li Gao medicine after the young man traveled 400 miles and paid Dr Zhang a handsome sum of money to be his disciple. His strong educational background helped him in his apprenticeship and several years later 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán became a skilled physician.

It took 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán no time to build his impeccable reputation which soon surpassed that of other physicians’ including his teacher. Dr Yuán was considered an expert diagnostician and treatment strategist, who excelled in moxa therapy, herbology and food therapy.

War & Pestilence

Medical professionals during this time approached each one of their patients individually. It was also widely known that various factors far beyond the physical symptoms contributed to illness and had to be considered and evaluated on both the individual and collective levels.


Master 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán, also noted that a patients’ emotions, such as anger, joy, sadness and grief, triggered by lifestyle and outside factors such as famine, epidemics and poverty had a huge impact on the way illnesses manifested in the body.

During the Jin & Yuan Dynasties China was conquered by northern tribes as well as the Mongolian Empire. The land became plagued with epidemics of influenza as well as respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases.

It was during this time that Dr. Yuán became known for being noble. He dedicated himself to treating whole communities of people that were badly affected by the upheavals of being a conquered nation.

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán insisted that extreme stress from grief, loss of life, impure water, malnutrition and lack of shelter were the cause and this resulted in an imbalance of Qi in the Stomach and Spleen organs, both Earth Elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Earth School

As a result of all of 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán’s findings and conclusions, Dr Lǐ developed his own school of thought called “Invigorating the Earth” and founded the theory of spleen and stomach. He believed that the spleen and stomach were the center from which all diseases originate, arguing that food, emotions and lifestyle affect the body’s internal Qi.

According to 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán, weak digestion leads to exhaustion. Dr Lǐ emphasized that a distressed stomach and spleen affect one’s ability to problem solve and use intellect. He explained how such disharmony could lead to a tendency to over-ruminate and even failure to act on decisions.

In his monumental medical work 脾胃论 Pí Wèi Lùn, translated as Treatise on Spleen & Stomach, 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán wrote:

“Dietary irregularity and excessive consumption of cold or warm foods damage the Spleen and Stomach. Joy, anger, worry and fright weaken the Yuan Qi. If the Spleen and Stomach are depleted and the Yuan Qi is weakened, Fire of the Heart becomes excessive on its own. This Fire of the Heart is a Yin Fire. It starts from the Lower Burner and links with the Heart above. The Heart does not rule personally, rather the Minister Fire is its deputy. The Minister Fire is the Fire of the Pericardium (Bao Luo) developing from the Lower Burner. It is a “thief” of the Yuan Qi. This Yin Fire and the Yuan Qi are mutually opposed [cannot occupy the same place]: when one is victorious, the other is the loser. When the Spleen and Stomach Qi becomes empty, their Qi flows down to the Kidneys and Yin Fire has a chance to overwhelm the Earth. Because of this, with a Spleen pathology, there is raised Qi with breathlessness, fever, an overflowing pulse, headache, thirst. There is a feeling of cold and of heat. As Yin Fire surges upwards, there is raised Qi with breathlessness, fever, headache, thirst and an overflowing pulse. As Qi of the Stomach and Spleen sinks, Gu Qi cannot rise and float. Therefore, there is no Yang to sustain Ying and Wei Qi. As these are unable to withstand Wind and Cold, there is a feeling of heat and of cold. All this is due to a deficiency of the Stomach and Spleen. The treatment of this condition is to use pungent, sweet and warm herbs to strengthen the Centre and lift Yang, together with sweet and cold herbs to drain Fire. The use of bitter and cold herbs is absolutely counterproductive.”

Author: 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán, Work: 脾胃论 Pí Wèi Lùn, or Treatise on Spleen & Stomach Tweet

Herbal Formulas & Legacy

Many still regard李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán as one of the greatest herbalists of all time. Dr. Lǐ was a master at knowing how to direct an herb’s function either upward or downward and even how to target a specific organ with it once the herb was inside the body.

The foreword to 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán’s 脾胃论 Pí Wèi Lùn, or Treatise on Spleen & Stomach was written by his friend 元好問 Yuán Hào Wèn. In the foreword Mr. Wèn recalled a tragedy that happened several years earlier. During one of the long Mongolian sieges, citizens of one city ran out of food and began eating dead human flesh. That summer, a winter-like weather descended upon their city and an epidemic which followed killed almost a million people in just two months. Mr. Wèn believed that many lives could have been saved had the local physicians did not treated people for “cold damage”. Wèn emphasized that Dr Yuán’s theory of spleen and stomach should be embraced to avoid future tragic mistakes.

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán had several disciples who continued his work after his death. Many famous doctors of later generations also learned from 李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán school of thought and further developed his theory “Invigorating the Earth”.

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán’s herbal formula 生脈散 Sheng Mai San, or Pulse Generating Powder, is still widely used in Chinese hospitals in cardiovascular cases even today! As for his other famous formula 當歸補血湯 Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang, it is still used to quickly and deeply nourish the Qi and blood in cases of extreme blood loss.

李东垣 Lǐ Dōng Yuán was an avid proponent of self cultivation and nourishment of health in order to maintain well-being. He inspired people to live a proactively healthy life.

"Knowing how to treat the center brings all networks into balance."

– Chinese Proverb from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Tweet

Bao Gu: The Immortal Lady Bao

Bao Gu: The Immortal Lady Bao

Bao Gu lived during the 晉朝 Jin Dynasty (266 – 420 A.D.) and is celebrated as one of the four most influential female physicians of ancient China. Bao Gu’s name is among giants such as Yi Shuo, who was the first female Imperial Physician for the Empress of the 漢朝 Han Dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.), Zhang Xiao Niang Zi of the宋朝 Song Dynasty (960–1279 A.D.) and Tan Yunxian of the大明 Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 A.D.).

At a time when women learned embroidery and painting, and child bearing was their primary role, these extraordinary females rose above the societal norms and expectations, insisting on building names for themselves which still echo globally today. They served their communities with expertise, talent and unique vision.

