王冰(Wáng Bīng):introduction about his biography and legend,main books and academic thoughts.

TCM Knowledge:Prominent Ancient Herbalists ✵王冰(Wáng Bīng): an ancient physician who was specializing in the art of healing and health preservation, who spent twelve years rearranging and revising the Su Wen(the Plain Questions), one of the two-component parts of Nei Jing(Huangdi's Internal Classic), into 24 volumes, with notes, commentaries, and supplements.

王冰(Wáng Bīng).

Brief Introduction
漢語名(Chinese Name): 王冰(Wáng Bīng)Alias: 啟元子(Qǐ Yuánzǐ)
Popular name: 啟玄子(Qǐ Xuánzǐ)English Name: Wang Bing, or Bing Wang(Given/Sur Name)
Hometown: UnknownDates: about 710~805, or around year 690~805 A.D.
Main works: 《補養方》(Bu Yang Fang) 3 volumes,《必效方》(Bi Xiao Fang) 3 volumes,《黃帝內經·素問》(Huang Di Nei Jing·Su Wen),《玄珠》(Xuan Zhu),《昭明隱旨》(Zhao Ming Yin Zhi) 3 volumes,《素問六氣玄珠密語》(Su Wen Liu Qi Xuan Zhu Mi Yu) 10 volumes,《天元玉册》(Tian Yuan Yu Ce) 30 volumes,《元和紀用經》(Yuan He Ji Yong Jing) 1 volume, etc.
Representative works: 《重廣補註黃帝內經素問》(Chong Guang Bu Zhu Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen),《素問六氣玄珠密語》(Su Wen Liu Qi Xuan Zhu Mi Yu)

Biography and legends:

 Portrait of Wáng Bīng 王冰(Wáng Bīng): an ancient physician who was specializing in the art of healing and health preservation, who spent twelve years rearranging and revising the Su Wen(the Plain Questions), one of the two-component parts of Nei Jing(Huangdi's Internal Classic), into 24 volumes, with notes, commentaries, and supplements.

 王冰(Wáng Bīng)'s alias is 啟玄子(Qi Xuanzi), his alias was also recorded as 啟元子(Qi Yuanzi) in the 17th century, his birth year was recorded as around Jing Yun 1st year(710 A.D.), passed away at ZhenYuan 20th year(about year 805 A.D.), according to some historical records and study, he was a child during the Wu Zhou period of the Tang Dynasty(year 690~705 A.D.), he was around 20 years age at year 711 A.D., so his real birth year was possibly around year 690 A.D., his native county was not known, he was assigned as an official titled "Taipu Ling" during the year 762~763, so he was also known as Wang Taipu.

 Wang Bing is a person with character peaceful mind, pure heart and few desires, fond of health-preserving method and searching for various health maintenance crafts, also good in the study with Taoism, ever followed with famous herbalist 孟詵(Mèng Shēn) for health-preserving methods, Meng Shen was excellent in treatment and alchemy, and he was a disciple of herbalist 孫思邈(Sūn Sīmiǎo), who inherited the true teachings from Sun including the crafts of Yin Yang, calendars deduction and treatment, he ever wrote book 《補養方》(Bu Yang Fang, or Recipes for Tonics) in 3 volumes, and 《必效方》(Bi Xiao Fang, or the Surely Effective Prescriptions) in 3 volumes. Followed with Meng Shen for several years, Wang Bing learned the essence and miracle crafts of ancient herbalism and also affected by Taoism.

