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A Prelimary Summary on Studying the Shanghan Lun - Part One

by Enqin Zhang

History of the Shanghan Lun

The Shanghan Lun, most often translated as “Treatise on Febrile Diseases Caused by Cold”, is originally a part of the text “Shanghan Za Bing Lun”, usually translated as “Treatise on Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases”, which was written by the physician Zhang Ji (Zhang Zhongjing) in the East Han Dynasty.

Though Zhang Zhongjing is extremely well known in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and considered as one of the finest TCM doctors in Chinese history, very little is known about his private life. According to some later sources, Zhang Zhongjing was born in Nie-yang, today known as Nanyang, in Henan Province, China. During his time, warlords were fighting for territories, which left many people infected and dying from febrile diseases. His family were not exempt and this could possibly be one reason for him deciding to study TCM.

Zhang Zhongjing studied TCM from his own hometown’s doctor Zhang Bozu. Later he held an official position – Taishou of Changsha (the governor of Changsha) in HunanProvinceand lived approximately 150-219 AD. The exact dates of his birth and death vary from source to source; however, an upper limit of 220AD is generally accepted by most scholars today. It is also said that he was the father-in-law of Dr. Hua Tuo (?-208 AD), another outstanding TCM surgeon in the latter period of the East Han Dynasty.

Zhang Zhongjing studied previous TCM classical literature and collected many effective herbal prescriptions which lead to him finally writing his masterpiece Shanghan Zabing Lun. Unfortunately, shortly after it was published, his book was lost during wartime. Zhang Zhongjing masterpieces were later collected by subsequent generations, re-arranged by Wang Shuhe in the Jin Dynasty and then separated by the Bureau for Collation of Medical Books of the Song Dynasty (1065) into two books, with one titled Shanghan Lun “Treatise on Febrile Diseases Caused by Cold” and the other, Jin Kui Yao Lue “Synopsis of Prescriptions of the Golden Chamber”.

We can understand that the Shanghan Lun and Jin Kui Yao Lue were from one and the same book and were by the same author. Therefore, when we learn the Shanghan Lun, we also need to study Jin Kui Yao Lue at the same time.

Contributions of the Shanghan Lun to TCM


As I mentioned above, Zhang Zhongjing made a thorough study of TCM classics such as Su Wen “Plain Questions”, Zhenjing “Canon of Acupuncture”, Nanjing “Classic on Medical Problems” and other important texts of the time. He extensively collected many useful herbal prescriptions and finally createda new TCM theory, diagnostic and therapeutic principle; Bian Zheng Shi Zhi - the diagnosis and treatment according to syndrome differentiation, including Six Meridian Syndrome Differentiation and the diagnosis and treatment of febrile diseases based on analysing and differentiating stages and syndromes. Six-Meridian Syndrome Differentiation is also the embryo of Eight Principle Syndrome Differentiation, Zang-Fu Syndrome Differentiation and Meridian Syndrome Differentiation.

Shanghan Lun is the first classical book in TCM which deals with mechanism, therapeutic principles and methods, prescriptions and herbs. Therapeutic principles and methods are extensively explained in the Shanghan Lun, including eight therapeutic methods such as diaphoresis, emetic method, harmonising, purgative therapy, heat clearing, warming method, tonifying therapy and resolving therapy as well as external therapy, acupuncture, moxibustion, combination of herbal prescription and acupuncture, etc.

In the Shanghan Lun, there are 398 clauses/sections, with 113 herbal formulae (only 112 in fact, as among them is one named ‘Yu Yu Liang Wan, which exists only in name). Additionally,in Jin Kui Yao Lue, there are 25 Chapters with 262 herbal formulae, as some of which are the same as those introduced in the Shanghan Lun. Therefore, the number of formulae from both texts is 269 in all. These texts are regarded as the earliest ancestor of all the other texts on herbal formulae. Clinically, most of herbal formulae from Shanghan Zabing Lun are very effective and still extensively used by TCM doctors in the world today. For example; Mahuang Tang/ Ephedra Decoction, Guizhi Tang/Cinnamon Twig Decoction, Xiao Qinglong Tang/Minor Green Dragon Decoction, Xiao Chaihu Tang/Minor Bupleurum Decoction, Baihu Tang/White Tiger Decoction, Chengqi Tang/Bowels-purging Decoctions, Sini Tang/Decoction for Resuscitation, Wumei Wan/Black Plum Pill, etc. In Japan, only the herbal formulae from the Shanghan Zabing Lun are officially recognized by the authorities and are sold in herbal shops under the name Kan Po (Chinese herbal formulae).

