Wang Shuhe, also named "Wang Xi", was from Gaoping (now Gaoping County,
Shanxi Province) of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). He lived around the third
century, but his accurate dates of birth and death are unknown. He was born into
a noble family. The superior living and learning environment offered Wang Shuhe
good education since his childhood. Later, because of frequent wars and turmoil,
the family moved to Jingzhou of Hubei Province.
When Wang Shuhe lived in Jingzhou, Zhang Zhongjing was just at the peak of
his medical career. Also because of the friendship with Zhang Zhongjing's
disciple, Weixun, and gradually developed an interest in medicine, and was
determined to study medicine. He sought ancient teachings,learned extensively
from all kinds of classics available, and probed into pathogeny in every way. He
respected classical works but not followed them blindly. He learned from
experienced famous doctors, took in all their merits, so he improved his skills
very soon and gained great fame among his contemporaries. Because of his high
medical skills,he was selected as the military doctor of Cao Cao when the army
of Cao Cao went to the south to fight with Liu Biao in Jingzhou in 208 AD.
Thereafter, he successively served as a doctor for royal families, for the
imperial court and so on. Later, he was promoted to Minister in charge of
imperial medical affairs.
Wang Shuhe not only had a good knowledge of prescriptions recorded in
classical books, but also did in-depth research on sphygmology. In order to help
doctors correctly apply pulse-feeling diagnosis techniques, there was an urgent
need for a monographic work on sphygmology. The greatest contribution in his
life was the compilation of Mai Jing (The Pulse Classic), the earliest
monographic work on sphygmology available in China.
Wang Shuhe's contributions to medical science were not limited to
sphygmology; he also made outstanding contributions to the collation of ancient
literature. One of the most influential works on Chinese medical science,
Treatise on Febrile and Miscellaneous Diseases, was a basic textbook of
traditional Chinese medicine in all times, and many accomplished medical
scientists had carried out research on it. However, owing to chaos caused by
wars,the original book was lost soon after its publication. Wang Shuhe thought
highly of Zhang Zhongjing's academic ideas and knew the great value of the book.
So he spared no pains to collect it everywhere, and recompiled it, dividing it
into two parts, Treatise on Febrile Disease and Jinkui Yaolue (Golden Summary).
Thus, Book on Miscellaneous Diseases of Enteric Fever was preserved and handed
down. Of course, later generations have different opinions on this book. Wang
Shuhe's contribution to the collation of ancient books on traditional Chinese
medicine is great, and the precious works he left for later generations are
praiseworthy. Without Wang Shuhe's collation,we would not have been able to know
the achievements of Zhang Zhongjing in medical science.