 When he aged 20, Wang Bing heard that a strange and eccentric herbalist 玄珠(Xuán Zhū) got a copy of Huang Di Nei Jing·Su Wen, but he lived in some Taoist temple, with great talent, Wang Bing decided to visit him and seek a teaching, with guidance from some related person, Wang Bing came to the Taoist temple where Xuán Zhū stayed, he was ever traveling around four seas and treat folks in his early age, lived in solitude in his late to study theory in-depth and write medicine books. Xuan Zhu laid some strict criteria for disciple selection, Wang Bing was required to learn well and practice with the basic guide of “Principles and Sincerity of Master Herbalist” (these requests were given by herbalist Sun Simiao in his classics Qian Jin Yao Fang(the Invaluable Prescriptions)), and also should be familiar with basic knowledge from previous books Nei Jing(the Inner Canon), Nan Jing(the Difficult Classic), Jia Yi Jing(the Systematized Canon of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), Ben Cao(the Herbal Canon of Shen Nong), Jing Fang, and also should study with basic crafts and academics related with Yin-Yang and Five Elements, and should be a herbalist with morality opinion and ethics.

 Wang Bing was fond of health nourishing, wish to be immortal and return with sky land and all things, join the follower admirer of Taoism, and his own few desire-belief also was consistent with those Taoism opinions "Wú Wéi(letting things take their own course)", "Wú Yù(desire-lessness, indifferent to fame or benefit)". So worship Taoism and fond of crafts is the main pursuit in his life.

Main books and academic thoughts:

 Wang Bing was fond of Yi-ology and Taoism at his young age, he paid attention to medicine study, especially hobby in book Huang Di Nei Jing, ever “inherited a secret classic copy from ancestor teacher Zhang Gong at the place of his teacher Guo Yuzhai.”, herbalist Wang Bing gave supplements and notes to the ancient classics since year TianBao 9th years(year 750 A.D.) till Bao Ying 1st year(year 762 A.D.), totally 12 years, finally edited and compiled the book Su Wen(Plain Questions of the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor) in 24 volumes, and a total of 81 articles, the original classic copy Wang Bing got lost the 7th volume, he added with the volume which collected in some old copy(these 7 great treatises were edited in the published copy from the 19th volume to the 22nd), finally he combined and re-edited the book into 24 volumes, which made devotions for the reservation and spread of this precious ancient literature. The legend noted that herbalist Wang Bing ever wrote other books, such as 《玄珠》(Xuan Zhu), which was lost in the Song Dynasty. The book 《素問六氣玄珠密語》(Su Wen Liu Qi Xuan Zhu Mi Yu) 10 volumes(or 17 volumes), was an ancient book from herbalist Wang Bing, its main content is composed of the study about the Seven Articles of Great Treatise, and mainly about the doctrine on Yun Qi(the doctrine of five evolutive phases and six climatic factors). The book 《天元玉册》(Tian Yuan Yu Ce) in 30 volumes, was an ancient book already known in the epoch of herbalist Wang Bing, its main content is also about the doctrine of Yun Qi(the doctrine of five evolutive phases and six climatic factors), Wang Bing also used it as one reference, but he was not its author. The book 《元和紀用經》(Yuan He Ji Yong Jing) in 1 volume, might appear during the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, or appear since the Song Dynasty, it was a book forged its authorship to herbalist Wang Bing for his fame, and its author actually was not herbalist Wang Bing. Some modern complete book of herbalist Wang Bing still collect Tian Yuan Yu Ce and Yuan He Ji Yong Jing in its edition for respect.