Bao Gu gained popularity quickly amongst locals and became known by the people in her community as: Mugwort Lady Bao, Immortal Lady Bao and even Goddess of Acupuncture. Sometimes, however, she was just Aunt Bao.

She was married to the legendary physician Ge Hong, who was himself along with her father, a high-ranking Daoist magistrate and senior court official.

Bao Gu's Origin Story

Lady Bao grew up in a Daoist monastery where she learned alchemy and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Bao Gu hiked mountains with her father in search of medicinal herbs. Her father taught her everything he knew about alchemy, astronomy, geography and medicine while also infusing in her the art of healing, which she devoted her entire life to.

As a result of rigorous and devoted studies, Bao Gu became a highly skilled moxibustion practitioner. In fact, she is one of the first recorded female moxibustion practitioners in Chinese history. This allowed her to successfully treat severe cases of tumors and warts.

Bao Gu & The Crying Girl

One day Bao Gu was returning home after a routine foraging trip in the mountains to collect medicinal herbs. On her path, she noticed a young girl studying her face reflection in the river and quietly crying. Upon approaching the young girl, Bao Gu observed numerous black and brown spots on her face.

After a quick chat with the her, Bao Gu learned how the pigmentation on the girl’s face were making her feel insecure about her appearance. Hurtful remarks were often made by people in the community. The young girl feared that no one would want to marry her. She had even sought medical help, however, nothing worked. Without hesitation Lady Bao decided to help, and used the red-root mugwort herb for moxibustion treatments which were successful in clearing the girl’s face. The young girl was overjoyed and grateful.

Having grown up in the mountains, Bao Gu was a highly knowledgeable and experienced medicinal herb forager. People believe that she discovered Mugwort Floss from the Red-rooted Mugwort family on the Yuexiou Mountain and successfully used it in her moxibustion treatments. Bao Gu’s moxibustion therapy has been titled “Bao Gu Moxibustion”or “Highly Skillful Moxibustion”, expressing people’s love and respect for her work.

After scores of locals experienced miraculous cures, they started calling their physician Mugwort Lady Bao, Goddess of Acupuncture and even Immortal Lady Bao. Since it was highly unusual for a female of the time to treat patients, her name was known far and wide and even recorded in local county annals and on herbal formulations.

Together with her husband, the legendary physician Ge Hong, they traveled the local mountains healing the sick and continuously studying and perfecting the art of medicine, alchemy, and Daoism.

The Legend of Bao Gu

On a routine hike up the sacred 罗浮山 Mount Luofu in search of medicinal herbs, Bao Gu came across a village where all the people appeared weak and their skin was a dark yellow color. She inquired from the villagers on the details of their ailment but did not get her questions answered the way she would have liked. In her diagnostics of the condition which was expressing itself in the villagers, she turned to 伤寒杂病论Shang Han Za Bing Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Diseases) by 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing. Without hesitation Lady Bao stayed in the village to look for a cure.

Being a master of acupuncture and moxibustion, she used the two modalities to treat the villagers alongside a traditional herbal formula, which consisted of such ingredients as peach kernels, mulberry tree leaves and hawthorns to name a few. It took her a couple of weeks to cure the villagers. Before going on her way, Lady Bao shared the medicinal herbal formula she used to heal the villagers with them.

Bao Gu’s mastery of alchemy was so sophisticated that according to the Chinese folklore she never died. Instead she transformed into an Immortal. After Lady Bao transitioned, the locals constructed an Ancestral Hall at the base of the Yuexiou Mountains out of love and in tribute to her medical contributions.

For many centuries now Bao Gu has been a role model to all physicians aspiring to reach for the stars and become the best versions of themselves while in humble service to others.

Chao Yuanfang & The Zhubing Yuanhou Lun

巢元方 Chao Yuanfang

巢元方 Chao Yuanfang was a highly influential physician and author in China whose impact in his own community as well as neighboring Japan influenced medical sciences that are still referenced today.

There are not many records about Dr. Yuanfang’s birth and life. He lived during two great Chinese dynasties: the Sui Dynasty (581-618 A.D.) through the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).

The Sui Dynasty is known for great advancements in medical studies and research. During this time the first Ministry of Imperial Physicians was established. One of the roles of this institution was medical education. The size of the organization surpassed all others in the world at the time.

Some of the tasks that the scholars had to focus on were collecting, organizing and cataloging data on Chinese Medicine from antiquity, such as herbal prescriptions and other modalities.

巢元方 Chao Yuanfang’s skill and experience promoted him to Court Physician and later Minister of Imperial Medical Affairs as well as Academician of the Imperial Medical Academy. He was considered a medical scholar and erudite.

諸病源候論 Zhubing Yuanhou Lun: General Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of All Diseases

Dr. Yuanfang is best known for a medical text entitled 諸病源候論 Zhubing Yuanhou Lun, translated as General Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of All Diseases. It is often considered to be a medical encyclopedia and is used as a theoretical basis in medical research and discussion.

After it was published in the early 600’s, it strongly influenced further development of medical sciences. The book reviews pathology, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics. The Treatise consists of fifty scrolls and covers more than one thousand seven hundred medical conditions, both internal and external.

One of the exclusive features that this medical compendium offers is more than one hundred sets of therapeutic Dao Yin breathing and stretching exercises, each one prescribed for specific medical conditions. As a matter of fact, the 諸病源候論 Zhubing Yuanhou Lun is one of the earliest Chinese medical texts that includes therapeutic Dao Yin exercises and food therapy as a way of treatment.

A Japanese physician named 丹波康赖 Tamba Yasuyori was so inspired by Dr Yuanfang’s General Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of All Diseases that he wrote 醫心方 Ishinpo. Now considered a national treasure in Japan, this work is the oldest surviving Japanese medical text and was completed in 984.

Ancient Science & Modern Applications

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that what certain medical communities today call autism was recorded in China as early as in the seventh century by 巢元方Chao Yuanfang. They further clarified that Dr. Yuanfang wrote about hun se (muddle-headed) and yu chi (language delay) manifestations, expressed in a child’s lack of speech and neurodevelopmental delays in his monumental work 諸病源候論 Zhubing Yuanhou Lun, translated as General Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of All Diseases.

