Six Divisions Theory

The Chinese for this term literaly means the 6 channels, the same charcter as is used for the channels of acupuncture, but is normally translated differently in this context so as not to confuse. The character jing is also translated as ‘classic’ in relation to books. It denotes a thread or network connecting things together through time or space.

This is one of the many ways to categorize and analyse disease progression and helps to determine treatment. This particular theory was developed by Zhang Zhongjing and is detailed in the Shang Han Lun, (Discussion of cold damage) which dates from around 200AD.

The theory defines stages of diseases in order to determine proper treatment for the patient at each stage. Each is described as a syndrome with specific methods of treatment. Please note that a disease may not necessarily progress in the order below. Often a disease involves two channels at one time and/or skips a stage all together.

Sometimes interior and exterior are mixed, involving both the channel and the organ. The practitioner needs to be flexible in their thinking, and remember bodies are dynamic things. A whole other book called the Jin Gui Yao Lue (prescriptions from the golden cabinet) also by Zhang Zhongjing describes these more complicated mixed patterns.

The treatise on Cold damage

The term cold damage confusingly refers to both a specific cause of disease- cold, and also in other contexts all climactic factors. A line in the Huang Di Neijing (Yellow emperors classic of internal medicine) says that cold damage includes cold, wind, dampness, dryness, heat and summerheat, but that the worst of these is cold.

So although in this diagnostic theory cold is seen as the prime cause of disease, it is not limited to only treating cold conditions.

The Six divisions

Taiyang syndromes are the most external and constitute acute febrile conditions.

Yangming conditions are characterised by big fever, big pulse, big sweat, and big thirst and constitute a progression of the disease, which still remains external, in the yang.

Shaoyang conditions are ‘half exterior, half interior’ and are characterised by symptoms that come and go, chills and fever alternating or separated, and one sided symptoms.

Taiyin Conditions are internal and charcterised by cold, wasting, and low energy

Shaoyin conditions are deeper and more severe, functional processes are breaking down and the person is very weak.

Jueyin conditions are at the deepest level and symptoms start to become stronger again and heat is seen in some of the manifestations. The disorder is here affecting the blood, there is still potential for cure but it may also be very serious.

Prescriptions of the Golden Cabinet

In another treatise by Zhang Zhong Jing, the Jin Gui Yao Lue how to treat combinations of the above syndromes is broken down and discussed in detail.