Canonical Chinese Medicine™ NEW CURRICULUM AVAILABLE

What is Canonical Chinese Medicine?

Canonical Chinese Medicine is the style of Chinese medicine practiced along the tenets outlined in the Western and Eastern Han dynasty classics or canons. It is the foundation of both clinical and theoretical Chinese medicine as we know it. Canonical Chinese medicine is comprised of two main schools being the Yellow Emperor huangdi黃帝school of Medical Canons yijing pai 醫經派and the Divine Farmer shennong神農school of Canonical Formulas jingfang pai 經方派.

Historical Background

Chinese medicine formed in decentralized fashion during the four non-industrial millennia BCE as the result of countless eclectic experiences. For centuries, due to the lack of a unified and coherent system of thought, Chinese medicine existed in the form of folk medicine displaying characteristics of both traditional folklore and practical medical acts.

But with the ripening of the human worldview and the decline of fallacy, came the advent of more structured pre-Daoist and proto-Daoist naturalist thought. Consequently, the medical investigation gained direction and focus from these increasingly widespread philosophies of natural observation. This allowed for the systematization and the establishment of medicine as a consistent and discriminating science.

The establishment of standardized Chinese script during Qin dynasty was the start of the codification process. During the five centuries before 200 BC, the Hundred Schools of Thought were engaged in the authoring of the canons of all scientific disciplines. And so did numerous scholars engage in the compilation of the first medical classics such as the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon huangdi neijing黃帝內經, the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Eighty-one Difficulties huangdi bashiyi nan jing黃帝八十一難經, etc.

By late Western Han dynasty, these books formed the corpus of standardized medicine and consolidated all valid theories and practices into one ultimately coherent system. The filtering process at the basis of this standardization allowed for the discarding of most irrelevant aspects inherited from folk beliefs. This finally formed the threshold of canonical Chinese medicine, i.e. the medicine of China practiced along the tenets of the theoretical Medical Canons and practiced along the clinical Canonical Formula books of the Han period.

The Treatise on Cold Damage and Complex Disorders shanghan zabing lun傷寒雜病論 and Its Place in Canonical Chinese Medicine

Proponents of both aforementioned lineages engaged in academic exchange in an attempt to mutually supplement insufficiencies and clarify obscurities. But it was only until Eastern Han dynasty that a written work was successful in approximating the integration of both theoretical and clinical schools. Though belonging primarily to the clinical tradition of the Canonical Formulas of the Divine Farmer, the Treatise on Cold Damage and Complex Diseases by Zhang Zhongjing became the first manual to establish the full practice of clinical herbal medicine. As Zhang Zhongjing mentions in his own preface, he studied and used the theories of the aforementioned Neijing and Nanjing as well as widely collected herbal formulas and knowledge that circulated at the time. He also adopted a Han dynasty pulse diagnosis system based on the Western Han dynasty booklets of Methods for Pulse Assessment pingmai fa 平脈法and Methods for Pulse Differentiation bianmai fa 辨脈法. And he incorporated early Han dynasty climatologic theories on yin yang, five phases and six qi into a clinically relevant system of six conformation differentiation. All materials he extracted from the Great Treatise on Yin and Yang yinyang dalun, which ultimately was incorporated into the Neijing Suwen as chapters 67 through 74.

Study of Canonical Chinese Medicine through the Lens of the Shanghan Zabing Lun

Therefore, as an exemplary work of canonical Chinese medicine, the study of the Shanghan Zabing Lun reveals the original identity of our medicine, and displays all aspects of Han and pre-Han medical science in high density. It also shows the origins of all styles of Chinese medicine later to develop throughout its consequent history. Investigation of some of the more obvious characteristics of Zhang Zhongjing’s work hence allows the modern academic and clinician alike, to understand both the past and future of Chinese medicine and to illuminate both its theoretical foundations and clinical application.

The Canonical Chinese Medicine training designed by Dr. Arnaud Versluys will instruct crucial facets of canonical medicine and provide the participant a more accurate understanding of the structure and development Chinese clinical medicine. This will allow for a deeper theoretical knowledge and improved clinical efficacy. The training will teach pivotal theories of the Neijing and Nanjing, followed by profound herbal knowledge of the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica Classic shennong bencao jing 神農本草經and the Yiyin Decoction Classic yiyin tangye jing 伊尹湯液經. All of which will be ultimately succeeded by a multi-faceted and in-depth instruction of how to understand and work with the Shanghan Lun and the Jingui Yaolue. Working from the perspectives of these classics will be done both on a diagnostic level by utilizing advanced pulse diagnosis and abdominal palpation, as well as from a therapeutic perspective by applying both herbs and acupuncture as one streamlined process. No clinical specialty will be left unaddressed and the successful participant will be able to master the true classical practice of Chinese medicine for greater applicability and efficacy in modern clinic.

Training Program

a. Shanghan Lun Sequence


Nineteen Lines on Pathology (2 days)
Five Flavors (2 days)
The Canonical Monographs: The Herb and Formula Archetypes (4 days)
Shanghan Lun Weekend (2 days)


Shanghan Lun Pulse Diagnosis (2 days)
Shanghan Lun Abdominal Diagnosis (2 days)


The Zhongjing Formula Families (2 days)
The Zhongjing Formula Modification System (2 days)
Shanghan Lun Acupuncture (2 days)


Shanghan Case Studies
Respirology, Infectious Diseases (half day)
Gastroenterology (half day)
Neurology and Cardiology (half day)
Immunology, Rheumatology and Oncology (half day)
Gynecology, Obstetrics and Urology (half day)
Dermatology (half day)

Total: 22 days, 154 hours

b. Jingui Yaolue Sequence


Jingui Yaolue Weekend (4 days)


Jingui Yaolue Pulse Diagnosis (2 days)
Jingui Yaolue Abdominal Diagnosis (2 days)


Jingui Case Studies
Respirology, Infectious Diseases (half day)
Gastroenterology (half day)
Neurology and Cardiology (half day)
Immunology, Rheumatology and Oncology (half day)
Gynecology, Obstetrics and Urology (half day)
Dermatology (half day)

Total: 11 days, 77 hours

Total Program: 33 days, 231 hours

c. Advanced Postgraduate Courses

The Origins of the Zhongjing Formulas: The Formulas of the Decoction Classic (2 days)

Advanced Zhongjing Pulse Diagnosis: The Missing Formulas (2 days)

The Fukushin Classic: Fukusho Kiran (2 days)

Advanced Shanghan Lun Seminar (2 days)

Dr. Zeng Case Studies (2 days)

Dr. Tian Case Studies (2 days)

The Tian-Zeng Classical and Experimental Formula Modifications (2 days)

For more info, please contact:

Arnaud Versluys, PhD, LAc
Acupuncture Associates of Oregon LLC
2335 NW Raleigh Street, Suite 123
Portland, OR, 97210
Tel: +1 503-780 1369
Fax: +1 503-227 1089