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This is the first introduction to Chinese medicine to present the basics of Chinese medicine as understood in China. The writing team includes Nigel Wiseman, the foremost linguist and explicator of Chinese medical concepts: Eric Brand, a Chinese-literate western Chinese medical clinican and teacher; Sabine Wilms, a university historian and Chinese medical translator; and Feng Ye, a traditional physician who is also a Medical Doctor. Féng Yè selected the source materials, and with Eric Brand planned the content of the book. Most of the text was written by Nigel Wiseman. Chapters 1 and 14 (historical development and cultural influences) were co-authored by Sabine Wilms and Nigel Wiseman. The whole text was edited by Eric Brand.
The texts concentrates on teaching the root concepts of Chinese medicine as they are understood in Chinese university courses. English-language basic textbooks published to date lack depth, comprehensiveness, and precision in the transmission of traditional Chinese medical concepts. There have been advances in the higher levels, with the appearance of books on diagnosis and specialist theories such as the cold damage (shang hán) and warm disease (wen bìng) theories. These books have immensely expanded the knowledge of Westerners. At the beginning level, the number of textbooks has increased, providing a wide choice for readers. However, the increase in knowledge has not been reflected in texts introducing students to the basics of Chinese medicine.
There is still no basic text of Chinese medicine in Chinese that, if accurately translated from beginning to end, would form a readable text that could efficiently educate English-speaking students in the basics. Many basic Chinese texts of Chinese medicine are written by knowledgeable scholars. However, they all fail to apply the modern didactic principle of proceeding from the known to the unknown. Students must read any text several times over or read several different texts to gain a clear understanding of the basics. Chinese students learning Chinese medicine have the advantage that a huge body of literature is available to them.
The problem for Westerners wishing to learn Chinese medicine is that there is much less literature available to them, and most of their teachers are acquainted only with English literature. Much of the English-language literature available has been written by writers who have no knowledge of Chinese, and hence they often obscure and even distorts many of the concepts of Chinese medicine. The basic theories are often simplified and rationalized in such a way as to conform to Western expectations of a knowledge system. In this process, however, much of the complexity, subtlety, and depth of Chinese medicine are lost. This text presents the essence of Chinese primers in a rational and efficient way, without simplifying or obscuring concepts.
Information to be included in a basic Chinese medical text requires careful selection. In China, major trends in basic texts have vastly changed over the last few decades. While early modern texts attempted a comprehensive description of the subject from basic theories such as yin and yáng to treatments, more recent literature has limited the information in basic texts to everything except treatment. In the process, the basic information has been expanded. Many texts now take more trouble to explain the cognitive bases of Chinese medicine; they explain the all-important concept of qì in greater detail; they devote more attention to constitution in the understanding of how a patient's condition has arisen; they devote greater attention to pathomechanisms. In other words, they tend to paint a more comprehensive and detailed picture of the basic approaches of Chinese medicine to understanding health and sickness. In this volume, we have incorporated many of the new ideas that are presented in Chinese-language texts. The present book has a number of goals. It aims to present Chinese medicine for the complete beginner, introducing new material step by step. It is intended for the general public and biomedical and alternative therapy health-care workers.