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Table of Contents
RESEARCH ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 94-98

On “Pestilences” in an ancient vietnamese medical book, Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》 Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine)


1 Teaching-Research Office of TCM Theories, Institute of Science, Technology and Humanities, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
2 Department of Chinese, College of Humanities, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China

Date of Submission16-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance07-May-2020
Date of Web Publication29-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Li Shang
Institute of Science, Technology and Humanities, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_15_20

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  Abstract 


Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine) is “an ancient Vietnamese medical book in Chinese language” that is extant in Vietnam and plays an important part in Vietnamese medical development history. In the chapter of “Pestilences,” the characteristics, prevention, and treatment of pestilences were described in detail. By comparing Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine with Chinese medical books including Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica), it can be seen that the prevention and treatment of pestilences were profoundly influenced by Chinese medical books. The folk-proven prescriptions in Compendium of Materia Medica, Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (《肘后备急方》Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency), Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang (《备急千金要方》Important Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold for Emergency), and other Chinese medical books were included directly or after adaptation (slight modification in dosage and usage) in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine. This form of “foreign acceptance” witnessed the history of medical culture communication between China and Vietnam, expanded the application scope of Chinese medicine in prevention and treatment of pestilences in a foreign land, promoted the overseas spread of folk-proven prescriptions in Chinese medicine to treat pestilences, and played a major part in treatment and prevention of disease in ancient Vietnam.

Keywords: Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine), pestilences, Vietnamese medicine


How to cite this article:
Yang L, Li J, Shang L. On “Pestilences” in an ancient vietnamese medical book, Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》 Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine). Chin Med Cult 2020;3:94-8

How to cite this URL:
Yang L, Li J, Shang L. On “Pestilences” in an ancient vietnamese medical book, Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》 Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine). Chin Med Cult [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jul 11];3:94-8. Available from: http://www.cmaconweb.org/text.asp?2020/3/2/94/288532



Vietnamese culture is an important part of the Han Chinese cultural sphere, and Vietnamese medicine is deeply influenced by Chinese medicine. Chinese medical books extant in Vietnam are the “eyes in foreign lands” to Chinese medicine, showcased Chinese medicine in “eyes in foreign lands,” and responded to the development and progress in medicine. Ancient literature on traditional medicine in Vietnam is a valuable source of traditional medicine to be understood urgently.

Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine) [Figure 1] is “an ancient medical book in Chinese language” that is extant in the National Library of Vietnam and Vietnam Han'an Research Institute. It played an important part in Vietnamese medical development history and its formation witnessed the history of medical and cultural communication between China and Vietnam. The chapter of “Pestilences” in Volume 1 described the prevention and treatment of pestilences and made a great contribution to prevention and treatment of such diseases in Vietnam then. Through comparison of the prescriptions for pestilences in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine with those in Chinese medical books, the history of foreign acceptance of Chinese medicine can be better presented to explain the relationship between Chinese medicine and traditional Vietnamese medicine and understand and study the long history of Chinese medicine culture in a broader context.
Figure 1: Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine)

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  Overview of Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine Top


Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine was written by Ruan Bojing (阮伯靖),also known as “Chan master Huijing(慧靖禅师)”), a representative doctor in Chen Dynasty in Vietnam and was an important medical book in the Chinese language supplemented by physicians of later generations. According to Mayanagi Makoto, a Japanese scholar, Chan master Huijing was sent on a mission to China (Ming Dynasty) in 1385 and later died in the country, so it can be inferred that the medical books by Huijing including Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine were written before 1385.[1] However, since printing techniques in China were spread to Vietnam in a later time, the prosperity of Vietnamese engraving and printing occurred in Zhengtong years in Ming Dynasty (明正统) or Li Dynasty in Vietnam (越南黎朝). In addition, as Vietnam is located in the tropics with a damp climate and suffers from damage by insects, ancient books are difficult to preserve and spread.[2] Therefore, the original Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine by Huijing before 1385 has not been found.

