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An Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels:
Acupuncture, Alchemy, and Herbal Medicine

An Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels: Acupuncture, Alchemy, and Herbal MedicineAn Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels: Acupuncture, Alchemy, and Herbal Medicine

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Li Shi-Zhen’s Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels (Qi jing ba mai kao) is among the most remarkable texts in the Chinese medical literature. Bringing together writings on acupuncture, herbal medicine, and internal cultivation (nei dan), it argues that aspiring adepts and physicians alike must understand the full scope of the extraordinary vessels if they hope to achieve their respective goals.

Although the Exposition is a cornerstone of the extraordinary vessel literature, it is rarely, if ever, considered on its own terms. Li’s approach to extraordinary vessel acupuncture and herbal medicine reflects a perspective that differs considerably from the strategies familiar to most modern readers. His work on the extraordinary vessels is every bit as innovative in its own milieu as his other seminal writings, Pulse Studies of the Lakeside [Recluse] (Bin-Hu mai xue) and Comprehensive Outline of the Materia Medica (Ben cao gang mu), are in theirs.

This volume is the first translation of and commentary on the Exposition published in English, and it is among the most comprehensive discussions of the text available in any language. It is divided into five parts. Part I provides an introductory overview of the main themes running throughout the text: theory, acupuncture, herbal medicine, internal alchemy, and pulse diagnosis. Part II contains the Chinese text and translation of the Exposition itself. Part III presents extensive commentaries on the text, and Part IV discusses the influence of Li Shi-Zhen’s extraordinary vessel writings on subsequent pre-modern and modern physicians. Part V consists of appendices containing tables of herbs, prescriptions, acupuncture holes, and the people and books mentioned in the Exposition. There is also an extensive bibliography, point/hole and herb/formula index, and general index.

CONTENTS

Part I Preliminaries
Introduction
Biographical Sketch of Li Shi-Zhen
Theoretical Considerations
Li Shi-Zhen’s Extraordinary Vessel Acupuncture
Herbal Considerations
Keeping to the One: Internal Alchemy in Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
An Overview of Extraordinary Vessel Pulse Diagnosis

Part II Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
Prefaces
An Overview of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
The Eight Vessels
The Yin Wei Vessel
The Yang Wei Vessel
Diseases of the Two Wei
The Yin Qiao Vessel
The Yang Qiao Vessel
Diseases of the Two Qiao
The Chong Vessel
Diseases of the Chong Vessel
The Ren Vessel
Diseases of the Ren Vessel
The Du Vessel
Diseases of the Du Vessel
The Dai Vessel
Diseases of the Dai Vessel
The Pulses of the Nine Pathways of the Qi Opening
An Explanation of Pronunciation

Part III Commentary on Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
On the Overview of the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
On the Eight Vessels
On the Wei Vessels
On Diseases of the Two Wei
On the Qiao Vessels
On Diseases of the Two Qiao
On the Chong Vessel
On Diseases of the Chong Vessel
On Diseases of the Ren Vessel
On the Du Vessel
On Diseases of the Du Vessel
On the Dai Vessel
On Diseases of the Dai Vessel
On the Pulses of the Extraordinary Vessels

Part IV Legacy of Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
Along the Grand Thoroughfare: Luo Dong-Yi’s Vision of Extraordinary Vessel Function
Ye Tian-Shi’s Contributions to Extraordinary Vessel Therapeutics
Shen Jin-Ao’s Contributions to Extraordinary Vessel Therapeutics
Modern Extraordinary Vessel Case Records
Vessels Wide Shut: Li Shi-Zhen’s Qiao Vessel Pathodynamics
Master Hu’s Process: The Seeds of Internal Cultivation through the Extraordinary Vessels

Part V Appendices
Acupuncture Holes of the Extraordinary Vessels
Extraordinary Vessel Herbal Formulas
Single Medicinals Entering the Extraordinary Vessels
Li Shi-Zhen’s Synopsis of Extraordinary Vessel Pulses from Pulse Studies of the Lakeside Master
Editions of Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels
People and Texts Appearing in Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels

An Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels: Acupuncture, Alchemy, and Herbal Medicine

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