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Wang Shuhe

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.