The ancient wisdom and legacy of 巢元方 Chao Yuanfang echoes through practitioners of Asian Medicine and the medical community to this very day.

Here at Si Jin Bao we honor Dr. 巢元方Chao Yuanfang by continuing his devotion to the study and practice of Chinese Medicine.

Grandmaster Wong Fei-hung

黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung's Origin Story

Today we will be discussing the incredible life of 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung. He is considered one of the forefathers of modern day martial arts, a master bone setter and a folk hero.

黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung was born near Foshan (Bruce Lee’s ancestral home) in 1847 and was given the name 锡祥 Sek-cheung by his parents. He lived during late Qing Dynasty (1636-1912).

His father, 黃麒英 Wong Kei-ying, was a master martial artist and a famed herbalist. He taught his son everything he knew. It was not hard as 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung was a quick learner and an amiable kid, who quickly made many friends in both the martial and medical worlds which exposed him to vast amounts of information and ancient wisdom.

黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung began practicing martial arts as early as 5 years old under his father’s supervision who was one of the Ten Tigers of Canton.

广东十虎 The Ten Tigers of Canton

广东十虎 The Ten Tigers of Canton were ten Chinese martial artists known as the best fighters in southern China during late Qing Dynasty. Only the best of the best had this famed title bestowed upon them. To this day the Ten Tigers of Canton are considered to be folk legends and stories about their lives and accomplishments are passed down from generation to generation. Many believe that the Ten Tigers traced their lineage all the way back to the Buddhist fighters of the Southern Shaolin monastery.

When growing up 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung together with his father traveled around and participated in martial performances held on the streets. As was customary then, and still is today, many master martial artists are also highly skilled and experienced physicians. Both 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung and his father were no exception. They sold herbs after the performances and practiced bone setting.

跌打 Dit Da

跌打Dit Da is a bone setting procedure practiced by martial artists. It is an ancient practice dating back at least 4,000 years and the expertise is usually transferred from master to disciple within the walls of martial temples in China.

跌打Dit Da is more than just traditional bone setting to treat physical injuries, it also deals with bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, arteries and Qi meridians by stimulating the body’s natural healing processes for a quicker and more complete recovery. 跌打 Dit Da also incorporates several modalities ranging from massage, acupressure, Qigong to herbal applications such as compresses and infusions.

After years of selling herbs and practicing bone setting on the road, 黃麒英 Wong Kei-ying and 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung had gained popularity and saved enough to establish a successful martial arts school and clinic they called 寶芝林Po Chi Lam. Both father and son were talented and highly skilled acupuncturists, bone setters, and herbalists.

The Martial Artist

黃麒英Wong Kei-ying and 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung were known for always standing up for the weak and extending a helping hand to the poor. They never turned a patient away, even those who couldn’t afford a treatment. Certain criminal gangs and corrupt government elements who dared to oppress the weak and poor had to face the wrath and exceptional martial skill of the Wong family.

Chinese folklore praises 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung for his heroic efforts to encourage pride and dignity in the community at a time when national morale was affected by strong foreign oppression.

黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung’s exceptional martial and medical skills got him a position in the army and local militia fighting colonialism both as a physician and martial arts teacher.

In fact, according to legend 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung was so accomplished with the Chinese Staff and Southern Tiger Fork that he once single-handedly defeated a group of 30 gangsters with just a staff.

黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung is also greatly famed for his “no shadow” kick technique and Lion Dancing mastery. Many still call him the King of Lions. His “no shadow” kick was so fast and flawless that it literally did not leave a shadow. And if that is not enough, 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung is presumed not to have lost a single battle in his life.

The Man & The Legend

No photographs of 黄飞鸿Wong Fei-hung that can be found in the world as he believed that taking one’s photograph shortens his or her life span.

黄飞鸿Wong Fei-hung had many students, many of whom became revolutionaries and spread his teachings across China and later the entire world. His wife 莫桂兰 Mok Kwai-lan, and their two sons moved to Hong Kong and established successful martial arts schools and clinics there after 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung’s death in 1925.

When his famed 寶芝林 Po Chi Lam clinic and martial arts school was destroyed by the government during an attempt to suppress a local uprising in 1924, 黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung was deeply saddened. Heartbroken he fell into depression as a result and became ill eventually unable to recover.

黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung has been immortalized in more than 100 films and television series. His character is even featured in a video game and a theme song. He remains the most prolific hero of Kung Fu movies and the Wong Fei-hung series holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest running movie series.

In memory of his greatness and colossal contribution to the world, the Wong Fei-hung Lion Dance Martial Arts Museum was established in黄飞鸿 Wong Fei-hung’s hometown of Foshan in 1966. In 2000 a Wong Fei-hung Memorial Hall was built in his honor in the same town.

Liu Wan Su: The Cold & Cooling School

Liu Wan su (Liu Wansu)
Liu Wan su (Liu Wansu)

The Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine

劉完素 Liu Wan Su lived from 1110–1200 and is revered as one of the Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine during the 金朝 Jin Dynasty (1115 – 1234). His name has been memorialized alongside 張志和 Zhang Zi He (School of Attacking and Purging), 李东垣 Li Dong Yuan (Earth School), and 朱丹溪 Zhu Dan Xi (Yin Nourishing School).

These Four Great Masters of Chinese Medicine shaped unique approaches to the causation, prevention and elimination of disease. All four were not afraid to challenge the existing medical framework. In doing so they innovated and brought forth revolutionary ideas and schools of thought, ushering in a renaissance of Chinese Medicine.

劉完素 Liu Wan Su was born into a poor family. As a young boy his mother tragically died after numerous attempts to provide medical treatment for her failed. In fact, there was not one local physician who would agree to visit the woman when she desperately required medical assistance. This influenced 劉完素 Liu Wan Su to immerse himself in the medical arts and sciences.

