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Zhang Zhongjing

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-07-29

Zhang Zhongjing
[Photo from chinadaily.com.cn]
Zhang Zhongjing was born in Nieyang of Nan County (now Rangdong Town in Deng County,HenanProvince; or another saying,Nanyang City,HenanProvince) of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). It is said that he was once conferred an honorary title by the court and worked as the satrap ofChangsha. Zhang Zhongjing was fond of medical science since childhood,and learned medicine from Zhang Bozu in the same county when he was young. After many years of hard learning and clinical practice,he won high prestige and became an outstanding medical scientist in China.

In the last years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, a prevalent pestilence claimed the lives of thousands. According to records, from the first year of the Jian'an reign (196), two thirds of people died of infectious diseases in just one decade, of which febrile diseases caused by cold accounted for 70 percent.

Zhang Zhongjing diligently learned from the bookInternal Canon of Medicine,and collected prescriptions extensively. As a result, he wrote the monumental work,Treatise on Febrile Diseases Caused by Cold and Miscellaneous Diseases. The principle of treatment according to syndrome differentiation established in the book is the basic rule of clinical medicine ofChina, and the soul of traditional Chinese medicine. In the study of prescriptions,Treatise on Febrile Diseases Caused by Cold and Miscellaneous Diseasesmade a great contribution, too: it has created numerous types of recipes, and recorded many effective recipes. The principle of treatment according to the six channels, established in the book,has been highly regarded by doctors of all ages. It is the first monographic medicine works inChinathat established the principle of treatment according to syndrome differentiation from theory to practice. It is one of the most influential works in the history of Chinese medicine. Thus, it has become a fundamental textbook for medical study in later generations, and been highly valued by both medical students and clinical doctors.

There is such a paragraph in the book that reads, "In terms of the high level, medicine is for curing nobles of their diseases; in terms of the lower level, it is used to save the poor from disaster; in terms of the middle level, it is used to keep us in good health." This shows the kind-heartedness of Zhongjing as a great doctor, so later generations grant him the honorific title: "Saint in Medicine".

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