Three Kingdoms, Jin Dynasty, Southern Dynasties and Northern Dynasties (220 A.D.~589 A.D.)

Characteristic of Medicine

Rapid Progress of Clinical Medicine and Further Enrichment of Experience in Various Clinical Fields   
In this period, there was rapid progress in various clinical fields.  Diagnostic techniques had been improved significantly.  Variety of therapies emerged.  There came forth new inventions and discoveries in both diagnosis and treatment fields.  According to records, nearly 200 medical works had been published during this time.  There had been great progress in internal medicine, surgery, orthopedics, gynecology, pediatrics and emergency treatment.
Standardization of the Basic Theory and Clinical Practice in Diagnostic and Acupuncture
There was great development in the standardization of the basic theory and clinical practice in diagnostic and acupuncture based on summarizing and reorganizing of former accomplishments.  Of all the influential classical works compiled in this period, two books must be mentioned.  The first one is Mai Jing (The Pulse Classic) written by Wang Shuhe, which summarized theories of pulse diagnosis.  The second one is Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (The ABC Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion), written by Huangfu Mi.
                                             Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (The ABC Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion)
Outstanding Progress in Materia Medica
There came out more than 70 books on materia medica in this period.  The most influential one is Ben Cao Jing Ji Zhu (Collected Annotation of Herbalism) compiled by Tao Hongjing in the Southern and Northern dynasties (386~589).  In this book, Tao made a complete reorganization of former achievements in materia medica and summarized new experiences after the publication of Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Shen Nong’s Herbal).  Herbs recorded in his book doubled than that in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Shen Nong’s Herbal).  The most important contribution of Tao’s book is the invention of its new classification method of materia medica, which had far-reaching impact on later generations.
Lei Xiao was an expert in the process of medicinal herbs of the Southern dynasty (420~589).  He compiled the first book in China dealing specially with herb process, named Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun (Lei’s Treatise on Herb Process).  According to historical records, the book introduced many preparatory methods for more than 200 herbs.
Tao Hongjing

Development of Preventive Medicine

In this period, there were achievements in many fields, such as personal hygiene, food hygiene, environmental sanitation, and disease preventive measures.  There was obvious progress in health care that time.  As an important measure of personal hygiene as well as a traditional custom of the Chinese, bathing became more prevalent among people after Buddhism was transmitted into China.  As mentioned by Fu Xuan in Jin dynasty (265~420), “illness finds its way in by mouth”.  This had become a popular health proverb in China.  With regard to environmental sanitation, China was one of the earliest cultures to practice general clean-ups.  People of Southern dynasties (420~589) carried forward this good tradition and paid much attention to environmental sanitation, such as street cleaning.

Knowledge of Contagious Disease

In his Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies), Ge Hong put forward the “epidemic pathogenic factor” as a cause of disease.  He clearly described it as the cause of contagious disease and pointed out that infection did not cut off when a person died of an infectious disease.  His book also recorded the method of using Dichroae Radix (Chang Shan) and Artemisiae annuae Herba (Qing Hao) to treat malaria.  In the book there was a formula of applying the brain of a rabid dog to the wounds caused by it.  It can be deemed as the originator of artificial immunization.
The description of smallpox in the book was the earliest record of the disease in the world.  Ge Hong pointed out that smallpox is an epidemic disease and clearly expounded the disease course, the characteristic of sores, and the prognosis.  Therapeutic and preventive methods were also introduced in this book.  Ge Hong also pointed out that it was not a local disease of China.  It was spread to China by prisoners of war during the period of 23~56 A.D.
As early as 1600 years ago, in his Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies), Ge Hong described the ecology and original source of tsutsugamushi.  He also described the signs and symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis when infected by it.  His achievements were spoken of highly by scholars at home and abroad.
Ge Hong
Rapid Development of Various Clinical Fields
One symbol of the rapid development of various clinical fields is the appearance of increasingly large numbers of monographs (more than 200).  Liu Juan Zi Gui Wei Fang (Liu Juanzi’s Ghost-Bequeathed Prescriptions), written by Gong Qingxuan in the fifth century, is the earliest extant work specialized in surgery.  There were other works such as Fu Ren Fang (Prescriptions for Women) written by Chen Yanzhi of the Eastern Jin dynasty (265~420), specialized in gynecology and obstetrics, and Xiao Er Fang (Prescriptions for Children), written by Xu Zhicai of the Northern Qi dynasty (479~502).
During this period, acupuncture and moxibustion had been established as a subject.  The notable sign of its establishment is the book Zhen Jiu Jia Yi Jing (ABC Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) written by Huangfu Mi in the third century.  This book is the earliest systemic extant work dealing exclusively with acupuncture and moxibustion.  It proposed and established patterns for the future development of acupuncture and moxibustion.
During this period, large numbers of monograph had come forth during the climax of researching in sphygmology and diagnostics.  Wang Shuhe’s ten-volume works, Mai Jing (The Pulse Classic), summed up knowledge of sphygmology comprehensively and systematically.  This book established the twenty four human pulse conditions and standards of pulse-taking.  It can be deemed as the foundational work of sphygmology of Chinese medicine.
Wang Shuhe