According to the analysis on the versions extant in National Library of Vietnam (越南国家图书馆) and Vietnam Han'an Research Institute (越南汉喃研究院), the extant Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine is different from the original work by Huijing before 1385 since it was completed with supplementation by doctors of later generations on the basis of the original book.[3] Despite that the original Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine by Huijing was lost to history, the supplemented version can still embody Huijing's academic ideology of “treatment of Vietnamese with Vietnamese medicine,” Note 1 plays a major part in the construction of Vietnamese medical system and reveals the characteristics of Vietnam-oriented Chinese medicine.

The Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine (No. R18) preserved in the National Library of Vietnam was used in the present study. It is in half pages, 11 lines in each page, and 26 characters in each line. It has the library collection stamp of “THUVIEN/QUOCGIA” (National Library) and the characters of “On an auspicious day in August in the seventh year under the reign of emperor Khai Dinh of the South Empire, newly engraved based on the original book/Miraculous Southern Medicine/1922 in Western calendar/Liuwentang collection for public good” (大南启定七年八月吉日幸遇良医家有原板得新刻/南药神效/西历壹仟玖佰贰拾贰年/柳文堂公益藏板) around the title page. Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine was written in the Chinese language, suggesting the influence of Chinese medical books on etiology, pathogenesis, and syndrome differentiation methods described in this book.[4]

According to the table of contents of Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine, this book included a volume in the header and 10 volumes in the body part [Figure 2], 11 volumes in total. In the body part, there were 10 medical specialties, including “diseases of direct attack” in Volume 1, “qi diseases” in Volume 2, “blood diseases” in Volume 3, “pain disease” in Volume 4, “painless diseases” in Volume 5, “diseases of the orifices of the body” in Volume 6, “internal injury” in Volume 7, “gynaecology” in Volume 8, “paediatrics” in Volume 9, and “surgery” in Volume 10. In Volume 1, diagnosis and treatment of 14 diseases were described, including wind stroke, cold stroke, summer heat stroke, pestilences, and miasma. In the chapter of “Pestilences,” the characteristics, prevention, and treatment of such diseases were described in detail.
Figure 2: Inside Pages of Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine

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  Prevention of Pestilences Top


In the chapter of “Pestilences” in Volume 1 in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine, it wrote that “In a pestilence, everyone in the neighborhood is sick. It is generally a seasonal epidemic, and people get infected due to deficient vital qi. The disease invades the body through respiration. The patients have swelling and reddish head and face, discomfort in throat, dry tongue and mouth, fear of cold and high fever, phlegm-drool congestion and so on. All kinds of pestilences show these symptoms and medicinals hot in property should be used with caution to treat high fever.”[5] It specified the etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment principles of pestilences and believed that pestilences occurred due to deficient vital qi in the human body and seasonal epidemic that invaded the body through respiration, and medicinals hot in property should not be used in the wrong way.

In prevention, nine methods were described in detail in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine to prevent pestilences. For instance, “For patients infected initially, heat their clothes in a steamer,” “Put sesame oil in nostrils and induce sneezing by twisting a paper strip in the nostrils,” “Collect the tender leaves of Siberian cocklebur on the Dragon Boat Festival (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month) from 11 a. m. to 1 p. m., air dry and put aside. In case of infection, grind the dry leaves into a fine powder, mix with water and take the liquid,” “Collect purslane on the sixth day of the sixth lunar month, air dry and put aside. Make congee using the herb on the New Year's Day, flavor with salt and vinegar and serve for the whole family,” “Soak frankincense in water from a well firstly in the early morning, give a piece of frankincense to everyone in the family and take it along with the water,” “Wrap rice beans in a piece of new cloth and soak in well water for 2 days. Everyone in the family take 20 beans,” and “Burn moxa on four corners of the sickbed, one stick per corner” etc.[6] The ways to use drugs for pestilence prevention in the book included oral administration, nasal inhalation, as well as smoking, wearing, and hanging. They were simple and effective methods to prevent pestilences in Vietnam.