 Su Wen, Plain Questions About his compilation of the book Su Wen(the Plain Questions), according to legends and records, herbalist Wang Bing got the secret copy Su Wen(the Plain Questions) from ancestor teacher Zhang Gong, and compare proofread with the copy 《內經訓解》(Nei Jing Xun Jie) which was written by previous herbalist 全元起(Quán Yuánqǐ, his birth year was unknown, might live during the Qi and Liang of South Dynasty epoch), with careful study and combine reference to his own academic thoughts and experience, Wang Bing applied methods include title combination, contents differentiation, shift chapter, supplements etc, re-edit and re-compile the book Su Wen(the Plain Questions), and with specific methods like fill, error correction, delete extra sentence, embroidery, systemly and completely emendate, interpretation, notes and elaborate the classic copy, and complete it at year 762 A.D., the final copy was titled as 《次註素問》(Ci Zhu Su Wen), also named 《重廣補註黃帝內經素問》(Chong Guang Bu Zhu Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen), totally 24 volumes and 81 articles. Due to his seriousness and strict academic attitude, hardworking detecting research and style, the ancient book 《黃帝內經素問》(Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen) possibly survived and was reserved. The printing technique applied characters cut in intaglio and characters cut in relief to differ in the block printing, the compilation and supplement of Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen by Wang Bing, had a crucial contribution in the history of Chinese medicine. This classical copy of Su Wen(the Plain Questions) edited by him was referred to by later herbalists as a blueprint. Some opinion and creative ideas of medicine from herbalist Wang Bing, still has important values for reference and study. His academic opinion mainly represented in the supplement notes of Su Wen(the Plain Questions). With his compilations, this new edition of Su Wen(the Plain Questions) is theoretically composed of contents in such an order: healthy preservation (chapters 1~5), Yin Yang and Five Elements (chapters 3~7), the doctrine of Viscera (chapters 8~11), diagnostic method (chapters 12~21), condition of disease, symptoms and signs (pathogenesis, diseases, chapters 21~49), meridians channels and collaterals, acupoint (including diagnosis and treatment, chapters 50~65), five movements and six climates (chapters 66~74), practice(chapters 75~81).

 Wang Bing had an in-depth study with the Qi directing practice, the theory in details was recorded as supplements and notes in the Seven Articles of Great Treatise, it was traced and respected as the essence and basis of YunQi theory of later generations. Combined with his rich knowledge of medicine, Wang Bing made the book Su Wen(the Plain Questions) easier and smooth for understanding, those articles he added in, which were titled "Tian Yuan Ji Da Lun, Wu Yun Xin Da Lun, Wu Chang Zheng Da Lun, Liu Wei Zhi Da Lun, Liu Yuan Zheng Ji Da Lun, Qi Jiao Bian Da Lun, Zhi Zhen Yao Da Lun", these articles represents the main essence of the doctrine on YunQi(the doctrine of five evolutive phases and six climatic factors). These articles under the title of the Great Treatise gave detailed and in-depth interpretations of the related questions, include an in-depth interpretation of the question about mutual rooting of Yin-Yang. According to the theory recorded in the article Su Wen·Si Qi Tiao Shen Da Lun: “Cultivate Yang in spring and summer, cultivate Yin in autumn and winter, to follow their roots”, his interpretation is very simple, clear, and to the point, got real essence from the book Nei Jing(the Inner Canon,or the Huangdi's Internal Classic), the interpretation has guiding significance for clinical practice.

 When discussing and propose the distribution and metabolism of water and body fluid, Wang Bing mentioned the important effects and functions of the lung and spleen viscera, and especially emphasize the functions of the lung, spleen, and kidney on the distribution and metabolism of water. His theory that "The Chong meridian is the blood sea, the Ren meridian main for the fetus, support each other, so have offsprings." was followed by later generation herbalists.

 Another Portrait of Wáng Bīng Wang Bing gave interpretations of pathogenic theory, and he summarized etiology and pathogenesis of the various disease as four kinds, as "1st. It forms endogenously due to the Qi movement; 2nd. It forms exogenously not due to the Qi movement; 3rd. It affects endogenously due to the Qi movement in the initial stage; 4th. It affects exogenously not due to Qi movement.". The concept "Qi Dong”(Qi movement) mentioned by herbalist Wang Bing, means the turmoil or turn chaotic conditions of visceral-qi, and he classified the pathogenesis into 2 categories, one from Qi-movement, one not from Qi-movement, and further differentiate exogenous pathogenic factor or internal disorder. This kind of classification method combines pathogenesis with etiology, different from the three-factory theory, and praised by later herbalists Zhang Yuansu and Zhang Congzheng. Furthermore, for the pathogenesis of exogenous febrile disease fever, asthenic disease, Wang Bing hold a specific opinion too. The chapter Su Wen·Zhi Zhen Yao Da Lun recorded that: "watch on the pathogenesis discreetly, recognizing what every symptom or sign are attributed to, seek the truth among listed pathogenic reasons and other reasons, seek the root cause from excess or deficiency, identify the principles of the five elements, free the condition of Qi and blood, regulate to a balanced state, and as a result, lead to peace and harmonization.", he gave very high praise and also wrote notes more than 300 words, repeatedly emphasis to detect the pathogenesis through phenomena and various symptoms, gave a further interpretation of the pathogenesis analysis method.

