Chunyu Yi was from Linzi in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD). He was born in 205BC, but the year of his death is unknown. As he once worked as a Taicang Zhang (an official in charge of tax and salary), he also had the honorary title of "Taicang Gong" (Sir. Taicang), simply as "Cang Gong".
He was modest and studious, especially good at creative reading of books and flexible treatment of diseases. Chunyu Yi was born into a poor family. As a child, he liked to read medical books and could treat some cases. Then, he learned from the famous doctor Gongsun Guang in Zichuan. Gongsun Guang liked his modesty and studiousness very much, so he thought highly of Chunyu Yi and taught Chunyu Yi all his miraculous prescriptions without any reserve. Soon after,Gongsun Guang found that he had nothing to teach Chunyu Yi, and he predicted that Chunyu Yi would become a national level famous doctor for sure. In order to help him receive further education,Gongsun Guang recommended that he should take Gongsun Yangqing, an elder brother of Gongsun Guang, as his teacher. Gongsun Yangqing was already in his 70s at that time. He also appreciated Chunyu Yi's modesty and desire to learn knowledge, so he explained all the secret books and ancient prescriptions he had collected to Chunyu Yi in detail. In the second year after finishing his apprenticeship, Chunyu Yi began to practice medicine; and three years later,he became a famous doctor. Chunyu Yi swotted at classical medical books,and could recite them at random,but when he treated his patients, he would practice according to the actual condition, and never apply the book knowledge mechanically.
A doctor of the king of the Qi Kingdom called Sui was ill, and took the Wushi San (Powder of Five Stones) prepared by himself, but his illness was getting worse, so he turned to Chunyu Yi for help. After careful feeling of his pulse, Chunyu Yi said, "The disease you got is internal fever, and drug stone is a strong medicine, so you'll suffer dysuria, which deteriorates your disease. Please never take it again." Sui did not agree, and snapped back with an example, "Bianque said,a Yin stone (a stone of negative nature) will cure a disease of the positive nature while a Yang stone (a stone of the masculine and positive nature) will cure a disease of the negative nature. Chunyu Yi said with a smile, "What you said may be plausible. Although Bianque said so,in treatment of a disease, you must make careful study on the condition of the illness in combination with medical theory and therapy, and choose medicines according to the patient's physique and state of illness, then you can get an ideal effect. And he predicted, if Sui stuck to his way, a carbuncle would grow in his body soon. Sure enough,about a hundred days later, Sui got a carbuncle on his breast, and died. That example shows Chunyu Yi's style characterized by creative reading of books and flexible treatment of diseases.
Establishing Case Record to Develop Medical Science
Zhenji (record of medical treatment) is what we call "case record" today. Taking case record is an ordinary matter in today's medical treatment, and is a basic requirement for a qualified doctor. But the establishment of the case record was no easy matter at all. Zhao, emperor of the Qi Kingdom, asked Chunyu Yi, "You have effectively cured many patients. Where were your patients from？What diseases did they have？After taking your medicines, what kind of change took place in their state of illness？" Chunyu Yi answered the questions one by one. He had taken down such information as the patients' native places, names, occupations, disease names, pathogenic factors, nature of disease, diagnosis, therapies and prognoses,etc., thus forming the earliest case record and leaving precious historic data for today's research on the medical science in the Han Dynasty.
Chunyu Yi's case record covers both the nobles and the ordinary people. In the chapter "Biography of Cang Sir" of the book Shiji (the Records of the Historian), there are 25 cases of illness recorded, among which 15 were cured, 10 were not cured, which covered many categories of modern medicine such as digestion, urination, respiration, cardiovascular diseases, internal secretion, blood vessel of the brain, infectious diseases, surgery, poisoning, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics. There is such a story in his case record: When Huang Changqing of the Qi Kingdom feted his guests, Chunyu Yi was among them, too. When he saw Song Jian, the younger brother of the Queen, he told him anxiously, "You have been ill for four or five days. You have a pain in your waist so that you cannot bend forward or backward, and you have dysuria, too. You must try to cure it while it has not spread to your internal organs. It is called 'kidney trouble'." Song Jian said, "Really so." He took the "soft soap" prepared by Chunyu Yi, and recovered completely in just 18 days. Such a diseChunyu Yi was from Linzi in the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD). He was born in 205BC, but the year of his death is unknown. As he once worked as a Taicang Zhang (an official in charge of tax and salary), he also had the honorary title of "Taicang Gong" (Sir. Taicang), simply as "Cang Gong".