Main Patterns and Chief Formulas of Six Meridian Diseases

Zhang Zhongjing classified all signs and symptoms, stages and special conditions during febrile diseases into six groups known as the Six Meridian Diseases. This includes Taiyang Disease, Yangming Disease, Shaoyang Disease, Taiyin Disease, Shaoyin Disease and Jueyin Disease. All discussions on febrile diseases are based on the Six Meridian Diseases. The main patterns and chief formulas of Six Meridian Diseases are summarised below.

Taiyang Disease

Taiyang (Great Yang) Disease is a mild stage occurring in the initial period of a febrile disease. It manifests as chills, fever, stiff neck, floating pulse, without sweating (termed Taiyang Shanghan) or with sweating (termed Taiyang Zhongfeng). The therapeutic principles and chief formulas include: induce sweating (MahuangTang/Ephedra Decoction for Taiyang Shanghan); or regulating Ying and Wei (Guizhi Tang/Cinnamon Twig Decoction for Taiyang Zhongfeng).

Chief Formulas for Taiyang Disease


Mahuang Tang/Ephedra Decoction



  • Mahuang/Herba Ephedrae (with joints removed) 3 Liang/6g, Notes: you may choose Xiangru/Elscholtzi, Mosla/Herba Elscholtziae seu Moslae 9g instead of Mahuang/Ephedra.
  • Guizhi/Ramulus Cinnamomi 2 Liang/4g
  • Zhigancao/Radix Glycyrrhizae Praeparatae 1 Liang/4g
  • Xingren/Semen Armeniacae Amarum (with its skin removed) 70 pcs/9g

Note: Today’s dosages of all formulas in this article are made according to the conversion table shown in the appendix, as well as from my own experience.

Administration: Decoct Mahuang in water (9 Sheng=198.1mlx9) in a pot over a small flame until 2 Sheng (198.1mlx2) of water is reduced. Remove the foam (containing more ephedrine) floating on the water surface and then add the other herbs. Boil until the decoction is reduced to 2.5 Sheng=198.1mlx2.5. Drink 8 Ge (19.81mlx8) of the decoction when it is warm, if necessary 2-3 times a day. After drinking the decoction, ask the patient to stay in a warm bed to induce a slight perspiration.

Actions: Induce sweating to relieve the exterior syndrome and assists the lung’s descending function to relieve coughing and asthma.

Explanation: Mahuang dispels pathogenic wind-cold from the exterior by inducing sweating. It relieves asthma and acts as a principle herb in the formula. In some western countries where the herb is banned, TCM practitioners can choose Xiangru or Mosla instead. Guizhi acts as an assistant herb and also dispels pathogenic wind-cold. The combination of Mahuang or Xiangru or Mosla and Guizhi has a strong diaphoretic function. Xingren brings down the abnormal ascending of the lung-qi, and helps Mahuang to ease coughing and asthma as an adjuvant herb. Zhigancao can reinforce the middles-jiao, replenish qi as well as harmonise all the other herbs in the formula.

Indications in the original Shanghan Lun text


Clause 35: Taiyang Disease with headache, fever, body aches, lumbago, arthralgia, aversion to wind, no perspiration, and asthma, can be treated by Mahuang Tang. The indications of Mahuang Tang can also be seen in Clauses 36, 37, 46, 51, 52, 55, 232 and 235.

Modern clinical applications

1. From my own experience, I have used Mahuang Tang to treat common colds, influenza and upper respiratory tract infections with marked fever, aversion to cold, no sweating, body aches, cough or asthma, floating and a tense pulse. I achieved a satisfactory result in most of my patients. For more information, please refer to “New Research in Prescriptions of TCM”.

2. Dr Huang Hai proposed that Mahuang Tang can be used “for asthma and cough of wind-cold excess syndrome caused by upper respiratory tract infection, pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma”; and also for “arthralgia-syndrome of cold-wind, mainly at the early stage and characterized by fever, aversion to cold, no perspiration, body aches, and floating-tense pulse”; see the text “Introduction to Treatise on Exogenous Febrile Diseases”.

