The Shang Han Lun has been a primary treatment theory and practice source for nearly two millenia. Its author, Zhang Zhong Jing, has been named the “Chinese Hippocrates” to highlight the depth and breadth of his contribution to traditional Chinese drug therapy. This edition features the Chinese text, Pinyin transliteration, and an English translation of the entire Song Dynasty text, the content and textual order most used in Asia. Just as in Chinese language editions, it is fully supplemented with notes and commentaries. The notes describe the clinical symptoms Zhang Zhong Jing associated with the Chinese terms. For example, modern interpretations of a “moderate” pulse often refer to the speed of its beats. The same term, when used in the Shang Han Lun, refers to a pulse that is loose, soft, and harmonious. Such notes provide practitioners with the clinical observations necessary to properly apply the information.
The commentaries further enhance the text’s clinical utility by explaining the theoretical and practical foundations behind the lines of text. Because entire bodies of theory and practice can be associated with the terms and expressions used in cannonical works like the Shang Han Lun, commentaries have become a standard means of knowledge acquisition for Asian students.
The commentaries in this edition serve exactly the same purpose, greatly enhancing its utility. The introductory matter explains the background of the text, the conceptual structure of its contents, and the problems of exegesis. The appendices are designed to assist those studying Chinese and the glossary and the full Pinyin-English index make this an easily accessed reference.
In a broad sense, cold disease refers to all exogenous diseases. In ancient times, it was believed that there were three major causes responsible for various diseases, namely external causes (such as pathogenic wind, cold, summer-heat, dampness, dryness and fire), internal causes (such as improper diet, physical exhaustion and emotional changes) and non-internal and non-external causes (such as wound due to fighting and bite by insects and animals). Nan Jing (Canon on Eighty-One Difficult Issues) says that there are five kinds of cold diseases, namely Zhongfeng 中风 (wind stroke), Shang han 伤寒 (cold attack), Shi wen 湿温(dampness warmth), Re bing 热病 (febrile disease) and Wen bing 温病 (warm disease).
Shang Han Za Bing Lun (Treatise on Cold Diseases and Miscellaneous Diseases) was compiled by Zhang Zhongjing (about 150-219) in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. This book deals with two kinds of diseases. In dealing with exogenous disease (cold disease), it differentiates the duration and nature of the disease according to three yang and three yin (tai yang, yang ming, shao yang, tai yin, shao yin and jue yin). It has developed specific therapeutic principle and prescriptions for each type of disease. Take tai yang disease with symptoms of fever, aversion to cold and headache for example. If there is no sweating, it can be treated by The Prescription of Mahuang Tang; if there is sweating, it should be treated by The Prescription of Guizhi Tang. In some cases both prescriptions can be used together. If the patient is weak, Ren shen can be added. If the disease is exogenous, but there is no fever, the pulse is weak and the patient is sleepy, it is shao yin disease, it can only be treated by Ren shen and Fu zi to rescue from collapse by restoring yang.
Shang Han Za Bing Lun (Treatise on Cold Diseases and Miscellaneous Diseases) was lost in history due to war. The part about cold disease was collected by Wang Shuhe, an imperial doctor in the Western Jin Dynasty, and known as Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Diseases). Since it covers the theory, therapeutic principles and prescriptions for the treatment of exogenous diseases, it was and is still of great importance in medicine. The part about miscellaneous diseases in the original book was later on compiled into another book known as Jin Kui Yao Lue (Synopsis of Golden Cabinet).