Deeply moved by his grief, 劉完素 Liu Wan Su undertook a detailed and rigorous study of the 黄帝内经 Huangdi Neijing, translated as the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. After managing to acquire specialized medical knowledge and experience, 劉完素 Liu Wan Su’s attention fell primarily on febrile diseases.

“Witness and observe to become a sage”

劉完素 Liu Wan Su: The Master Herbalist

At that time the medical community, lead by the Song Imperial Bureau of
 Medicine, focused on using herbs of warm nature. Instead 劉完素 Liu Wan Su promoted the use of medicinal herbs of a cool nature. He argued that because the body’s internal Qi is warm in nature, a pathogen entering the body would adjust to the internal Qi and acquire the same warmth as a result. Therefore, medicinal herbs of a cooling nature were preferential according to 劉完素 Liu Wan Su.

Doctor Liu Wan Su quickly became a master herbalist and even found his own school of thought known as the Cold and Cooling School. Some of the most popular herbal formulations that came from 劉完素 Liu Wan Su are Six to One Powder (Liu Yi San) and Powder to Benefit Vitality (Yi Yuan San). His Siler and Platycodon herbal formula (Fang Feng Tong Sheng San) is still highly popular in the medical community of both China and Japan.

When I was twenty-five I directed my aspirations to the Neijing. Day and night I
 never put the book aside. When I was nearly sixty I chanced to meet a celestial
man, who gave me a beautiful wine to drink. I had only about a chestnut-hull’s 
full, but my face turned red as though I were drunk. After I awoke my eyes were
 perceptive and my mind keen; I had been greatly illuminated.

Though doctor Liu Wan Su believed and practiced the Cold and Cooling approach, he examined each case on an individual basis and modified his prescriptions in accordance with each case’s uniqueness, taking in consideration environmental influences, patients’ constitutions and symptoms.

劉完素 Liu Wan Su: The People's Physician

Ice and snow of spring are beneficial to the pine and cedar but harmful to the willow.

劉完素 Liu Wan Su’s fame eventually attracted the attention of the imperial court prompting three invitations to come practice medicine at the court from the emperor himself. Yet, doctor Liu Wan Su chose and managed to keep his distance and continued practicing medicine in his local community while providing medical assistance to people from all walks of life.

Doctor Liu Wan Su shared his knowledge and expertise in written texts that continue to be referenced by the medical community around the globe even today. Some of his valuable works include: Exploration of the Mechanism of Illness Based on the Suwen (Suwen Xuanji Yuanbing Shi) and Discussion of Febrile Diseases (Shanghan Zhige).

劉完素 Liu Wan Su was also proficient in both the Buddhism and Daoism and never stopped encouraging and inspiring his patients to seek self-cultivation and self-discovery as a means to enlightenment and enrichment, not just individual but also collective.

Be in a place of looking out while also looking inward.

The Legacy of Zhang Yuansu

张亓素 Zhang Yuansu's Origin Story

张亓素Zhang Yuansu was born in Yi Shui, Hebei Province in the 金朝 Jin Dynasty (1115–1234 A.D.). When he was just 8 years old, 张亓素Zhang Yuansu passed an imperial exam for children. However, Zhang failed to pass the imperial examination for scholars based on Confucian classics at the age of 27 and decided to give up on his intent to pursue the path of an official.

Instead he chose to explore the medical profession and without delay dove into studying medical classics. He started with the 黄帝内经 Huangdi Neijing, or Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the original source of Chinese medicine for more than two thousand years.

In time, 张亓素 Zhang Yuansu gained experience and developed skill. A well known story about Dr. Yuansu describes how he cured a fellow famed physician who failed to heal himself. Liu Wansu rejected 张亓素 Zhang Yuansu’s offers of help out of mistrust. Only after Dr. Yuansu convinced Dr. Wansu of his medical theory and a proposed treatment approach, was Dr. Yuansu able to heal Dr. Wansu. It only took one dose of medicinal herbs. This earned him respect and admiration from his colleagues and the community.

五行 Wuxing & the Effects of Herbal Medicine

张亓素 Zhang Yuansu is remembered for several great accomplishments. He integrated medicinal materials into the 五行 Wuxing, or the five element framework: 金 Jīn, or Metal, 火 Huǒ, or Fire, 土Tǔ, or Earth, 木 Mù, or Wood and 水 Shuǐ, or Water.

Traditional practices of acupuncture and herbal medicine, though already coexisted within the same medical framework at the time, were still often looked at as separate sciences. 张亓素 Zhang Yuansu found it of great importance to unify the two, adding simplicity and clarity to the medical culture.

张亓素 Dr. Yuansu devoted great attention to the effects of herbal medicine. He started by linking the effects of herbs and the physical reactions stimulated by acupuncture treatments. He then defined how flavors of medicinal herbs had effects on different internal organs. He insisted that upon entering a patient’s body, herbs had a way to enter and influence meridians or highways through which the life-energy known as Qi flows.

Dr. Yuansu’s goal was to link effects of medicinal herbs and influences that pathogens had on particular meridians.

“The method of appropriately using herbs in accordance with the symptoms and sign presentations of a patient entails determining substances with the correct Qi, taste, Yin and Yang, and thick and thin properties as well as the pathogenic factor involved and the meridian it has entered.”- 张亓素Zhang Yuansu

Dr. Yuansu insisted that if pathological conditions of the organs were clearly observed and identified, a proper diagnosis could be made and appropriate therapy chosen.

 

The Modernizer

张亓素 Zhang Yuansu was a modernizer. He argued that diseases of his time had to be approached in a unique way, characteristic of that specific era. He believed that social and geographical conditions had new trends and manifestations and therefore had to be factored in. He did not reject or oppose traditional herbal formulas or methods of formulation and treatment, but, he insisted on making reasonable adjustments in accordance with the current medical conditions. This somewhat revolutionary approach was birthed at the time when Chinese government heavily regulated collection, manufacturing and distribution of herbal medicine and also interpreted causation of disease and standard methods of treatment in a highly narrow and rigid manner.

“In view of different conditions between the ancient and modern times, it is impractical to treat new diseases with old methods. Therefore, the obsolete traditional formulas are to be replaced by modern prescriptions.”