3. Dr Liu Huimin, a very famous TCM doctor in Shandong Province, China, once treated the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong who suffered from a common cold but could not recover from it. He used modified Mahuang. Mr. Mao recovered in a very short time.

Modern research:

1) Modern researches have proved that Mahuang can excite sweat glands in the thenar of hamsters.

2) Volatile oil of Mahuang can inhibit activities of influenza virus (AR8) that may be a base to treat influenza.

3) Dr Xi Ze Fang Nan (Nishi Zawa Yoshi O) found Mahuang Tang can inhibit histamine released by basophilic cells and mast cell during an allergic reaction.

For more information, please refer to the text “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

Guizhi Tang/Cinnamon Twig Decoction


  • Guizhi/Ramulus Cinnamomi 3 Liang/9g
  • Shaoyao/Radix Paeoniae 3Liang/9g
  • Zhigancao/Radix Glycyrrhizae Praeparatae 2Liang/6g
  • Shengjiang/Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens 3 Liang/9g
  • Dazao/Fructus Ziziphi Jujubae 12 mei/pcs

Administration: All the herbs should be added to about 7 Sheng (198.1ml x 7) of water in a pot over a low flame until the water is reduced to 3 Sheng (198.1ml x 3). Remove the herbs and drink 1/3 of the decoction warm.


1) After taking the above decoction, eat 1 Sheng (198.1ml or more) of porridge to assist the decoction for better efficacy.

2) Keep covered up for one or two hours to aid perspiration; a light perspiration is suitable. If the sweat is too watery, it will have a negative effect on the treatment.

3) If the syndrome is cured, stop taking the rest of the decoction. If it is not cured, take it again as before. If after taking it twice there is no effect, the decoction can be taken a third time within a half day.

4) For serious cases, take the decoction day and night. If the disease is not cured after taking one dose, take again, even two or three doses.

5) Whilst taking the decoction, avoid raw, cold, greasy food and foods that can irritant and have a special and unfavourable smell. In addiction, alcohol, milk and its by-products should be avoided.

Actions: Harmonizing the ying and wei to relieve the exterior (Taiyang Zhongfeng syndrome).

Explanation: Of the ingredients in the above formula, Guizhi is pungent and sweet in flavour and warm in nature. It acts as a principle herb to relieve exterior syndrome by expelling pathogenic wind and cold from muscles and skin. Shaoyao is sour, bitter and slightly cold and is used as an assistant herb to replenish yin to astringe ying. The combination of Guizhi and Shaoyao root results in the double roles of both being a diaphoretic and astringent in order to harmonise the ying and wei, which means that it induces sweating without the impairment of yin and arrests sweating without interfering with the expelling of pathogens. As Shengjiang possesses pungent and warm properties, it cannot only aid Guizhi in expelling pathogens from the muscles and skin, but also warm the stomach and arrest vomiting. Dazao is sweet and has mild properties. It is used as a tonic for the stomach and blood in order to supplement the qi, reinforce the middle-jiao, nourish yin and tonify blood. It is combined with Shengjiang as an adjuvant herb to harmonise ying and wei. Zhigancao is a guiding herb and is used to tonify the middle-jiao and replenish qi and to coordinate all the herbs in the formula.

Indications in the original Shanghan Lun text

Clause 12: Zhongfeng syndrome of Taiyang Disease is characterized by a floating pulse at yang and a weak pulse at yin (floating pulse signifies fever whilst a weak pulse signifies spontaneous perspiration), aversion to cold and wind, fever, stuffy nose and nausea. It can be effectively treated by Guizhi Tang.

Clause 13: Taiyang disease, marked by headache, fever, sweating, and aversion to cold, can be effectively treated by Guizhi Tang.


Besides Clauses 12 and 13 there are other clauses including 15, 24, 42, 44, 45, 53, 54, 56, 57 ,91, 95, 164, 234, 240, 372, 387 and also in Chapter 21 on Pulse, Syndrome and Treatment of Postpartum Diseases within Jin Kui Yao Lue.

