Qin Bo-Wei's 56 Treatment Methods: Writing Precise Prescriptions

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An excellent clinical manual, this book primarily teaches a method of thinking that serves as a foundation for a lifelong approach to herbal medicine. An understanding of how to use the core concepts presented here allows one to effectively treat the majority of diseases seen in the contemporary clinic. The text itself is unique in its presentation and differs from other clinical manuals in a number of ways:

Organized by treatment method. Teaches a way of emulating the thought underlying a prescription without being tied to its specified ingredients or original indications, thereby reflecting the thinking of Chinese medicine's greatest clinicians. Ultimately, this approach opens up treatment possibilities that are often ignored in conventional textbooks.

Small number of ingredients. Dr. Qin's prescriptions contain a small number of precisely combined ingredients, administered in small doses.

Explains how to use processed medicinals. The book provides detailed explanations about how to use processed medicinals.

Based on influential lineage. This text imparts a wealth of clinical knowledge rooted in the tradition of an influential Chinese medicine lineage.

In 2007 Jason Blalack asked his teacher Wu Bo-Ping what he thought was the most important medical text to translate into English? Wu chose the original 1953 edition of Guidelines for Treatment written by his teacher Qin Bo-Wei, which forms the basis of this latest publication by Eastland Press. Qin Bo-Wei (1901-1970) was famous for his clinical skills and an author of over fifty books. His pragmatic approach to clinical practice was not restricted to any one school or style, and he was renowned for synthesising complex and often contradictory theories into clear systematic ideas. Qin was critical of the direction TCM took under Mao Ze-Dong - in which Chinese medicine was integrated into the Western medical model - and believed that Chinese medicine should be rooted in the Chinese medical classics. Based upon his extensive clinical experience and detailed knowledge of these classics Qin synthesised the most important ideas from the history of Chinese medicine into 56 core treatment methods, each with key diagnostic criteria and an associated seven-ingredient formula with modifications. These 56 methods were based in part on the 113 methods of treatment taught to Qin Bo-Wei by Ding Gan-Ren, an influential early 20th century physician who was part of the Menghe current.

The key difference between this book and modern TCM clinical manuals is that rather than being organised by bianbing disease category or symptoms, this book is arranged by treatment method. These methods are based on classical formulas, and the emphasis is on understanding the thinking behind the prescription, so that the practitioner is able to prescribe without being tied down to specific ingredients and indications. Although Qin's prescriptions are modified from classical formulas they are extremely precise in terms of their construction and dosage, and show a detailed understanding of materia medica, herb combining and pao zhi. Qin's style of prescribing is typical of the Menghe current and is characterised by a small number of ingredients, small dosages and mild medicinals with pao zhi to moderate harsher or more cloying herbs.

The organisation of the book via treatment methods works well, and retains the layout of the original text. Qin's original text is terse, but is here illuminated by Wu's commentary and a question-and-answer-style dialogue with Jason Blalack. The commentary discusses how formulas are constructed and modified and provides a detailed and precise understanding of pathological processes and treatment methods drawn from many different currents of Chinese Medicine. This synthesis and flexible approach to clinical practice is apparent throughout the book, particularly in the discussion on wind, where Wu points out that for mild presentations the typical 'textbook' distinction between wind-heat and wind-cold can be hard to distinguish, and in such cases combining the two to induce a light therapeutic sweat is the appropriate strategy. If heat or cold are more distinct only then should stronger medicinals or a different treatment method be used. The precision inherent in Qin's treatment methods is exemplified in the chapter on qi disorders and the discussion of the different approaches to treating Liver-Spleen disharmonies – which range from patterns of pure excess to deficiency and include multiple secondary patterns (such as heat and dampness). The commentary emphasises that such categories can be somewhat artificial, and that no category can truly reflect the subtle nuances of clinical reality - 'one must see this as a continuum of possibilities where one picks the appropriate treatment principles to match the specific person at a specific time'.

This book is not merely a translation of a textbook of formulas and modifications - it teaches the precise, logical, yet flexible way of thinking characteristic of Qin and Wu's approach to clinical practice. This approach facilitates a deeper understanding of pathology and diagnosis and enables the practitioner to write precise, individualised prescriptions with the treatment method at their core. It will appeal to experienced practitioners as well as practitioners who wish to move away from prescribing unmodified formulas based on diseases and rigid patterns, and focus more on treating the individual and thus improving clinical results. The book is also constitutes a counterbalance to the jing fang (classical formula) current that emphasises fixed patterns and formulas that has become popular in the West. The book is also a tribute to Wu Bo-Ping, who with nearly 50 years of clinical experience and international teaching until recently maintained a busy private practice in Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province) where students from all over the world observed him in clinical practice and benefited not only from his excellent clinical skills but also his openness and willingness to teach and share his knowledge and experience.

Simon Plant

More Information
Author Wu Bo-Ping & Jason Blalack
Publication Date 1 Jan 1970
Publisher Eastland Press
Number of Pages 384
Book Format Softback
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