Through comparison of Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine of Vietnam with Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》Compendium of Materia Medica) of China in Ming Dynasty, it can be seen that the methods used to prevent pestilences in the former were influenced quite a lot by the latter. The methods described in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine, including using tender leaves of Siberian cocklebur, purslane, frankincense, and rice beans, as well as steaming clothes of the patients and moxibustion, were all recorded in Chinese medical books. For instance, in Volume 38 of Compendium of Materia Medica, it was warned that “In seasonal epidemic, take clothes of the patient initially infected and heat in a steamer. Through doing this, the rest of the family will not be infected.” Compendium of Materia Medica, by quoting Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (《肘后备急方》Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency), wrote that “To ward off prevalent epidemic pathogens, wrap a Dou (2 L) of soy beans in a piece of new cloth, put in a well for a night and remove. Take 7 beans a time.” By quoting Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang (《备急千金要方》Important Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold for Emergency), Compendium of Materia Medica stated that “To prevent pestilences: collect tender leaves of Siberian cocklebur at 11 a. m. to 1 p. m. on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, air dry and put aside. Immediately before using, grind the dry leaves into fine powder, mix two Qian (6.25 g) of the powder with cold water and take the liquid. Or, decoct the dry leaves and serve the decoction for the whole family [Table 1].”[7]
Table 1: “Pestilence prevention” in Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》 Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine) and Ben Cao Gang Mu ( 《本草纲目》 Compendium of Materia Medica)

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Through the comparison above, it can be concluded that the methods to prevent pestilences in Compendium of Materia Medica had a great impact on the prevention and treatment of pestilences in Vietnam. In the Vietnamese medical book Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine, the methods in Compendium of Materia Medica were quoted directly to prevent and treat pestilences. This form of “foreign acceptance” witnessed the history of medical culture communication, expanded the application scope of Chinese medicine in the prevention of pestilences in a foreign land, and enhanced the influence of pestilence prevention thought of Chinese medicine in Han culture sphere.


  Treatment of Pestilences Top


There were 12 detailed prescriptions to treat pestilences in the chapter of “Pestilences” in Volume 1 of Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine [Table 2]. Through analysis and textual research on the prescriptions, it can be seen that the book borrowed folk-proven prescriptions directly or after adaptation (slight modification in dosage and usage) from Chinese medical books, mainly Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (《肘后备急方》Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency), Song Feng Shuo Yi (《松峰说疫》On Epidemics by Song Feng), and Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang (《备急千金要方》Important Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold for Emergency). This form of “foreign acceptance” promoted the overseas spread of folk-proven prescriptions in Chinese medicine to treat pestilences.
Table 2: Prescriptions to treat pestilences in Nan Yao Shen Xiao (《南药神效》 Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine)

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Through analysis and textual research on the prescriptions treating pestilences in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine in [Table 2], it can be seen that the treatment of pestilences in the book was deeply influenced by Chinese medical books and the prescriptions included could be found in traditional Chinese remedy books. For instance, “Pound the pine needles to a pulp and mix with liquor” in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine to treat and prevent pestilences was written in Important Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold for Emergency as early as in Tang Dynasty (唐代) of China: “Take pine needles and cut into very small pieces and mix with liquor. Take 3 g of the mixture a time, three times a day to ward off pestilences for the future 5 years.” Treatment of warm malaria with minimum and sweet wormwood herb in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine was also recorded in a Chinese medical book titled On Epidemics by Song Feng: “Take 5 Qian (16.625 g) of minium (stir-baked) and 2 Liang (62.5 g) of sweet wormwood herb (soaked in child's urine and then dried in the sun) and grind into powder. Take 2 Qian (6.25 g) of the powder a time, with liquor when the patient shows more chills than fever and with tea when the patient shows more fever than chills” and the prescription was named “Danhao Drink (丹蒿饮)”. Treatment of epidemic hot toxin syndrome with pork foot and scallion white in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine was described as early as in Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency of China: “To treat epidemic hot toxin syndrome that causes hands and feet to almost break off, take a pork foot of a sow and remove the hairs. Take a handful of scallion white. Decoct the pork foot and scallion white in a Dou (2 L) of water. Remove the dregs and flavor the decoction with a pinch of salt.” It can be seen that the methods to treat pestilences in Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine were profoundly influenced by Chinese medicine. The folk-proved prescriptions that were simple and convenient in Chinese remedy books were included in the book, and these methods provided variable approaches for preventing and treating pestilences in Vietnam.