张亓素Zhang Yuansu left several influential written medical works he authored. 醫學啟源Yixue Qiyuan Origins of Medicine was published in 1186 and influenced medical thought for centuries and still does today.

Dr. 张亓素 Zhang Yuansu's Legacy

张亓素 Zhang Yuansu left several influential written medical works he authored. 醫學啟源Yixue Qiyuan Origins of Medicine was published in 1186 and influenced medical thought for centuries and still does today.

“Prescriptions of the past are not appropriate for the illnesses of today.”

The zenith of Dr. Yuansu’s work is considered to be the text called 珍珠囊Zhenzhu Nang, or Bag of Pearls. His focus always remained on new and broader methods of understanding and using medicinal herbs in herbal formulations.

Tao Hongjing: Grand Councilor of the Mountains

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing: Grand Councilor of the Mountains

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing was born near the southern imperial capital of Jiankang (modern day Nanjing) in the year 456 and lived during the Northern and Southern Dynasties of China (420 – 589).

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing was an extraordinary human being who excelled in everything he set his mind to. He was revered by his contemporaries and is still remembered today as a prolific poet, musician, philosopher, calligrapher, alchemist, herbologist, astrologist, and Daoist.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing was born into a family of gentry officials with a long history of service to the imperial courts since the fall of the Han dynasty (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.).

Both his father and paternal grandfather were famed scholars, calligraphers and herbologists. As for his mother and maternal grandfather, they were both devoted and well-versed Buddhists.

The Hongjing family had ties to some of the most famed Daoists in China, including the legendary scholar, physician and alchemist Ge Hong.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing was an exceptional child. He completed several commentaries on Confucian classics at an early age. Tao studied 神仙傳 Shenxian Zhuan, or Biographies of the Immortals day and night while mastering its ideas of nourishing life when he was just 10 years old.

By his early twenties he achieved success in working as a public official, quickly earning himself a favorable reputation at the imperial court. He was soon appointed “reader in attendance” to Imperial Princes which was a highly coveted position at the time.

His exemplary intellect and scholastic accomplishments earned him deep respect and gave him freedom to enter elite social circles and gatherings dedicated to philosophy and literature.

Yet worldly matters never interested Tao much. Back when he read 神仙傳Shenxian Zhuan, or Biographies of the Immortals at 10 years old, he became inspired to become a hermit. Starting from that point in his life he always aspired to become a recluse and lead a scholarly life in seclusion.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing & 茅山 Mount Mao Shan

After his mother’s passing in the year 484, 陶弘景 Tao Hongjing resigned all of his posts and became a disciple of a Daoist Master Sun Youyue. In the year 492 at the age of 36 years old, Tao at last fully renounced secular life and devoted himself to studying Daoism. He withdrew to the mountain 茅山 Mao Shan which is considered a portal to the Daoist world by many.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing maintained both the respect and support offered to him by the Imperial house even after becoming a hermit. What is more, he exerted great influence on the Emperor himself who often visited mount 茅山 Mao Shan to consult 陶弘景 Tao Hongjing on important matters of state.

Utilizing the sponsorship and support provided by the Emperor, 陶弘景 Tao Hongjing was able to build the 華陽館 Huayang Guan, or Hermitage of Flourishing Yang on 茅山 Mao Shan mountain where people received spiritual guidance.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing became quickly known as the Grand Councilor of the Mountains.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing and his disciples did not waste any time and began reconstructing the Shang Qing, or Supreme Clarity scriptural corpus right away. They authenticated and edited manuscripts, and also wrote as well as extended the commentaries on them. Some of their major projects were the compilation of two literary compendiums: 真誥 Zhen Gao, or Declarations of the Perfected and Deng Zhen Yin Jue, or Secret Instructions for Ascent to Perfection. 真誥 Zhen Gao for example contained some details of the concealed geography of the 茅山 Mao Shan mountain and poetry which gained popularity during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).

The Elixir of Immortality

In the early 500’s, 梁武帝 Emperor Wu of Liang commissioned 陶弘景 Tao Hongjing to perform alchemical experiments and develop an elixir of immortality. Master Hongjing exerted a great amount of time and energy while attempting to find a viable formula. In the end, however, he was unable to reach his goal. His detailed notes taken during research and experimentation are considered to be some of the earliest records of alchemical experimentation in China in existence and are still widely referenced today.

The alchemical experiments and research into proper eating and living practices invigorated his old passion for herbology. He felt inspired to dedicate a part of his time and energy to further research, authentication, editing and rearrangement of the already existing information on herbology.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing began with one of the original Chinese works, the 神农本草经 Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, or Classic of the Materia Medica traditionally attributed to 神农 Shen Nong, or ‘Divine Farmer’, who is believed to have introduced ancient Chinese herbal medicine. He reorganized, expanded and annotated the material in an innovative manner.

Classic of the Materia Medica originally listed 365 herbs. 陶弘景 Tao Hongjing doubled the number of herbal entries using other medical classics. He then arranged all of the listed herbs into several categories: plants, trees, minerals, insects, animals, fruits, vegetables and grains: which are still in use today. He also categorized all of the herbs into three classes: upper class herbs promoted longevity, middle class herbs prevented illness and lower class herbs treated symptoms.

In addition to this legendary work, 陶弘景 Tao Hongjing authored other texts focused on herbology. Some of them include: 陶隱居本草 Tao Yinju Bencao, or Hermit Tao’s Herbal Medicine, 藥總訣 Yao Zongjue, or General Medicinal Formulas, and 養生延命錄 Yangsheng Yanming Lu, or Extracts on Nourishing Spiritual Nature and Prolonging Bodily Life.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing's Legacy

陶弘景Tao Hongjing was a Daoist priest, however, thanks to his mother and maternal grandfather he was fluent in Buddhism as well. As a result, he never stopped befriending Buddhist priests throughout his lifetime and participated in the ongoing conversation about Buddhist nature and significance.

