Chapter Three Classification of Formulae
Classification of formulae is a scientific methad which is used to study and generalize the formation of established formulae in ancient and modern times and the law of application in clinical practice. Physicians in successive dynasties have made various explorations and worked out many classificatiun systems. In summa ry, they have been classified by the disease and syndrame, by the structure of formula, by the effects, by the causes of disease, by viscera, by niain formula, hy clinic disciplines and by the preparation forms.
Classification of formulae based on diseases and syndromes appeared for the first time in the hook Prescriptions for Fifty-two Diseases. The formulae recorded in this book are arranged in names of diseases. This kind of classification is convenient for clinical practice. Later sges, the Medical Secrets of an Official, Peaceful holy Benevolent Prescriptions, Prcscriptions for Universal Relief, and Textual Research on Medical Formulae, etc. are all the representative works for classification of formulas based on diseases and syndromes.
Classification of formohie based an the structure of formulae was recorded for the first lime in the hook Internal Classic. Chapter 74 in Plain Questions states:
“The formula composed of one principal herb and two assistant herbs is attribota ble to light prescription. Those composed of one principal herb, three assistant herbs and five adjuvant herbs pertain to medium prescription. Those composed of one principal herb, three assistant herbs and nine ad] ovant herbs pertain to heavy prescription”. “The formula made up of one principal herb and two assistant herbs is termed the add prescription. The fornnila made up of two principal herbs and four assistant herbs is known as the even prescription” Physician Cheng Wuji of Jin Dynasty in his book Forward of Concise Expositions on Cold-Attack stated:
“All formulae can be classified, according to their functions, into the seven catego ries: heavy, light, mild, urgent, odd, even and complex formulae” It raised clearly the concepts of “seven formulae”. This is one kind of classification of fornialae at early stage. -
heavy formula refers to the one in which the herbs are great in variety or few ingredients with large dosage, and is capable of treating severe case or disease in the lowcr—jiao. It is usually for one time taking. Light formula refers to that which
is used to treat mild case or disease in the upper jiao and usually in few iogredients or more herbs with small doses. Fur the formula with large dosage,it should be taken in small doses at short intervals. Mild formula points to that which pa tency of herbs is moderate in action, and is iodicated for debilitated ease with chronic disease. It needs to be taken in a long period of time. Urgent formula points to that which herbs are drastic in action and is used lo cure acute or severe disease to obtain quick curative effect. Odd formula refers to prescription with one single in gredient or odd numbered ingredients. Even formula refers to prescription with two ingredients or even-numbered ingredients. Complex furmula meaos combine tiun of odd and even recipes in the hook Internal Classic, which is formed by cam bining two or more set recipes, and indicated for complicate.d disease. This is a kind of primitive classification, only having historical value but no significance of practice.
Classification of formulae according to the effects originated from the Pair of Herbs written by Xu Zhicai in the Northern Qi Dynasty. The effects of herbs in this book falls into ten categories: “dispersion”, “clearing”, “ronification”, “purgation”, “lightening”, “weighting”, “diuretics”, “astringent”, “drying” and “moisturizing”. Zhao jie of Song Dynasty in his book Classic for Holy Relief added a word “formula” to each category mentioned above. Down to Jin Dynasty, Cheng Wuji in his book Concise Exposition on Cold-Attack officially called “ten categories” as “ten kinds of formulae”, which means as follows: Dispersion can remove obstruction. Clearing can resolve stasis. Tonics can improve the condition of deficiency. Purgation is capable of treating the closure Lighting can win aver heaviness. The heavy herbs can cure mental disorder. Diuretics can clear stagnation. Astringents possess the effects of treating lingering diarrhea and spontaneous emission. Drying can conquer dampness. Moisturizing can moisten dryness. This classification is scientific and practical, being convenient to sum up the cammon law of formulae. Physician Kou Zongshi of the Song Dynasty increased other two types cool formula and warm formula, on the basis of “ten kinds of formulae” ,it being known as twelve kinds of formulae. Liao Zhungchun further added formula with elevating effect and formula with lowering effect to them, which then were called “fourteen kinds of formulae” . Physician Xu Sihe classified the formulae into the most types in his book Compilation of Medicine.On the basis of “ten kinds of formulae”, he increased fourteen kinds nf formulae, including furmulae for regulation, mediation, relieving the exterior, removing dampness, dispelling cold, war19
ming the exterior, clearing away sommer-heat, porging firc, tranqoilizing the mind, indocing dioresis and clearing away heat, and formulae with moderation nature, with odd nombered ingredients, with mild effects, etc. There are twenty-four kinds of formulae in total.
Doctor Zhaog Jingyoe in his book Jingyue’s Complete Works stated: “Most of formolae should he uncomplicated when forming prescription”. According to their effects, the formulae can be classified into eight categories: tonic formolae, mediating formulae, purgative formulae, dispcrsing formulae, cold-dispelling formulae, heat clearing formolae, astringenty formulae and etiolugical formulae, which were termed “eight battle lattice”.
Doctor Wang Ang wrote Collection of Formulae with Notes. He classified all formulae, according to their effects, into twenty-two categories, including formulae for tanification, exterior relieving, emetic, interior purging buth diaphoretics and purgatives mediation, activating qi, promoting blood circulation, dispelling wind, cold-dispelling, summer-heat-clearing, dampness-dispelling, dryness—moistening, fire-purging, phlegm-resolving, digestive retention-relieving, astringenty, expelling or antihelminthic, eyesight improving, Lreating external carbuocles, menstruation- regulating and labor-aiding and first aid herbs. This classification is moderate and more applicable. Modern textbooks of Chinese herbs formulae are mostly based en this kind of classification.
As for other classifications, each of them has its owu siroug puinis, however, the contents may be too complicated. They are not often used in clinical practices howere. So it is unnecessary to go into details.
Ia summary, the classification of formulae has not yet reached a common understanding until prosent. How to draw a classification of both scientific and prac tical value from numerous formulae will be a task for further study.
This book basically follows Wang’s classification and incorporates the advantages of other textbooks of formulae. The formulae of elaboration are classified into following eighteen chapters, including formulae of exterior-relieving, purgative, digestive mediating, heat-clearing, interior-warming, tonic, astringent, sedative, orifice-opening, qi-regulating, blood-regulating, dampness-dispelling, phlegm-resolving, wind-eliminating, dryness-nioisteoing, vermifuge and emetic. The selection of each kind of formulae is hased on the main symptoms and principal herbs, and at tention is also paid to their inter-relation so as to give prominence to the regularity of selecting herbs and constituting a formula. The chapters and sections that eon20
lain sabstantial cnntents may be subdivided into several types so that their de tailed outline is clear and arrangement in order. Thus, it is convenient for learning and clinical practice.