In November 1972,a grave was unearthed at Hantanpo in Wuwei City, Gansu Province. According to identification after research, the dead person in the grave might be an elder doctor in the early Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). There were 92 handwritten bamboo slips of medical literature in the grave. At first, people named these bamboo slips as Doctor of the Han Dynasty in Wuwei, but later they renamed it asZhi Baibing Fang(Prescriptions for Diseases) as it contained such Chinese characters.
Zhi Baibing Fangcovers wide contents, including diseases of all kinds, such as internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, the five sense organs, and so on. It described the causative factors, pathology and symptoms of cough, asthma, enteric fever, difficulty in urination, blood stasis, eye troubles, odontalgia, deafness, mass located in the upper or lower abdomen, ulcer, hemorrhage, arthralgia syndrome, spermatorrhea, barrenness, leprosy and other strange diseases. The recorded medicines are nearly of one hundred kinds, including 63 plant ones, 12 animal ones, 16 mineral ones and 9 liquid ones. 69 of them can be seen inShennong Bencao Jing(Shennong Emperor's Classic of Materia Medica), 11 can be seen inMingyi Bielu(Supplementary Record of Famous Doctors), and more than 20 kinds have not been found in any other books of medicine. The book also described the processing of drug-making and different types of medicament form such as herb broth, pills, ointment, powder, sweet wine, drops, turunda and so on. There are altogether 36 prescriptions in it. Some are named after the successor's name or official position, for example, "Gongsun Jun's Prescription", "General Jianweidi's Prescription", "Prescriptions for Seven Diseases and Seven Wounds for Men Reported by Marquis Baishui of East Sea", and so on. In respect of the time for taking medicine, there are "to be taken before meal", "to be taken on an empty stomach in early morning", "to be taken in the evening", and so on. Medicines for oral administration include to be drunk with wine, with rice water, with vinegar, with ripe wine, and to be swallowed with saliva, etc. Drugs for external use include that to be applied on the eye, be put into the ear, be applied with the finger, be poured into the nose, and be stuffed into the nose, and so on. In acupuncture therapy,it described the points, the method of retaining the needle, the compatibility and incompatibility of acupuncture and moxibustion, and its relationship with the age of the patient. Some slips even contain the price of the medicine. Moreover,some prescriptions and medical treatment techniques reflect the experience of some national minorities like the Hun in medicine.
Zhi Baibing Fangshows the philosophy of treatment according to syndrome differentiation, especially there are many cases of the same disease with different treatments. There are rigid rules for the making of prescriptions and choosing of medicines. Equal attention has been paid to drug treatment and acupuncture. The book is not an ordinary collection of medical documents, but is a summing-up of the practical experience of doctors and the medical experience of that time. The general format of the book is one disease accompanied by one prescription, and in each entry there is the name of the prescription, the name or symptoms of the disease, the dosage, the preparation methods of the medicine, the administration, the contraindications and so on. There is little discussion on medical theory, and the style is simple and concise. AlthoughZhi Baibing Fangis not a big book, it is of great significance for the study of medical science of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD).