Qin Bowei Anthology Book

A Qin Bowei Anthology 

translated by Charles Chace with Zhang Ting Liang
Paradigm Publications 1996

Qin Bowei is a modern legend in Chinese acupuncture. Born at the turn of the century he went on to found and defend Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Shanghai and Beijing Traditional Chinese Medical Universities. He was known as a brilliant clinician, teacher, administrator and writer.

The Qin Bowei Anthology is a collection of some of his writings. This is exciting material. Of special interest are the few case studies at the end of the book. These put all the concepts together into a coherent clinical context. Qin Bowei was unique in his ability to bridge the gap between pre-TCM and the modern world that TCM now inhabits. Just as Qin’s work has been invaluable in China, this is the type of material that will advance TCM in the English-speaking world.

Chapters include:
Discussion of Liver Disease
Discussion on the Use of Medicinals in Prescriptions
Chinese Medical Therapy for Abating Fever
Cough from External Contraction
A Brief Discussion on the Question of Supplementation
A Preliminary Inquiry into the Life Gate
Case Notes on Understanding Water Swelling Illnesses
Qin Bowei’s Case Histories

Obviously Mr. Chace knows what the current concerns are of American acupuncturists. The 80 pages on liver illness are especially important when so many of our patients are diagnosed with liver qi stagnation. Qin breaks down liver illness into liver vacuity, liver qi (pathological counterflow), liver depression, liver fire, liver heat, liver yang, liver wind, liver cold, liver reversal, liver repletion (excess), liver accumulation, liver fixity, liver distension, liver water and liver impediment.

In the section on Liver Yang Qin writes, “In general, the nature of liver yang is closely connected with heat and is fundamentally a vacuity (deficiency) pattern. This may be clarified by the recognition that the above statement specifically relates to a vacuity of liver yang presenting as intimidation, headache and numbness, and lack of warmth in the four extremities. Therefore it is said that its nature is intimately related to heat. So is this, or is this not, a contradiction? It is not. A liver yang pattern also implies a blood vacuity and internal heat with yang rising. The vacuity here is not in the liver yang itself.

There is much to ponder and study here. My reservations about the book would center on the dryness of the translations. As well, terms pop up such as “wind depression”. Does anyone know what this is? Also there is liberal use of the words “liver qi” to describe “an excessive strength in the liver viscus that produces pathological symptoms”. I suppose it is admirable that certain translators adhere to the standards of Nigel Wiseman’s “English-Chinese-Chinese-English Dictionary of Chinese Medicine” however it should be evident that this seldom seen volume is not the standard for most clinical practitioners.

There also is a particular editing problem in that Charles Chace has added his own comments to clarify sections. I liked this very much. However, it is never clear when the text reverts back to the original writing. This is a rather minor point that only slightly detracts from a very valuable and readable book.

Reviewed by Douglas Eisenstark L.Ac