Modern clinical application

1) From my own experiences I have used Guizhi Tang for the treatment of common colds, influenza, urticaria, eczema, neuralgia and myalgia characterized by fever, aversion to wind with perspiration, floating-moderate pulse and spontaneous perspiration due to disharmony between Ying and Wei. It is very effective. For more information, please refer to “New Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

2) Dr Guan Youbo, a very famous TCM specialist in China, reported that Guizhi Tang plus Shigao 20g, Huangbai 15g, Cangzhu 15g, and Yinchen 20g, is very effective for rheumatoid arthritis. For more information, please refer to “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

3) Dr Qu Sheng stated that Guizhi Tang plus Huangqi and Muli is very good at treating spontaneous perspirationand night sweating. For more information, please refer to “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

4) Dr Zhao Jinghua reported that Guizhi Tang plus Cangpu 6g and Yujin 6g, is effective for somnolence/sleepiness day and night. After 3 bags, the patient felt better, after 15 bags, the patient made a full recovery. For more information, please refer to “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

Modern research

Modern researches have proved that Guizhi Tang posses the effects of inducing sweating, reducing fever, removing phlegm, relieving convulsions and pain, promoting digestion and absorption, nourishing the body and consolidating the constitution. For more information, please refer to “A Practical English-Chinese Library of TCM”.


Yangming Disease

Yangming (Yang Brightness) Disease is a more severe stage occurring in the middle period during a febrile disease, marked by internal excessive yang/heat syndromes, which manifests as high fever without chills (Yangming Jing/Meridian Syndrome) or marked by distension in the abdomen and constipation (Yangming-fu/organ’s syndromes). The therapeutic principles and formulas: cooling (Bai Hu Tang/White Tiger Decoction for Yangming-jing-Meridian Syndrome), and eliminating (Tiaowei Chengqi Tang/Stomach-regulating Decoctions for Yangming-fu syndrome marked by dryness-heat in the stomach and intestine, Xiao Chengqi Tang/Minor Bowels-purging Decoction for mild cases of Yangming-fu syndrome and Da Chengqi Tang/Major Bowels-purging Decoction for Yangming-fu syndrome marked by excessive heat and constipation.

Chief Formulas for Yangming Disease

Baihu Tang/White Tiger Decoction



  • Shigao/Gypsum Fibrosum (ground) 1Jin/30g
  • Zhimu/Rhizoma Anemarrhenae 6Liang/ 15g
  • Zhigancao/Radix Glycyrrhizae Praeparatae 2Liang/6g
  • Jingmi/Semen Oryzae Nonglutionosae 6 He/9 g

Administration: Decoct all the herbs in water until the rice is well done. Take 1/3 of the decoction warm 3 times a day.

Actions: Clears away heat from the Yangming meridian and promotes the production of body fluids.

Explanation: Shigao is pungent and sweet in flavour and extremely cold in nature. It acts as a principle herb and is effective for excessive heat in the Yangming meridian. Zhimu is bitter in taste and cold/moist in nature. It serves as an assistant herb for strengthening the action of the principle herb. Zhigancao and Jingmi function as an adjuvant and guiding herb. They cannot only reinforce the function of the stomach and protect the body fluids, but also prevent the middle-jiao from being injured by bitter and cold herbs.

Indications in the original Shanghan Lun text

Clause 176: Baihu Tang suits the type of febrile disease with a floating–slippery pulse that is caused by heat in the exterior and interior.

Clause 219: In syndromes involving three yang meridians simultaneously, there are symptoms and signs of abdominal distension, a heavy feeling in movement, difficulty in turning round, a lack of taste, dusty face, delirium and incontinence. When there is spontaneous sweating, Baihu Tang can be prescribed. If diaphoresis is adopted, the patient will suffer delirium. If a purgative is given, sweating on the forehead and coldness in the extremities will occur.

Note: Although the above syndrome involving 3 yang meridians simultaneously is mentioned in the clause, according to the signs and symptoms, it can still be diagnosed as excessive heat in the Yangming meridian. Abdominal distension, a heavy feeling when moving and difficulty in turning round are due to excessive heat in the Yangming meridian with a disorder of the meridian-qi. Alack of taste means excessive heat in the stomach. A dry face with spontaneous sweating is caused by evaporation of excessive heat. Delirium and incontinence of urine reflects excessive heat misting the mind.

Clause 350: In a heat syndrome characterised by a slippery pulse and coldness in the extremities. Baihu Tang can be adopted.

Note: This is a severe case of heat-jue of Yangming meridian syndrome. The patient might have a high fever, parched mouth and tongue, thirst for cold drinks, yellowish urine, red tongue with yellowish fur, rapid pulse, etc.

Modern clinical application:

1) For encephalitis B, and epidemic meningitis marked by high fever, profuse perspiration, a great thirst, full forceful pulse, Baihu Tang should be combined with western medicine at the same time.