  Conclusion Top


Ever since the Song and Yuan Dynasties (宋元时期), with the invention of compass and the development of navigation techniques, China's foreign trade had been prosperous, with frequent trade with neighboring countries, including Vietnam. There had been frequent communication of Chinese medicine between China and Vietnam (an independent country was established after the Song Dynasty of China in Vietnam) during that time. As the Chinese government then accepted tributes including “medicinal spices” from Vietnam, it often gave in return to Vietnam gifts more valuable than the tributes, among which there were medical books. In Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties (宋元明), there were frequent contacts between Chinese and Vietnamese medical practitioners, making a great contribution to the communication of Chinese medicine between the countries. The Chinese government sent frequently Chinese doctors on a medical mission to Vietnam, promoting the spread of the Chinese art of healing and medical system to Vietnam. Under the influence of Chinese medicine and doctors, a number of famous local doctors presented themselves in the country, including Chan Master Huijing.[8] As one of the ancient medical books that are important in Han culture sphere, Miraculous Vietnamese Medicine witnessed the accumulation of Chinese medicine in Vietnam to prevent and treat pestilences, worthy of a thorough investigation.

Translator: Shuna Zhang (张淑娜)

Note

Note 1. Treatment of Vietnamese with Vietnamese medicine: China was in the North in eyes of Vietnamese, and accordingly Vietnam itself was in the” heelfm”, so Chinese herbal medicines from China were known as” sownines medicines” in Vietnam, and the local crude drugs in Vietnam were known as “sownames medicine.” In opinion of Huijing, it was damp and hot in Vietnam, so people mostly suffered from damp-heat diseases, and medication was different between the North (China) and the South (Vietnam). Therefore, he put forth the principle of “finciplen of Vietnamese with Vietnamese medicine.”

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflict of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Makoto M. The Formation of Vietnamese Medicine, Proceedings of the 2nd Collaborative Workshop of Japan. Translated by Xiumei G. Japan: China and South Korea Medical History Association; 2010. p. 270.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Liu YJ. On Inscription of Ancient Vietnamese Medical Books. Collected Papers on Study of Foreign Chinese Books. Beijing: China Publishing House; 2005. p. 270.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Zhen LC (Japan). Supplement to the Annals of Ancient Medical Books of the National Library of Vietnam (I), Collection of Humanities Exchange, summary of the Department of Humanities, Ibaraki University; 2011, p.171.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Huijing (Vietnam). Miraculous Southern Medicine. Preserved in National Library of Vietnam, No. R 18; 1992. p. 1.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Huijing (Vietnam). Miraculous Southern Medicine. Preserved in National Library of Vietnam, No. R 18; 1992. p. 21.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Huijing (Vietnam). Miraculous Southern Medicine. Preserved in National Library of Vietnam, No. R 18; 1992. p. 22.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Li SZ. (Ming Dynasty): Compendium of Materia Medica (proof-read) Book 2. Beijing: People's Medical Publishing House; 1982.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Feng LJ. Preliminary Investigation on Ancient Communication of Chinese medicine between China and Vietnam. Study on Overseas Communications History; 2002. p. 47-56.  Back to cited text no. 8
    


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