Continuing education

Shang Han Lun

The Shang Han Lun is one of the oldest clinical textbooks in the world, written by Zhang Ji at the end of the second Han dynasty (25–220 AD). One of the fundamental principles of the Shang Han Lun is the idea that all diseases have their root in yin and yang, the two forces in the universe. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. But when they are out of balance, disease can occur.

Contrary to what most people know The Shang Han Lun focuses on all forms of disease and their external and internal causes, which are defined according to the six climatic influences, which are cold, heat, dampness, dryness, wind, and fire. These influences are believed to be the cause of all diseases, affecting the Six Divisions, and understanding them is critical to effective diagnosis and treatment.

The Six Divisions correspond to the six stages of disease (Tai yang, Yang ming, Shao yang, Tai yin, Shao yin, Jue yin), so using yin and yang to classify the disease and patterns of sickness is essential. In the Shang Han Lun, this all is worked out in a very systematic way, giving us clues on how to find the right qi. It also provides the necessary therapeutic approaches to treat them.

However, the author Zhang Ji assumed his readers had the necessary background information, contained in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic. Since very few Chinese Medicine educations spend much time learning about the classics these days, most therapists lack the essential background information. As a result, fully understanding the Shang Han Lun requires a lifetime of study.

Understanding the Shang Han Lun

Paul Freedman has spent several years studying the classics and has worked out a systematic approach to understanding the Shang Han Lun, using The Yellow Emperor’s Classic as a starting point.

This means: to fully understand the Shang Han Lun, you fully have to understand the yin yang theory, starting with the Dao. Dao is the nameless mystery and yin and yang are its named manifestations. Dao is the beginning of Heaven and Earth that gives birth to the five elemental movements and the six climatic qi. These manifestations are all connected to each other, and therefore also always to the Dao.

When you understand this, it is a small step to realize that by identifying the disease trigger and the resulting primary symptoms, you have the key in hand to remove the pathology from the body.

According to the Shang Han Lun, all diseases that could ever arise are Cold damage and miscellaneous diseases. In fact, this is what Shang Han Za Bing Lun literally means! This means the practitioner has to identify which symptoms are associated with an excess or deficiency of one of the six influences of cold, dryness, fire, dampness, heat, and wind. Based on these diagnostic criteria, the practitioner will then recommend what treatment will help to treat the condition.

Paul has this all worked out for you, using classical texts as stepping stones in a fascinating course that will help you understand the basic principles of Chinese medicine in a very systematic Chinese way. You will understand why the Shang Han Lun, in combination with the Yellow Emperor’s Classic, is an extremely useful method for any TCM practitioner to describe the disease and the treatment in the same terms.

Shang Han Lun and Chinese herbs

The Shang Han Lun places great emphasis on the use of herbal formulas to treat disease. It has 398 sections with 113 herbal prescriptions, organized into the Six Divisions corresponding to the six stages of disease and provides detailed information on specific formulas that can be used to address particular patterns of disease, emphasizing the importance of using a systematic approach to diagnosis and treatment.

This comes as no surprise. The Shang Han Lun is known for its focus on pattern differentiation, or the practice of identifying specific patterns of symptoms that correspond to different diseases. This is based on the idea that each disease has a unique pattern of symptoms that can be used to diagnose and treat it effectively. A herbal formula can also be seen as a systematic representation of pathology, physiology, disease triggers, and Chinese Medicine at the same time.

Many of the formulas described in the text are still popular in clinical use today. You can treat all diseases seen in a clinical setting with only the formulas contained in the Shang Han Lun.

What this course will bring you

The Shang Han Lun is considered one of the most important classical texts of Chinese Medicine. This course offers TCM practitioners a great opportunity to understand the Shang Han Lun’s Six Divisions approach. The wisdom expressed in this text is still relevant to the understanding of the human biological physiology and pathology, making it a great clinical guide based on the very basic theoretical principles of Chinese medicine.

Paul will also teach you how to put this very extremely useful theoretical Chinese system into practice!

Follow up courses

In future courses, Paul will go deeper into the formulas of the Shang Han Lun, explaining how they work in terms of yin and yang, what the taste and temperature are, what formula to use based on the disease triggers, the five element energetics, the six climate qi, and the Six Divisions. He has put this knowledge together in a way you will not find them in any book, but that is extremely insightful and useful in practice.

Understanding the Shang Han Lun to find the right qi is basic knowledge and will make understanding and studying Chinese herbs and formulas so much easier and fun! It will create a feeling for herbs and formulas that will make it far easier to remember them, resulting in better therapeutic results, and confidence.

So if you intend to study herbs in the future, or if you’re already a herbalist that wants to understand formulas in a systematic way, this course will bring you great and indispensable knowledge!