陶弘景 Tao Hongjing’s talents, skills, passions and contributions were so amazingly versatile that he is often regarded as the Chinese counterpart of Leonardo da Vinci.

The Journey of Jian Zhen

The Journey of 鑒真 Jianzhen

Traditional Japanese Medicine originated from Traditional Chinese Medicine and was first introduced to Japan directly from the mainland of China.

One of the first men who brought Traditional Chinese Medicine to Japan was 鑒真 Jianzhen.

鑒真 Jianzhen was not proficient in medicine only. As a matter of fact, he is best known for his monkhood. In addition to teaching and practicing medicine and propagating Buddhism in Japan, Jiah Zhen greatly influenced Japanese architecture, sculpture, calligraphy and other aspects of its culture.

鑒真 Jianzhen​'s Origin Story

鑒真 Jianzhen lived during the Tang Dynasty of China (618 – 907 A.D.) and its golden age of arts and culture which spread across much of Asia. 鑒真 Jianzhen was born into a devout Buddhist family in 688 A.D. They resided in Jiangyin county in Guangling Prefecture (present day Yangzhou, Jiangsu) on China’s east coast, a major cosmopolitan center and economic powerhouse.

At the age of 14 years old on one of the trips to a Buddhist temple with his father, young Jian was so impressed and moved by massive statues of Buddha, that he decided to become a monk. Jian’s family did not oppose their son’s intent but instead welcomed it and supported the boy.

Jian’s journey began as a novice in the local temple where he spent six years studying Buddhist teachings. After Jian was ordained a monk at the age of 20, he went traveling far and wide. On his journey Jian closely studied the doctrines, sutras, Buddhist precepts (rules and etiquette governing the functions of the Buddhist congregation) and Vinaya (procedures and conventions of etiquette that support harmonious relations among monks as well as their followers and supporters) which deepened his understanding immensely.

At the age of 26 鑒真 Jianzhen began teaching Buddhist precepts. He was so well versed in the wisdom that he quickly became highly reputable even earning a “Master of Buddhist Precepts” title among his followers.

At the age of 40 鑒真 Jianzhen returned to his hometown where he spent the next 10 years promulgating Buddhism in the local temple. He also participated in building new temples and Buddha statues, authored written works and devoted himself to beneficence.

China's Golden Age

鑒真 Jianzhen was known to be an expert in medicine. When at the Daming Temple in his hometown, Jian opened a hospital and a place of healing for the community where he offered free medical care and herbs to those in need. He was highly intelligent, highly skilled, and very devoted.

Since China was going through its golden age at the time, many countries including Japan sent their scholars, doctors and monks to China to study medicine, Buddhism, the structure of government, architecture, literature, written language, customs and other arts and sciences.

That is how in 742 two Japanese priests, Yoei and Fusho, found their way to the abbot 鑒真 Jianzhen of Yangzhou. They were on a mission to bring Chinese monks to Japan to propagate Buddhism which had already began flourishing.

鑒真 Jianzhen quickly and willingly agreed to shoulder the important task of promoting the Buddhist precepts in Japan. However, it would take him and his disciples 11 years and six failed attempts to reach the shores of Japan and begin spreading the message of Buddha to the Japanese people.

The Journey to Japan

Traveling by boat overseas was illegal at the time. While facing elaborate challenges in an attempt to overcome that hurdle, enmity between two of Jian’s disciples led to the discovery of their plan by the authorities which put an end to their trip before it could even begin.

The next two attempts failed due to severe weather conditions at sea. On the third try the boat on which Jian was traveling was destroyed by a typhoon and he narrowly escaped death.

In Jian’s 4th attempt to travel to Japan his followers clang to him so strongly that they refused to let him leave. They informed the authorities about 2 Japanese priests’ plans to abduct master Jian and take him to Japan.

On the 5th try, one of Jian’s disciples was worried for his master’s frail health and felt a need to “protect” him from the dangerous journey. The disciple reported Jian’s intention of traveling to Japan to the authorities which put an end to the trip.

On the 6th attempt, Jian and his disciples managed to sail away, however, they underestimated the amount of food and drinking water they were going to need on their journey. They ran out of drinking water and in the end, their boat drifted far away from their destination and ran aground in Southern China. Shortly after Jian’s physical health weakened and he turned blind from an infection.

Still 鑒真 Jianzhen’s resolve to reach Japan and propagate Buddhism to the Japanese people never weakened and he never let go of his intent.

In 753 a group of Japanese emissaries visiting China offered to take 鑒真 Jianzhen to Japan on their ship. Under the cover of night and in strict secrecy, 鑒真 Jianzhen was finally able to sail to Japan. He was welcomed by the Emperor and Empress of Japan who put him in charge of preaching Buddhism in the country and bestowed upon him the title “Grand Master of Transmitting the Light”.

Medicinal Herbs & Treatments

鑒真 Jianzhen brought many books and cultural relics with him. He taught Chinese culture and medicine throughout the country, which significantly promoted the development of Japanese Buddhism and medicine. It is believed that Jian brought 36 kinds of herbs with him from China. They were the following:

