Three Case Histories on Cold Damage Disorders from Ninety Discussions on Cold Damage Disorders by Xu Shuwei (1080-1154)

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The translations below, the first three case histories taken from a collection of ninety cases, are a fine example of a physician's testimony about his own clinical practice dating from the twelfth century. Xu Shuwei (1080-1154), a Song dynasty physician and a scholar-official, compiled this collection of cases in a book titled Ninety Discussions on Cold Damage Disorders (Shanghan jiushi lun). Xu lived during the late Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) and the early decades of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1276). He represents a new type of physician that, in addition to their medical practice, also passed the civil service examination and often served as scholar-officials in bureaucratic positions. Xu lived in an era of a changing political, social, and medical environment; these changes shaped his perception of medicine and his medical practice as is evident in some of his cases. Xu was a prolific writer and compiler authoring about ten book titles; however, only four of his texts have survived to the present.1 Three of Xu's surviving books focus on one genre of medical literature, namely Cold Damage disorders. Losing his parents to seasonal epidemics when he was a child compelled Xu Shuwei to study medicine and attempt to familiarize his peers with its doctrines and practices. In this respect, the renowned Qing dynasty doctor Xu Bin (fl. late 17th cent.) sums up Xu Shuwei's standing among those who studied Cold. Damage disorders saying that, 'from antiquity among the sages of Cold Damage [tradition] only Zhang Zhongjing [stands out]. Of those who promoted and honored [Zhang] Zhongjing and interpreted [his work], just Xu Shuwei was the best'.2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-471
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Chinese medicine
  • Cold Damage
  • Song dynasty
  • medical cases
  • scholar-official physician


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