Case Number 43

  • Asaf Goldschmidt
Part of the Archimedes book series (ARIM, volume 54)


In this case the patient is a pregnant female from Xu’s village. Xu provides a very brief list of symptoms, and cites three contradictory diagnoses by three doctors. One claims that the patient has “foot qi” (jiaoqi). On this diagnosis see Hilary Smith’s pioneering work on the topic (2008b and 2017). Xu own diagnosis lists both the manifestation type and the disorder name, which corresponds to edema during pregnancy, and suggests diuresis. This diagnosis compels one of the other doctors to assert that his own diagnosis was correct, and he lists three appropriate drugs. At this point the case takes an interesting turn. Xu declines the use of drugs altogether and suggests needling at two acu-points. It should be noted that during the Song dynasty, in spite of the publication of Wang Weiyi’s 王惟一 Illustrated Canon Explaining Acu-moxa Therapy Using the Bronze Figure and its Acu-points (Tongren yuxue zhenjiu tujing 銅人腧穴針灸圖經) in 1026 that standardized the location of the acu-points, physicians rarely relied only on needling, moxibustion, or bleeding. In other words, Xu is using a non-standard practice. This may be a literary tool Xu was using to lead to his answer, but we do not know for certain. The reply of the other physician is also noticeable since he requests to know the origin of Xu’s treatment indicating that authoritative literature was part of the debate. Xu’s claim that this treatment originates from the Canon of the Golden Casket and Jade Cases (Jinkui yuhan jing 金匱玉函經) is also surprising, since rarely cites this canon.


Other Sources:

  1. Bensky, Dan, Steven Clavey, and Erich Stöger. 2004. Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia medica. 3rd ed. Seattle: Eastland Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ma, Jixing 马继兴. 1990. Zhongyyi wenxian xue 中医文献学 [A Study of Chinese Medical Literature]. Shanghai: Shanghai kexue jishu chubanshe.Google Scholar
  3. ——— 1974. Chugoku isho honzo ko 中國醫書本草考 [Studies of Chinese books on medicine and materia medica]. Osaka: Maeda Shoten 前田書店.Google Scholar
  4. Smith, Hilary A. 2008a. “Understanding the Jiaoqi Experience: The Medical Approach to Illness in Seventh-Century China.” Asia Major Third Series, 21, no. 1:273–292.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2008b. Foot Qi: History of a Chinese Medical Disorder.” Ph.D. dissertation, Department of History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2017. Forgotten Disease: Illness Transformed in Chinese Medicine (Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asaf Goldschmidt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of East Asian StudiesTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Visiting ProfessorRenmin University of ChinaBeijingChina

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