Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The History of Chinese Medicine: Fàng Pì

"When a disease invades the blood level, then retreats to the wei level and lingers before attacking the ying and the jing successively, only to then wander unpredictably throughout the body, it is a sign the pathogen has become confused by Traditional Chinese Medicine terminology and the prognosis is good."

This is only one of the many diagnostic principles outlined by Fàng Pì (280 to 310 A.D.) in his Highly Unusual and Seldom Effective Treatment Principles: A Needle in the Dark.

"When a patient arrives at death's door, he should be asked to pay up front," and many other such treatment principles were outlined during Pì's short career.

Fàng is also known for unique variations on established methods. For centuries the theory of "mother" and "child" organs, such as the liver and heart, stated that in cases of deficiency, strengthen the mother with tonifying herbs. In cases of excess, restrict the son.

"When a disease attacks an attractive female, the principle of drugging the husband should always be applied," Fàng wrote.

Fàng's methods fell into fashion because of their daring novelty. He was soon highly in demand among the wealthy nobility, particularly the wives of preoccupied dignitaries. But most notable was his work as a court doctor to the Emperor.

Fàng had written, "When the heart has been invaded by cold, but there is mist in the lung, heart hail will result. If not treated quickly, the hail Qi will descend to freeze the intestines." When the Emperor himself contracted an embarrassingly severe case of digestive trouble, Fàng Pì was summoned in the hasty effort to recruit experts from the kingdom's top physicians. His case study throws further light on this piece of history.      

"Mr. King, age 39, suffered an extreme case of frozen bowels. Upon initial examination, a sharp icicle, 12 cun in length, was found protruding from his anus. The most urgent course of treatment was reducing: in this case, reducing the practitioner's temptation to make any cracks about it. It looked like a tail." This initial examination was difficult: None but the Emperor's top ministers were permitted to look at the monarch and Fàng was forced to carry out his examination from three houses away.

"The patient was instructed to sit in a pot of boiling water for precisely 65 seconds while facing south," Fàng writes. "Then I told him to eat a snail. Unfortunately, the treatment was not successful." The king was known to posterity as The Standing Emperor.

Fàng Pì traveled extensively after this event leaving behind extensive notes, diagrams and case stories. He eventually met up on his journey with several of the Emperor's chief army officials. Bits of Pì are still being found all over China.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Eric this is brilliant. I actually searched Fang Pi before I realized what tomorrow's date was. Hats off to the Pedo Man!!

percypape said...