The Study of Medical Formulas


Presented here is an eight juan edition of Yi fang kao (The study of medical formulas), by Wu Kun (1552‒1620). It was printed by Youyizhai in the 13th year of the Wanli reign (1585) of the Ming dynasty. The original inscription in juan 1 reads: “Written by Wu Kun of Shexian and read by Fang Chuhou from the same county.” As this copy lacks its title page, the information is taken from the following juan, in which the inscription on the cover page mentions that there were two additional juan, with two essays from his other work Mai yu (Study on pulse), one consisting of 13 entries and the other of 50 entries. These were the notes Wu Kun took in the course of studying works on pulse, his annotations, and analyses of those works. His name appears under the title of each juan, as well as the names of the editors and printers. The work has a preface written in 1585 by Wang Daokun (1525‒93), the Ming official and man of letters. Wu Kun, also known as Shanfu and Hegao Shanren, a native of Shexian, Anhui, was a famous Ming physician, medical author, and theorist, and an avid bibliophile. He wrote in his preface that he decided on his medical career at the age of 15. At the time this work was published he had already practiced medicine for 18 years. This is one of Wu Kun’s four major works. During his medical practice, he was grieved by the deficiency in physicians’ knowledge and by how little they knew of current and ancient formulas. He therefore collected and selected from ancient works and records formulas on various specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, diseases of women and children, and emotional diseases. Some 780 formulas were selected and grouped into 24 categories. The 72 types of formulas are grouped by the symptoms experienced by patients: (Juan 1, seven formulas; juan 2, ten formulas; juan 3, ten formulas; juan 4, 17 formulas, juan 5, 20 formulas, and juan 6, eight formulas). Each formula is designated for a symptom, given the cause, onset, and process of an illness, followed by various treatments and formulas of different schools. Each formula is followed by discussion of the diagnosis, cause, onset, and process of an illness; various treatments of different schools; and famous formulas. Each formula is given a name, with information on its composition, functions, compatibility with other medicines, methods of taking, increasing and decreasing dosages, and so forth. These are detailed explanations and analyses. This is a comprehensive and systematic work of prescription, which has had far-reaching influence on many aspects of theory, methodology, formulas, and treatments in Chinese medicine. Although this edition was issued only a year later than the original one, the text differs; the reprint was not produced from the earlier woodblocks.


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醫方考 : 八卷

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8 juan, 12 volumes

Last updated: January 16, 2018