  • 麻黄 Ma Huang, or Herba Ephedrae
  • 细辛 Xi Xin, or Herba Asari
    芍药 Shao Yao, or Radix Paeoniae
  • 附子 Fu Zi, or Radix Aconiti Carmichaeli
  • 远志 Yuan Zhi, or Radix Polygalae
  • 黄芪 Huang Qi, or Radix Astragali
  • 甘草 Gan Cao, or Radix liquiritiae
  • 苦参 Ku Shen, or Radix Sophorae Flavescentis
  • 当归 Dang Gui, or Radix Angelicae Sinensis
  • 柴胡 Chai Hu, or Radix Bupleuri
  • 川芎 Chuan Xiong, or Rhizoma Chuanxiong
  • 玄参 Xuan Shen, or Radix Scrophulariae
  • 地黄 Di Huang, or Rehmannia glutinosa
  • 紫苏 Zi Su, or Perilla frutescens
  • 丹参 Dan Shen, or Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae
  • 黄芩 Huang Qin, or Radix Scutellariae
  • 桔梗 Jie Geng, or Platycodon grandiflorus
  • 旋覆花 Xuan Fu Hua, or Flos lnuJae
  • 苍术 Cang Zhu, or Rhizoma Atractylodis
  • 知母 Zhi Mu, or Rhizoma Anemarrhenae
  • 半夏 Ban Xia, or Rhizoma Pinelliae
  • 芫花 Yuan Hua, or Flos Genkwa
  • 栀子 Zhi Zi, or Fructus Gardeniae
  • 五味子 Wu Wei Zi Fructus Schisandra chinensis
  • 黄柏 Huang Bo, or Cortex Phellodendri Chinensi
  • 杏仁 Xing Ren, or Fructus Almond
  • 厚朴 Hou Po, or Cortex Magnoliae officinalis
  • 和厚朴 He Hou Po, or Magnolia Obovata
  • 肉桂 Rou Gui, or Cortex Cinnamomi
  • 杜仲 Du Zhong, or Cortex Eucommiae
  • 木瓜 Mu Gua, or Fructus Chaenomelis
  • 大枣 Da Zao, or Fructus Zizyphi
  • 蜀椒 Shu Jiao, or Sichuan Pepper
  • 吴茱萸 Wu Zhu Yu, or Fructus Evodiae.

He taught the Japanese people how to distinguish medicinal herbs, collect and store them, how to extract their medicinal properties and how to use them in medicinal herbal formulas. By that time Master Jian was blind and used his acute sense of smell to distinguish each herb.

鑒真 Jianzhen actively advocated the medical classic 伤寒杂病论 Shang Han Za Bing Lun, or Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Diseases by the legendary Chinese physician 张仲景 Zhang Zhongjing and even compiled prescriptions he trusted and found most efficient in the 鉴上人秘方 Jian Shang Ren Mi Fang, or Treasurable Prescriptions by Master 鑒真 Jianzhen.

When the Japanese Empress dowager was critically ill, only 鑒真 Jianzhen’s prescriptions were efficient in helping her.

Master 鑒真 Jianzhen's Legacy

鑒真 Jianzhen is still considered one of the founding fathers of Japanese medicine and herbaceuticals. Many Japanese people still honor him as the ancestor of Japanese medicine. His image is still printed on the medicine bags of herbacies in Japan.

His life story is retold in the scroll, “The Sea Journey to the East of a Great Bonze from the Tang Dynasty.”

Here at Si Jin Bao we honor Master 鑒真 Jianzhen by sharing his legacy of devotion, determination, skill and perseverance.

Wáng Shū Hē and The Pulse Canon

王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē and The Pulse Canon

王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē is one of many revered Chinese medical scientists of the past whose hard work, dedication and expertise are spoken about and still consulted by medical professionals across the globe today.

王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē lived in the late second and third century, though the exact dates of his birth and death are unclear. Wáng Shū Hē was a native of Gaoping, what is now Gaoping County, Shanxi Province of China. He was born into nobility and lived during a few periods of Chinese history: The Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), The Three Kingdoms (220 to 280 AD) and Western Jin Dynasty (266–316 AD). His family status allowed him superior education and from an early age Wáng Shū Hē expressed interest in medical arts.

王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē immersed himself in ancient teachings. The young man studied all the classical medical texts he could access and researched pathogeny in depth. He trusted classical texts reverently, however, he did not follow their teachings blindly. He did his own research and study as well and learned from other experienced and skilled prominent doctors.

王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē: The Imperial Physician

His fame and medical expertise quickly acquired him the position of a medical doctor in the army of the warlord 曹操 Cao Cao. At the age of 32 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē became an imperial physician. Later in life Dr. Wáng Shū Hē was appointed Minister of Imperial Medical Affairs.

His position and status at the Imperial Court allowed 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē access to even more medical materials and literature. His strengths and interests were herbal prescriptions, food therapy, and diagnostics.

Many famous doctors have speculated that 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē may have been 張仲景 Zhang Zhong Jing’s disciple. What is well known though is that 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē played an integral role in preserving one of the most important classics of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Zhang Zhong Jing’s 傷寒論 Shang Han Lun, or “Treatise on Cold Damage Diseases”.

During that period of time there was chaotic infighting between different warlords and conquests in various parts of China. As a result of the turmoil, the original 傷寒論Shang Han Lun text was lost after its publication. 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē made an immense effort to find and gather all of the pieces of the medical work from far and wide and then recompile them into one cohesive book which was then divided into two parts: Treatise on Febrile Disease and Golden Summary. If not for 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē’s dedication and hard work, the invaluable text would have been lost to the streams of time.

脈經 Mài Jīng: The Pulse Canon

王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē’s magnus opus is 脈經 Mài Jīng, or the Pulse Canon which is considered the earliest monograph on sphygmology or the study and examination of the pulse in China.

“A famous physician 扁鵲 Bian Que (407 – 310 BC) examined the pulse of a prince who was pronounced dead, concluding that the man was just in a coma. An acupuncture treatment and an herbal medicine prescription quickly resuscitated the “dead” prince.”

Sphygmology or the study and examination of the pulse is an ancient practice and goes back thousands of years. The first written record of sphygmology can be found in the 黃帝內經 Huang Di Nei Jing, or Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine (300-200 BC). Even back then, physicians had the ability to “read” the unique patterns of an individual’s body, and as a result diagnose illness.

Sphygmology or the study and examination of the pulse had been mentioned in many Chinese medical classics and explained by various schools of thought before 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē’s time. What Dr. Hē felt was that there was an urgent need to gather all of the knowledge and skill and compile it into one comprehensive monographic text devoted entirely to sphygmology. He believed that a text with all of the information would help physicians correctly apply pulse feeling diagnostic techniques.

