A Single Medicine for a Disease: Simple Formula of Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine, It's Compilation and Succession

OH Chaekun
April 2013
Korean Journal of Medical History;Apr2013, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
In this study, I am planning to analyze the contents of Simple formula (...) in Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine (...TM), and then find out the historical implication of medical science. Simple formula is a prescription that is consisted of a single or three to four kinds of medicines, and this does not follow typical control principles such as 'sovereign, minister, assistant and courier (...)'. While simple formulas are often built after major formulas, TM placed simple formulas to an end of each classified item. It is difficult to find a similar compilation style as that of Simple formula among similar volumes oft-medical books during the same period of TM. Thus, it can be assumed that TM included simple formulas for special purposes or reasons which are deemed as an important factor in stipulating the features of TM. The tradition of Simple formula, using medicinal herbs which can be easily acquired and trying to make an effect with a small number of herbs, had existed before (...) Dynasty. Introduced by Emergency Prescriptions from the Countryside (...) and Samhwaja's Formulary from the Countryside (...), the tradition of Simple formula is succeeded by Compendium of Prescriptions from the Countryside (...), and after a while, it is synthetically arranged and recognized through Simple formula of TM. By analyzing simple formulas of TM, I could find out the followings. First, in simple formulas of TM, in which the components are the number of medicinal herbs, the name of prescription, and their application, should be understood as a simply consisted prescription rather than single medicine formulas. Second, simple formulas of TM are 2,001 in total, and are organized in most items. Third, although simple formulas cite a number of formulary., it shows a high degree of dependence to Classified Emergency Materia Medica (...). This shows that simple formulas that are structured to use medicine according to symptoms based on the effect of each medicinal herb, without understanding or dialectic process of syndrome differentiation. Fourth, while the part of medicinal herbs, Decoction section (...), focuses on listing the information of each medicinal herb, simple formulas introduce effect, dose, volume and even a mix with other medicinal herbs and an application of them. Therefore, a simple formula evaluates single medicinal herb as a sort of prescription. Fifth, more than half of 33 kinds of medicinal herbs, which are used more than 11 times in simple formulas of TM, are easy to get around the village, and their Korean names of Materia Medica from the Countryside (...) are possible to be seen in Decoction section. However, the fact that Materia Medica from China (...) such as Coptics chinensis (...) and Realgar (...) is included in simple formulas means that they are not limited to Materia Medica from the Countryside, and some of Materia Medica from China were not difficult to be procured in the time of publication of TM. Specific purpose of publishing simple formulas is not written separately. However, through the king's command of King Seonjo (..., 1552-1608) in introduction, the active containing of folk prescriptions (...), and the emphasis of medicinal herb's volume using simple formulas, it is assumed that the Chosun (...) government at that time tried to provide friendly and practical medical information with simple formulas, to collect and formulate private medical experiences in order to expand their extension of medical information, and to maximize the effect of treatment. The compilation system like TM was highly regarded but was also the target of criticism. In particular, Kingjeongjo (..., 1752-1800) criticized the complicatedness of TM and deleted information related to simple formulas through government compilation medical texts such as Explanation of Subtleties for the People's Longevity (...), New Edition on Universal Relife (...). However, simple formulas which were not composed of many medicinal herbs could be useful way for treating people who did not have professional medical knowledge and did not have a large range of herbs. In actuality, Secret Works of Universal Benefit (...), the representative compilation of civil medicinal text which was published after TM included information related to simple formulas, and in Records for rural life of Chosun gentlemen (...), the framework of simple formulas of TM was maintained and is filled with a vast amount of information. Furthermore, cases of utilizing simple formulas are included in the U-Jam's miscellaneous writings (...) which is a clinical record. In Simple formulas of TM, private medical experiences at the time of Chosun are written first, then recognized by the experts, and finally returned to the public. Although the purpose and the target of these simple formulas publication are not clearly known, it is easy found, does not require any advanced medical knowledge, and above all, the people must have welcomed to the supply of economic simple formulas. Therefore, simple formulas show an aspect of TM, as a medical book for public.


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