Traditional Chinese Medical Methods of Treatment of Smallpox and Measles


This work was compiled by Wan Quan (1495–1580), a famed physician of the Ming dynasty. A native of Luotian, Hubei Province, Wan Quan came from a family of physicians. His works, such as one on Su wen (Basic questions), followed the schools of Zhang Zhongjing, Liu Hejian, Li Dongyuan and Zhu Danxi, the four great physicians of the Jin and Yuan dynasties (1115–1368). At least ten works are known to have been written by Wan Quan. His subjects cover a wide range of topics, including fevers, maintenance of good health, and women’s illnesses. He was best known for treating children’s diseases and smallpox, which are covered in this work. Among the extant earlier editions of the work is this copy, issued in 1601 by Qin Dakui. It contains Wan Quan’s preface dated 1549 and two other prefaces, one written for the reprinted edition by Cao Jixiao (dated 1585), and one by Qin Dakui. At the end of the work are attached two of Wan Quan’s other works, Dou zhen ge zhi yao lun (Research on smallpox and measles) in 11 juan, and Dou zhen sui jin fu (Brief studies in verse on smallpox and measles) in two juan. The work presented here discusses in detail the causes of smallpox, the symptoms, and treatments. At the beginning, Wan states that the purpose of this work is to point out the differences between the treatments recommended by two Song-dynasty physicians, Qian Yi (circa 1032–1113) and Chen Wenzhong, about which later physicians were divided. For example, Qian Yi preferred cold treatment while Chen Wenzhong preferred warm. The work goes on to introduce the principles of treatments provided by Wan Quan’s father, Wan Kuang, and the application of Qian Yi’s and Chen Wenzhong’s methods at appropriate times. The text is in verse form. According to Wan Quan, smallpox in children originated from the parents and was contagious. He measured the severity of the smallpox based on his observations of the positions, shape, color, and density of the pox, and provided prescriptions accordingly. The work lists 43 guidelines for smallpox treatment, care of worsening cases, and the preparation of prescriptions that readers could easily apply.

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12 juan, 6 volumes ; 20.7 x 14.9 centimeters


  • Only prefaces, table of contents, and juan 1 are included in the WDL presentation.

Last updated: March 5, 2014