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Three Case Histories on Cold Damage Disorders from Ninety Discussions on Cold Damage Disorders by Xu Shuwei (1080–1154)

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The translations below, the first three case histories taken from a collection of ninety cases, are a fine example of a physician’s testimony about his own clinical practice dating from the twelfth century. Xu Shuwei 許叔微 (1080–1154), a Song dynasty physician and a scholar-official, compiled this collection of cases in a book titled Ninety Discussions on Cold Damage Disorders (Shanghan jiushi lun 傷寒九十論). Xu lived during the late Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) and the early decades of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1276). He represents a new type of physician that, in addition to their medical practice, also passed the civil service examination and often served as scholar-officials in bureaucratic positions. Xu lived in an era of a changing political, social, and medical environment; these changes shaped his perception of medicine and his medical practice as is evident in some of his cases. Xu was a prolific writer and compiler authoring about ten book titles; however, only four of his texts have survived to the present.1 Three of Xu’s surviving books focus on one genre of medical literature, namely Cold Damage disorders. Losing his parents to seasonal epidemics when he was a child compelled Xu Shuwei to study medicine and attempt to familiarize his peers with its doctrines and practices. In this respect, the renowned Qing dynasty doctor Xu Bin 徐彬 (fl. late 17th cent.) sums up Xu Shuwei’s standing among those who studied Cold Damage disorders saying that, ‘from antiquity among the sages of Cold Damage [tradition] only Zhang Zhongjing [stands out]. Of those who promoted and honored [Zhang] Zhongjing and interpreted [his work], just Xu Shuwei was the best’.2

Affiliations: 1: Tel Aviv


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1. Mingyi lei’an名醫類案 Guan Jiang江瓘 Zhibuzu zhai congshu知不足齋叢書 Classified Cases of Famous Doctors 1957 Beijing Renming weisheng chubanshe preface dated 1549, first published 1591. Reprint of
2. Puji ben shi fang普濟本事方 Xu Shuwei許叔微 Original Formulary of for Popular Relief 2006Vol 1132 Beijing Zhongguo zhongyiyao chubanshe Reprint in the series Tang Song Jin Yuan mingyi quanshu dacheng
3. Shanghan jiushi lun傷寒九十論 Xu Shuwei許叔微 Ninety Discussions on Cold Damage 2006Vol 1132 Beijing Zhongguo zhongyiyao chubanshe Reprint in the series, Tang Song Jin Yuan mingyi quanshu dacheng
4. Zhizhai shulu jieti直齋書錄解題 Chen Zhensun陳振孫 Critical Remarks on the Catalogue of Straightforward Studio 1968 Taibei Shangwu yinshu guan 1190–1249 Reprint
5. Chen Kezheng陳克正 Songdai mingyi Xu Shuwei 宋代名醫許叔微 (The Famous Song Physician Xu Shuwei) 1989 Beijing Zhongguo kexue jishu chubanshe
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7. Farquhar J. Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounters of Chinese Medicine 1994 Boulder, CO Westview Press Inc.
8. Furth C. Furth, Zeitlin, Hsiung"‘Introduction: Thinking with Cases’" 2007 1 27
9. Furth C. Furth, Zeitlin, Hsiung"‘Producing Medical Knowledge through Cases History, Evidence, and Action’" 2007b 125 151
10. Furth C., Zeitlin J. T., Hsiung P. Thinking with Cases: Specialist Knowledge in Chinese Cultural History 2007 Honolulu University of Hawai’i Press
11. Goldschmidt A."‘The Song Discontinuity: Rapid Innovation in Northern Song Dynasty Medicine’" Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 2005Vol 1 1 53 90
12. Goldschmidt A. The Evolution of Medicine in China: The Song Dynasty, 960–1200 2009 London RoutledgeCurzon Press Needham Research Institution Series
13. Goldschmidt A. Elman Benjamin"“Reasoning with Cases—The Transmission of Clinical Medical Knowledge in Twelfth-Century Song China.”" Antiquarianism, Language, and Medical Philology: From Early Modern to Modern Sino-Japanese Medical Discourses 2015 Brill 19 51 Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series
14. Grant J. A Chinese Physician: Wang Ji and the Stone Mountain Medical Case Histories 2003 London RoutledgeCurzon
15. Hsiung P. Furth, Zeitlin, Hsiung"‘Facts in the Tale: Case Records and Pediatric Medicine in Late Imperial China’" 2007 152 168
16. Hsu E. Innovation in Chinese Medicine 2001 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
17. Hsu E. Pulse Diagnosis in Early Chinese Medicine: The Telling Touch 2010 Cambridge Cambridge University Press
18. Hucker C. O. A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China 1985 Stanford, CA Stanford University Press
19. Liu Jingchao劉景超, Li Jushuang李具雙 The Complete Medical Works of Xu Shuwei (Xu Shuwei yixue quanshu 許叔微醫學全書) 2006 Beijing Zhongguo zhongyiyao chubanshu
20. Mitchell C., Ye Feng, Wiseman N. Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage): Translation and Commentaries 1999 Brookline, MA Paradigm Publications
21. Shi Qi施杞, Xiao Mincai蕭敏材 Zhongyi bing’an xue 中醫病案學 (The Study of Medical Cases in Chinese Medicine) 1994 Shanghai Zhongguo dabaike quanshu chubanshe Bing’an xue quanshu 病案學全書 (Compendium on the Study of Medical Cases
22. Sivin N. Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China 1987 Ann Arbor Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan Science, Medicine, & Technology in East Asia Series 2
23. Tamba no Mototane丹波元胤 Zhongguo yiji kao 中國醫籍考 (Studies of Chinese Medical Books) 1983 [1819] Beijing Renmin weisheng chubanshe Reprint
24. Yu Bohai于伯海, et al Shanghan jinkui wenbing mingzhu jicheng 伤寒金匮温病名著集成 (Collected Famous Works on Cold Damage, Golden Casket, and Febrile Disorders) 1997 Beijing Huaxia chubanshe

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