Friday, October 9, 2015

1281-1348: Xi defines asthma for China

InZhu Dan Xi (1281-1348)
The next person to make a significant impact on the "flow" of asthma wisdom through Ancient China was InZhu Dan Xi (also known as Zhu Zhenheng). 

He lived from 1281-1348 A.D, and was born to a medical family.  He believed his family received poor medical care when he was young, and therefore became determined to learn about medicine.  (1)

He believed over indulgence depleted the essence of yin and caused chronic diseases.  His most significant recommendation was temperance. (2)

He continued to describe diseases as an imbalance of the humors as was described in the Nei Ching some 2,000 years earlier, and as described in Ancient Egypt and Western Civilizations.

Xi is often regarded as the first Chinese physician to provide a modern description of asthma. He combined chuan and Xiao to come up with chuan xiao, which many historians believe is similar to the Western world's description of asthma. (3, page 41)

From this time on Chinese physicians believed Chuan xiao was caused by an imbalance of yin and yang, which are polar opposites, and "obstruction to the flow of Qi by phlegm in the airways, said asthma historian Mark Jackson.

Ma Huang continued to be a common therapy for the treatment of any respiratory ailments along with "Qi supporting" liquorice and gypsum decoction, "Yin syndrome asthma was treated with Yin Returning elixer."  (3, page 41)

Since Ma Huang was a much better bronchodilator than any western treatment for asthma, Chinese asthmatics had it at least a little better off than their contemporaries in the rest of the world, or so one might imagine.

  1. Beijing Medical Museum of TCM
  2. "Chu Tan-chi [Zhu Danxi/Zhu Zhenheng; 1280-1358 A.D.," Chinese Medicine History,
  3. Jackson, Mark, "Asthma: The Biography," 1998, New York, page 41
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