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钱乙 Qian Yi: Sage of Pediatrics

The Song Empire (960 to 1279 A.D.) of ancient China is considered to be one of the most advanced time periods and flourished in economics, science, culture, technology, mathematics, engineering, and military strength.

This dynasty birthed a great number of outstanding scholars, poets, architects, generals and physicians during its Golden Age.

The legendary physician 钱乙 Qian Yi, also known as The Sage of Pediatrics, has had an incomparable contribution to Chinese Medicine that has spanned across centuries.

钱乙 Qian Yi's Origin Story

钱乙 Qian Yi was related to the King of Wuyue, a kingdom founded during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of Chinese history.
He was born around 1032 in Qiantang, Zhejiang province and later moved to Yunzhou (known as Shandong province today).

钱乙 Qian Yi lost his mother at the age of three. Driven by his addiction to alcohol and travel, the boy’s father, a physician by trade, abandoned his family not long after. 钱乙 Qian Yi was raised by his aunt and uncle, also a medical doctor, who agreed to teach and train his nephew in the art and science of medicine.

钱乙 Qian Yi showed himself as a hardworking and avid learner. He immersed himself in study, did long-term clinical practice, accumulated a wealth of experience and quickly became a renowned pediatrician. He was one of the earliest and most famous Chinese pediatric specialists, though he treated people of all ages in his practice.

His father’s disappearance haunted him for many years. One day he chose to stop everything and go look for him. After years of searching 钱乙 Qian Yi finally tracked down his father and convinced him to return home. 钱乙 Qian Yi treated his father with tenderness and care until the day he passed away, inspiring scholars who have heard of this story and marveled at such filial piety to compose poetry about it.

The Emperor's Son

钱乙 Qian Yi was revered for his immense knowledge, incredible medical skills, sincerity and integrity. He was even awarded “Scholar of the Imperial Academy” by the Emperor and promoted as an Imperial Medical Officer. Members of the imperial family, high officials, nobility, and common people all competed for 钱乙 Qian Yi’s expertise.

When the Emperor’s son suffered from convulsions and after imperial physicians failed to cure his condition, 钱乙 Qian Yi was called. He quickly and successfully healed the patient with a special herbal decoction. After the Emperor praised 钱乙 Qian Yi, he asked him how he managed to cure his son. 钱乙 Qian Yi’s answer was: “If earth dominates water, water will be calmed; liver wood can be balanced and symptoms of wind syndrome will be naturally stopped. Moreover, I just happened to treat the disease when it was almost going to heal because of the previous treatments by the other doctors.”

Pediatrics is one of the oldest specialties in Chinese medicine and dates back approximately two thousand years. However, physicians did not always like to work with children and used to say: “I would rather treat ten men than one woman.” and “I would rather treat ten women than one child.”
钱乙 Qian Yi was the first physician to write books and articles solely devoted to pediatrics.

The Chinese Classic 小儿药证直诀 Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue

The Chinese Classic 小儿药证直诀 Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue (Key To Therapeutics of Children’s Diseases) was written by 钱乙 Qian Yi and put together by a student of his and published in 1119 after his death.  It covers syndrome identification and treatment of diseases in infants and young children and consists of three parts.  

“Part I is about diagnosis of children’s diseases and their recommended treatments. There are 81 articles covering a wide range of clinical patterns. Part II reports 23 case studies and provides an invaluable record of the clinical practices at that time. Part III contains over one hundred medicinal formulas for use in various treatment plans.”

六味地黃湯 Liu Wei Di Huang (Six Ingredient Decoction with Rehmannian), an herbal decoction created by 钱乙 Qian Yi, is one of the most famous and important Chinese patent medicines and is widely used in Eastern Asia today.

In 1113 at the age of 81 钱乙 Qian Yi passed away. Stories circulated in the community how the medical practice of a revered physician 钱乙 Qian Yi who cured many cases in his life was eulogized and cherished by the people.

Here at Si Jin Bao we honor 钱乙 Qian Yi by sharing his story and carrying on the legacy of his famous decoctions such as 六味地黃湯 Liu Wei Di Huang Tang in our own Herbacy.

謝謝你們分享你的智慧錢毅。Thank you for sharing your wisdom 钱乙 Qian Yi 🙏🏽.


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