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張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing: The Medical Sage

During the Eastern Han dynasty between about 150 and 219 AD lived a famous Chinese Herbologist and Physician named 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing. This legendary man is considered to be one of the finest physicians in history and his written works are considered to be canons.

Even as a young boy, 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing was interested in medical science. After vigorously studying and practicing the healing arts for many years, 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing became an outstanding medical professional with high prestige.

Medical Diagnosis

One of his incredible strengths was the art of medical diagnosis. 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing once met a scholar who he concluded was ill by simply observing the young man’s complexion. He advised the young scholar to seek medical assistance and suggested that he took a specific decoction. Both recommendations were ignored by the young man.

張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing warned the man that if he did not act right away, his eyebrows and beard would fall out when he turned forty years old, and he would die soon after that. Upon their next meeting 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing asked the young man whether he had followed his advice? The young scholar replied, “yes”. The doctor could see in the young man’s complexion that he had not done what was prescribed to him.

“Why do you neglect your own health?!” – Dr. Zhongjing pleaded. The words still had no effect on the young scholar.
Just like 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing warned, the scholar’s eyebrows and beard began to fall out when he turned forty years old and he died six months later.

Febrile Disease & The Shang Han Za Bing Lun

Another prominent achievement attributed to 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing is the recognition and treatment of infectious diseases, specifically febrile disease.

In the last years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, a widespread epidemic claimed many lives, most of which were lost to febrile disease. As a result, 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing closely studied the origins and progression of the disease and worked to identify treatment protocols and herbal prescriptions. All of this extensive research lead to the creation of his most monumental work called Shang Han Za Bing Lun (On Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Diseases).

The publication contains over 269 prescriptions. Nearly 25% of the herbal formulas created by 張仲景 Zhang Zhongjing almost two thousand years ago are still taught in herbology courses in Traditional Chinese Medicine schools worldwide today and many are used in everyday clinical practice.

Did you know?

餃子 Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings) are believed to have been invented by Zhang Zhongjing in the Han Dynasty.  He would hide the herbal medicine in food!   Po from Kung Fu Panda would have been a very healthy and astute student of Zhang Zhongjing 😉. 

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