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A Brief Discussion of Chapter 5 of the Huangdi Neijing and Zhang Jingyue, and

Treating the Root

Zhang Jingyue (also Zhang Jiebin ) 1563-1640 CE was a prolific author
during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). His most famous work is the Lei Jing ( The
Categorized Classic), which organises and commentates on the Huangdi Neijing ().
He also authored another work titled the Complete Works of Jingyue () which
is the origin of the important diagnosis technique, the 10 questions (). This article
will briefly discuss the opening statement from the Huangdi Neijing Su Wen
Chapter 5 The Great Treatise on Resonating Phenomena of Yin-Yang ,
comments from two essays Zhang Jingyue authored in the Complete Works of Jingyue.
Chapter 5 is incredibly important to us as Chinese medicine physicians because it
introduces the concept of treating disease at the root. But what is the root of disease? In
clinic, we are often presented with patients with complex signs and symptoms, but how
can we find the root? This article will hopefully help us better understand what Zhang
Jingyue understand the root of disease to be.
Translation of Chapter 5

Huangdi Says: In regards to Yin and Yang, it is the Dao () of Heaven and Earth, the
principle of the ten thousand things, the mother and father of change, the root of life and
death, the residence of spiritual illumination (), to treat disease [you] must search
for it at the root.
To understand this passage, extracts from two essays by Zhang Jingyue in his Jingyue
Quanshu will aid us. The first is understanding Yin and Yang, and the second is
Searching for the Root.
Essay on Yin-Yang (from )

In all diagnosis and treatment of disease, you must first distinguish yin and yang, that
is the guiding principle of the way of medicine (). Yin and yang cannot deceive, in
treating how do we distinguish them?

Even though the Dao of Medicine can be complicated, and it is said it can be hard to
distinguish, however there is Yin and Yang and that is all ()!
For diseases, it is said exterior is Yang, interior is yin, heat is yang, cold is yin,
ascending (upper) is yang, descending (lower) is yin, qi is yang, blood is yin...
This first passage gives us our primary aim for understanding illness. We must first
distinguish is it yin, or yang? Zhang Jingyue then categorizes yin and yang for us. This

should serve as a reminder for us to always think about yin and yang when observing a
Having understood the categories of yin and yang, Zhang Jingyue then enlightens us on
how to search for the root of disease in the next essay using this method of thinking.
Essay on Searching for the Root (from )

All the things in the world have a root, the method () to treat () disease (), you
must search for the root () first. That which is called the root, there is only one, not

If the [disease] is from external influence, the root is exterior, if it is from internal
damage, the root is interior, if it is a heat disease, its root is fire, if it is a cold disease,
its root is cold, if it is an evil, the root is excess, if there is not enough Zheng Qi, the root
is deficiency.
Once again, Zhang Jingyue outlines the same goal as Chapter 5 of the Huangdi Neijing Suwen.
To treat disease we must search for the root. So paired with the understanding of how yin and
yang are defined, in addition to the examples given by Zhang Jingyue will allow us to better
understand the patient's disease. Are they hot or cold, or excess or deficient, or is it interior or
exterior? Ultimately, all this is leading us to the treatment idea of how will I restore the harmony
between yin and yang in this patient to treat the root of their disease. We need to remember as
Zhang Jingyue states yin and yang cannot deceive.

By Michael Brown, 2016, For the Jingluo

Picture of Yin-Yang Leijing Supplementary Images