2) For sunstroke, heat stroke and infantile summer fever marked by symptoms of excessive heat in the Yangming meridian, Baihu Tang is effective.

3) For upper respiratory tract infection, influenza, pneumonia and septicaemia marked by Yangming meridian syndrome, use Baihu Tang.

4) For rheumatic fever, rheumatic arthritis and infective arthritis (heat bi syndrome), apply Baihu Tang with additional ingredients, such as Guizhi, Cangzhu, Huangbai, etc.

5) I have used modified Baihu Tang for patients with diabetes marked with great thirst. I have found this formula to be effective with most of these patients. For more information, please refer to “New Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

For all the above, please refer to the text “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

Modern research

Modern research has proved that Baihu Tang has the efficacies of allaying fever, tranquilising the mind, subduing inflammation, quenching thirst as well as lowering blood sugar levels. For more information, please refer to “Prescriptions of TCM”, a part of 14 books –“A Practical English-Chinese Library of TCM”, page 98.

Da Chengqi Tang/Major Bowels-purging Decoction


  • Dahuang/Radix et Rhizoma Rhei, 4 Liang/9g
  • Houpu/Cortex magnoliae Officinalis, Half Jin/9g
  • Zhishi/Fructus Aurantii Immaturus, 5 Pcs/9g
  • Mangxiao/Natrii Sulphas, 3 Ge/3g

Note: 1 Jin=16 Liang in the Han Dynasty=222.72g today; 1 Ge in the Han Dynasty=19.81ml today. Today’s dosages of the above herbs are made according to my own experience.

Administration: According to the original Shanghan Lun text and my own experience, Zhishi and Houpu should be decocted first for about 20 minutes, then add Dahuang and boil for a further 5-10 minutes. Then add Mangxiao, which is infused in the decoction. Take half of the decoction orally. However, if diarrhoea occurs, do not drink the other half of the decoction.

Actions: Expelling heat and loosing the bowels and promoting the circulation of qi to purge accumulation from the bowels.

Explanation: Dahuang is bitter in flavour and cold in nature. It acts as a principle herb to treat the main symptoms by removing and purging pathogenic heat and fire, accumulation of food and stools in the stomach and intestines and relieving constipation. Mangxiao is salty in flavour and cold in nature. It possesses the effects of moistening dryness, softening hard masses and purging heat. It is used in combination with Dahuang and serves as an assistant herb to reinforce Dahuang’s purgative effects. Both Houpu and Zhishi can promote the circulation of qi and relieve distension, as well as help Dahuang and Mangxiao in purging the accumulation of food and stools in the stomach and intestines. It also acts as a guiding herb.

Indications in the original Shanghan Lun text


Clause 220: In syndromes that involve Taiyang and Yangming successively, when the Taiyang disease is gone and the patient has tidal fever, slight perspiration over their hands and feet, constipation and delirium, a dose of Da Chengqi Tang can be adopted to eliminate the syndrome.

Note: Tidal fever is a characteristic fever type of Yangming-fu-syndrome. A slight perspiration over hands and feet is caused by evaporation of excessive stomach heat. Constipation is a sign of formation of stercoroma. Delirium results from excessive heat misting the mind (Shen).


Clause 212: In cases when a febrile disease has not disappeared after the adoption of an emetic or a purgative and there are no stools for 5-6 days, or even more than 10 days, with a tide fever in the afternoon but no chills and the patient speaks to himself as if he sees ghosts and has subconscious hand movements with him touching his clothes and bed use Da Chengqi Tang. In serious cases, the patient may become unconscious to people around him. He is in terror and also has a slight dyspnoea and staring eyes. A tight pulse will indicate a curable case, while a hesitant pulse is the sign of a fatal case.In a less serious case with only fever delirium,Da Chengqi Tang can be adopted as a curative. If the first dose induces defecation, stop taking the rest of the decoction.

Note: This is a severe case of Yangming-fu-syndrome and its prognosis manifests as:

1) Serious constipation for 5-6 days, or even more than 10 days,

2) Tide fever in the afternoon,

3) Delirium and coma, marked by speaking to himself as if he sees ghosts, unconscious of people around him and subconscious hand movements touching his clothes and bed,

4) Starting eyesight (light reaction disappearance), and

5) A slight dyspnoea.