 Wang Bing gave a specific discussion of therapeutic method and rules, and proposed treatment should be based on real pathogenesis, and based on Yin-Yang, clearly identify and differentiate deficiency and excess of Yin-Yang, Water-Fire, and proposed that to treat deficiency of kidney-YANG, one should refer to the principle "benefit the source of fire, to eliminate Yin shade.", to treat deficiency of kidney-YIN, one should refer to the principle "strong the source of water, to regulate the Yang.". These incisive expositions got the attention of all later generation herbalists and founded a basis for the formation of the life-gate theory. About the question of routine treatment and counteracting treatment, he also gave a detailed analysis and pointed out that "the straight treatment of serious cases, actually are counteracting treatment". And he used fire as a metaphor to analyze the treatment method: "for the treatment of serious disease, better treat straight with its nature", and his discussion was the origin of later treatment method and principle under the brief title "guide fire return to its origin", which has guiding essence for clinical practice. On other aspects, for the treatment of five types of depression, Wang Bing gave differentiation on the five types of depression, applied different methods include emesis, diaphoresis, eliminating wetness, etc, which make the treatment method from Su Wen(the Plain Questions) clear and exact, later herbalists seek reference from the method of Wang Bing for depression treatment, gradually the treatment of depression formed a theory doctrine in the TCM theory system with clinical value.

 Herbalist Wang Bing hold his specific opinion on some questions of the TCM theory. For example, when he gave explain and interpretation of the proposal about the routine treatment(orthodox treatment) and contrary treatment(retrograde treatment) recorded in Su Wen(the Plain Questions), discussed 2 concepts about fire, Ren Huo(the Man-Fire) and Long Huo(the Dragon-Fire), these are metaphoric descriptions, as he explained: “The case in a mild state, similar to Ren Huo(the Man-Fire), it is lit when met grass, it's burning when met wood, dampness could control it, water could put it out, thus should attack it reversely against its nature and Qi. The case in a severe state is similar to Long Huo(the Dragon-Fire), it's flaming when met dampness, it's burning when met water, if the nature is not recognized, then treat it with water, as a result, flaming up to the sky and will stop until everything is burned, if the nature is recognized, treat it with abnormal theory, attack it with fire, and the burning will slow down itself, the flames will diminish." Wang Bing hold a viewpoint that Ren-Huo(the Man-Fire) and Long-Huo(the Dragon-Fire) are two different fire with completely different natures. The first is common heat, its nature belongs to Yang-heat and may hurt the Yin-fluid, can use herbs with cooling characters for treatment, for example, the liver-fire and red eyes, stomach-fire and toothache, etc, herbs with character clearing discharging stomach fire and liver fire could be selected, like radix Gentiana, rhizoma coptidis, Gypsum, Rheum officinale, etc. But for the dragon-fire, its nature is similar to the Dragon in ancient legend, the Dragon lives in water, when water is accumulated and the Dragon will fly out, thus for this type of fire, those herbs with cooling property not only could not help treatment, on the contrary, may also aid fire to generate more heat, thus Wang Bing hold a treatment viewpoint to exorcize this type of fire with fire.

  • 1.王冰(Wáng Bīng):introduction about his biography and legend,main books and academic thoughts.

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