And so 脈經 Mài Jīng, or the Pulse Canon was born. The text consists of 10 scrolls and 97 chapters. Many scientists believe that in this work 王叔和 Wáng Shū Hē highlighted the information and knowledge from the following schools of thought and lineages: Huangdi Neijing, Huangdi Bashiyi Nanjing, Bian Que, Zhang Zhong Jing, Cang Gong and Hua Tuo. In the 脈經 Mài Jīng the pulses are divided into 24 distinct categories. The differentiation is meant to determine whether a patient is sick, what kind of illness he or she is suffering from, the severity of the illness, and the ability of the patient to respond to treatment.

The Pulse Canon quickly gained popularity and credibility and served as a medical text of reference during the Jin Dynasty (266–420 AD), the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), the Song Dynasty (960–1279) and the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). It was so influential that in 1313 a Persian historian, philosopher and medical doctor Avicenna included a translation of 脈經 Mài Jīng in his major work Canon of Medicine which was in use as a standard medical textbook at many Islamic and European universities until the early 19th century.

It is unclear how王叔和 Wáng Shū He died. Yet his timeless contributions to the humanity as a whole live on in his invaluable medical works referenced and consulted by professionals from around the world until today.

Tan Yunxian: Female Physician Spotlight

談允賢 Tan Yunxian: Famous Ming Dynasty Female Physician

Some of the most brilliant physicians in the history of mankind have come from China. Many of these healers were women, which came with its own difficulties and controversies in order to be recognized and even allowed to use their skills to help people. Today we will be discussing one such incredible woman.

談允賢 Tan Yunxian was born in 1461 and lived during the Ming Dynasty where literature, poetry, and painting flourished. The population doubled and medical sciences reached their peak while they experienced a renaissance.

談允賢 Tan Yunxian was born into a family of generational physicians. Both her great grandfather and grandfather were respected doctors. Even her grandmother was very well versed in diagnosing and treating disease thanks to her father. It is said that 談允賢 Tan Yunxian’s grandfather married her grandmother because he sought to learn medicine from her talented and skilled father who was a revered physician. Marrying into the family gave him a chance to learn secret ways and prescriptions of that particular lineage.

It is important to note that females during the Ming Dynasty could not attend a medical school or study under a master and then open their own medical clinic after graduating. China was a patriarchal society at the time, just like many other places in the world, who often looked at women that strove to become more than just a housewife unfavorably. Some of the females had to even defy cultural traditions in order to pursue their dreams.

When Tan was still a little girl she often demonstrated wisdom beyond her years and great potential for learning. Her grandparents decided to teach her medicine and impart their knowledge onto her.

 

The girl is very clever, quite out of the ordinary. When she is grown she will be able to practice my medical arts.

談允賢 Tan Yunxian's Grandfather Tweet

談允賢 Tan Yunxian began studying medicine at the age of 10 and was often seen reading classical medical texts day and night.

The Empathetic Physician

After she got married, Doctor Tan Yunxian faced her own health issues and was unable to get pregnant. As a result this led her on a path to becoming her own physician.

Strict Ming Dynasty practices did not allow men to touch their female patients. They had a difficult time understanding or simply relating to women. Moreover, females themselves did not trust the intimate details of their lives to male physicians.  Therefore, male doctors often delegated diagnosing and treating females to their female assistants or those rare female physicians stepped in and made it their specialty to treat women and children.

That is where 談允賢 Tan Yunxian also found her niche. Having successfully dealt with her own reproductive issues and giving birth to four healthy children, she was able to understand other females, what they were suffering from, relate to their challenges, and empathize with women. By being very effective she quickly gained fame in the entire region. Her specialties were menstrual irregularities, miscarriages, infertility and postpartum fatigue. Women felt safe sharing intimate details of their lives with Doctor Tan Yunxian which assisted both the physician and the patient in effective and fast recovery.

Doctor Tan Yunxian’s strengths were herbal prescriptions which were passed onto her by her grandmother and moxibustion over specified points on the body which stimulates the circulation of Qi. When a list of medical professionals was compiled by the Ming government 談允賢, Tan Yunxian was among the physicians listed.

Miscellaneous Records of a Female Doctor

談允賢 Tan Yunxian was also an author which was a very rare accomplishment for a female of that time. At the age of 50, after she had gained massive experience, Doctor Tan Yunxian decided to write a book called Miscellaneous Records of a Female Doctor. Her work consisted of 31 cases she effectively treated. Her goal was to share her expertise with the future generations. The text includes cases of abortion, menstrual disorders, postpartum ailments and abdominal lumps. When Doctor Tan finished her work, she could not just publish it. No publishing or bookselling shop would agree to deal with a female. But Doctor Tan found a way. She had her son publish her work under his name. Her expertise is still referenced today.

Doctor Tan Yunxian was a revolutionary of her time, however, she was humble, gentle, and simply wanted to be of assistance to her community in the way she loved and knew how.

At 96, I wish I could call forth the stream of patients, women mostly, I have healed these years—the tender virgin girls who came with rashes on their secret parts; women with periods not right or for whom sex caused pain; those who could not conceive a child. Ashamed to open up their treasury of womanhood to a male physician's touch, they flocked to me, some with a reddened part quiet easily cured; some with menstrual trials; others, more seriously, nearly mad in the aftermath of a difficult birth—
the things the men who practice healing arts record as "women's complaints." That I was 
a wife and mother made me empathize with them and their distress; and I could cure
the womb, vagina, breasts. My son will cut the woodblocks for prints of the book I wrote.
The Sayings of a Female Doctor lies a manuscript. The booksellers will not publish a text by a woman, even one who served for years, to whom nobility, the royal court, the wealthy looked for cures. Self-published, it might see the light of day. With no apprenticeship, no study with a master healer (who must be a man), I’m scorned. My voice from eighty years spent in the medicinal arts will cease, will go unheard, and my advice will quietly die, unpublished. Slender chance my own copies will sell. The merchants who run bookshops won't give up space for my title in their stalls. These silences—a woman's voice is stilled not out of death and not from a disease of body, but of body politic. I hope healing will come to this soft plague, this lack of voice, this blockage, this complaint.

Doctor 談允賢 Tan Yunxian Tweet

Here at Si Jin Bao we honor Doctor 談允賢 Tan Yunxian by sharing her legacy of courage, skill, honor, and truth.