Clause 241: After the adoption of a drastic purgative, the patient has no stools for 6-7 days, restlessness and abdominal distension and pain, it can be diagnosed that there must be stercoroma, which was caused by indigestion. Use Da Chengqi Tang in such cases.


1) After the adoption of a drastic purgative, the syndrome should have been eliminated. But if the patient has no stools for 6-7 days, and is restless with abdominal distension and pain, it is due to the intermingling of remaining pathogenic heat and indigestion.

2) In the Shanghan Lun, there are other clauses 208, 209, 212, 215, 217, 220, 238, 239, 240, 242, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 321, 322 that discuss Da Chengqi Tang. In addition, within Jin Kui Yao Lue in chapters 2, 10 (4 clauses), 10 (2 clauses), 17 (4 clauses), 21 (2 clauses) there are discussions on Da Chengqi Tang.

Modern clinical application

1) I often use Da Chengqi Tang for febrile diseases marked by excessive-heat syndrome of Yangming-fu organ, manifested as constipation, frequent flatulence, feeling of fullness in the abdomen, abdominal pain with tenderness and guarding, tidal fever, delirium, polyhidrosis (sweating) of the hands and feet, prickled tongue with yellow dry fur, or dry black tongue coating with fissures and a deep and forceful pulse.

2) It can also be used for syndromes of faecal impaction due to heat with water discharge, manifested as watery discharge of terribly foul odour accompanied by abdominal distension and pain with tenderness and guarding, dry mouth and tongue, smooth and forceful pulse.

3) The formula can be modified to deal with infectious or non-infectious febrile diseases in their climax marked by the accumulation of heat and in the treatment of paralytic and simple intestinal obstruction.

4) Some doctors use Da Chengqi Tang for the treatment of coma due to cerebral bleeding. They believe that Da Chengqi Tang has the function to draw blood downward from the brain to the lower part of the body.

For all of the above, please refer to “New Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

Modern research

1) Modern researches have ascertained that this formula has the functions of relieving inflammation, resisting bacteria, promoting blood circulation to the intestines, stimulating intestinal peristalsis, purging the stools, tranquilising the mind, bring down fever, etc. For more information, please refer to “A Practical English-Chinese Library of TCM”.

2) According to an animal test, Da Chengqi Tang can directly act on the smooth muscle in the intestines to relieve constipation. For more information, please refer to “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.

3) Da Chengqi Tang has been shown in tests to can help the intestines of rabbits with introsusception to return to normal function. For more information, please refer to “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”.



Enqin Zhang (Engin Can) graduated from Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in 1982 with a post-graduate dip. and Master of Medicine. Afterwards, he received his M.D. and Professorship from four international Chinese universities and institutes. He was chief editor & author of the text “Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM”, published by Yellow River Press in July, 1989 as well as the TCM series ‘A Practical English-Chinese Library of TCM’, composed of 14 volumes, published by Shanghai TCM University Press in 1990. He now lecturers and practices at the Asante Academy of Chinese Medicine for Middlesex University, London, UK. Correspondence:



Enqin Zhang. (1990). A Practical English-Chinese Library of TCM. Shanghai TCM University Press.

Enqin Zhang. (1989). Research in Classical Prescriptions of TCM. Yellow River Press.

Huang Hai. (2005). Introduction to Treatise on Exogenous Febrile Disease, Shanghai TCM University Press.

Ruan Jiyuan & Zhang Guangji. (2003). Chinese–English Textbook-Synopsis of Prescriptions of the Golden Chamber. Shanghai Science & Technology Press.


Appendix A – Conversion table for converting the dosage used in the Eastern Han Dynasty into today’s dosage (Zhang 1989).

The Eastern Han Dynasty

(25-220 AD)

The Present Day:

1 Zhu


1 Liang(=24 Zhu)


1 Jin (=16 Liang)


1 Fangcunbi

3.125g for herbs, 6.2g for minerals

1 Qianbi (a heaped coin’s worth)

2.0g for herbs, 4.0g for minerals

1 Ge (Ten spoons’ worth)


1 Sheng (=10 Ge)


1 Dou (=10 Sheng)


1 Chi



1. In the East Han Dynasty, the weights and measures for herbal medicine in the terms of “zhu”, “liang” and “jin” are accounted as half of the official measurements at the time.

2. Commonly used and Simplified Conversion: 1 Liang in the Han Dynasty=1 Qian/ 3g today

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