Translating Ancient Chinese Wisdom into Medicine for Today

Q&A Forum

Q&A Forum for Imperial Mentorship members

Please send me your questions through this form, and let me know whether you are okay with me sharing the answer (and perhaps your name) on this forum for the Imperial Mentees…

Looking for a translation of Sun Simiao's Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang, vols. 2-4

Question (not from a member but one I receive often enough to make it worth spelling out the answer in a bit more detail):

I am the librarian at [XYZ institution of Chinese medicine]. Our copy of Sabine Wilms's Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang has gone missing. We'd like to replace it. I see that it is now out of print and the last update i can find from September 2014 says that a revised edition is in progress. Is that book still on track for publication? If so, I'd like to wait to purchase that one rather than buying an expensive copy of the out of print edition. Please let me know what the progress is on the new Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang: Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand in Gold for Every Emergency. Thank you!


Thank you so much for your interest, and I am glad you contacted me.

The book that you owned originally is presumably my translation of Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang, volumes 2-4 on gynecology? This book was pulled out of production because I realized a year or two after publication that the publisher of that book had made a number of considerable changes to the text that I had not been informed of and that I had definitely not approved, which introduced errors of grave potential clinical significance in the book. I regained copyrights and pulled the book off the market. You are correct that it is my intention (and yes, has been for far too long now, I admit!) to republish the book in a revised edition, and it is very much still my plan. It's just that every time I get ready to take on this project, another book project takes over and requires my immediate attention. I simply have to prioritize my time and decided, for example, that the Divine Farmer's Classic of Materia Medica (Shennong Bencao Jing) is a more important text to publish first. And then I did a translation of what I consider the key chapter in the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen (Yellow Emperor's INner Classic, Plain Questions), published this year as "Humming with Elephants." And now I am working on a gynecology text finally once again, but rather than republish Sun Simiao's writings, I have decided to take on a Song dynasty textbook called the "Hundred Questions in Gynecology." So I am very sorry to disappoint you and have to tell you that no, I have not found the time to undertake a revision of the Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang, volumes 2-4 on gynecology at this point.

I did publish the volumes on pediatrics (vol 5 or vols. 5 and 6, depending on the edition), which you can buy, if you don't have these already, as Venerating the Root, Parts One and Two. More information on each volume is found in the online store listings for the separate volumes.

I would like to ask you not to buy a replacement copy of the book published originally by The Chinese Medicine Database because it does contain too many errors and misrepresentations of my work, and of Sun Simiao's original text. And by the way, any new copy you might see on the internet is an illegal pirated copy because I regained copyright and am no longer printing this book, for the reasons outlined above. No legal new copies of this book exist. I hope this makes sense to you. If you or any of your students have specific questions, a number of translated excerpts of Sun Simiao's writings are found in the "Resources" section of my website, especially in the page on gynecology.

Also, if you have students who need more guidance or access to additional unpublished materials, you may want to encourage them to check out my offerings in my Imperial Mentorship program. I do have a number of gynecology-related translations in the members-only section of that website and also offer the option as part of the membership that students can ask specific research questions that I will then answer quickly if appropriate, or turn into a lengthier blog post, again on the members section of the website.

Again, I am really sorry that I cannot give you a better answer at this point. I will publish my current translation project as a series of 2-4 volumes on gynecology, with the first one expected within 3 months or so. And this will a more clinically useful text with wonderful essays and theoretical explanations, instead of just a collection of formulas. So pretty soon at least I will be able to offer you a publication on classical gynecology. But for right now, all I have is unpublished excerpts and the offer to do specific research for students or practitioners who want more information.

Sabine WilmsComment