Canonical Formula Equivalencies and Dr. Tian Heming’s Practice of the Perfect Conclusion

Understanding Zhang Zhongjing’s Concept of the Treatment of Similar Diseases with Dissimilar Formulas as Organized by Interior-Exterior, Hot-Cold, Excess-Deficient, and Qi-Water-Blood Classifications

The Shanghan Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage) and Jingui Yaolue (Essentials of the Golden Cabinet) were authored by Zhang Zhongjing in the Eastern Han dynasty (circa 200 CE). It is the forefather book of all herbal formulas in Chinese medicine and outlines the practice of clinical Chinese herbal medicine in its purest and most effective form.

The herbal prescriptions of the Shanghan Lun and Jingui Yaolue are highly modular in structure and show great mutual affinity on the level of formula architecture. This affinity is often referred to as Formula Families or Formula Categories and is mostly based on structure and ingredients. The concept of Formula Families often explains the treatment of different diseases with highly similar or related formulas. Dr. Versluys has often lectured on this aspect of the canonical prescriptions. However, the model of Formula Equivalency instructs on the treatment of identical if not highly similar diseases or clinical presentations, with architecturally very different formulas.

The concept of Formula Equivalency was implicitly introduced by Zhang Zhongjing himself in Shanghan Lun lines 69 and 82; 91 and 92; 42 and 225, etc. In the Jingui Yaolue, the concept was even explicitly documented in the discourse on Zhishi Xiebai Guizhi Tang and Renshen Tang; and Fuling Xingren Gancao Tang and Ju Zhi Jiang Tang in chapter 9; as well as Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang and Shenqi Wan in chapter 12. Further there are many implicit instances.

For this seminar, Dr. Versluys has organized all the equivalent formulas of Zhang Zhongjing along the aforementioned classifications of Interior-Exterior, Hot-Cold, Excess-Deficient, Functional-Material, and Qi-Water-Blood. The study of such organization will shed new light on previously known formulas and solve clinical problems when a certain formula is not producing results in clinic, allowing the practitioner to gain insight in which other prescription is clinically equivalent, essentially treating the same illness, but from a different angle of approach, be it more functional versus material, supplementing versus moving, etc, all while staying within the framework of Zhang Zhongjing’s canonical prescriptions.

The seminar presents the next level of insight into the canonical formulas for the already serious Chinese herbalist with a background in classical prescriptions.