China has experienced many epidemics over time. Nearly 2,000 years ago, the great physician Zhang Zhong Jing lost many members of his family in an epidemic. He researched all the medical texts at the time, and he wrote the Shang Han Za Bing Lun, which was later divided into two separate texts by scholars. Dr. Zhang formulated a comprehensive theory of the six stages of disease, from the most superficial level to the deepest, along with herb formulas that treat each stage.
This theory and his formulas are still used effectively today. Many of the herb formulas that were found to be effective during the COVID-19 outbreak in China were built on formulas created by Zhang Zhong Jing. The seriously ill patients were stabilized on ventilators, which gave the herbalists time to treat them. Patients who received herbs generally had better outcomes than those who didn’t. After the pandemic has passed, we will be able to examine the data.
By following the six-stage theory, modern practitioners of Chinese medicine are able to create formulas based on the current symptoms of a disease, and the formulas can be changed as the course and stage of the disease changes. We owe Dr. Zhang a debt of gratitude, and we are fortunate that his work is still helping save lives in the modern world.