Venerate The Root!
A mini-version of Sun Simiao’s Qian Jin Fang chapter 5
(composed by Peter Firebrace as a foreword to Venerating the Root, Part 1)
Venerate the root! says Sun Simiao
Women and children first, that’s my kind of dao!
Follow the art of yang xiao, nurturing the small
Get the beginnings right, so they stand up straight and tall!
Yes, ten months have passed since the moment of conception
But life’s still fragile at its inception
Take good care now! Pay more attention, not less!
Nurture the young to avoid untimely death!
The Yijing, the Shijing, they all say the same thing!
There’s nothing more important than getting off to a good start
Treatment of children is an essential part of a doctor’s art!
In the small child the force of qi is still feeble
But you can help it along with herbs, moxibustion and needles!
So I’ve been listening, I’ve been gathering, collecting all the wisdom I can!
And I’ve set it all down to share with you
Theory, diagnostics, advice, effective treatments too
To help that little baby become a healthy woman or healthy man!
Normal development unfolds through bian zheng, transformation and steaming
That gets the qi and blood growing, flowing, thriving and streaming!
This steaming heat and transforming rising qi
Come in definite phases, so let them be!
Keep the baby calm and rested, not a lot of people crowding around
Stay with them and observe them, that’s how the answers can be found!
I’ll tell you what’s normal, I’ll tell you what’s not
Heat’s OK, but not if the ears and buttocks are hot!
Then I’ll give you the treatments you need to use
To bring them back to health, so the child you don’t lose!
By the newborn’s 288th day
Nine transformations and four steamings will have passed their way
For unresolved heat and phlegm, remember the Purple Pill, Zi Wan!
And in seasonal warmth complications, use the Black Powder, Hei San!
But don’t be reckless with acupuncture, moxibustion or medicinals
Understand what’s a normal process and what’s pathological!
Directly after birth, keep the baby’s mouth and tongue clean
Carefully wipe away any muck and blood to be seen
Check the newborn’s not silent, take care cutting the cord
Cold, wind and dirt getting in, they can ill afford!
Take care of their delicate skin, when you’re wrapping and swaddling
But expose them to mild, warm weather too!
They won’t withstand wind and cold with too much molly-coddling
Their future health is down to you!
Wrap the umbilicus properly and ensure that it’s healing
Follow my advice if it’s infected, swollen or oozing!
From bathing to breast feeding, under or overeating
The child needs to be nurtured and protected
In thrush, connected tongue, sudden neonatal death and abscesses
There are treatments if the child’s been affected
For diagnosis and prognosis, even its character and how long the baby will live
There are numerous tell-tale signs that the body gives!
Study jing seizures from fright, wind and food
Know when and when not to treat, how to get qi and blood renewed!
Avoid causing problems with inappropriate medicines or doses
Each have their sign and symptom picture, each have their own process!
Differentiate the five organ types, the six animal types, the time of day
Use moxibustion or a Gentian Decoction, a Rhubarb Decoction, maybe a Cinnamon Twig Decoction to get health back on its way!
Young children are sensitive, even vulnerable on occasion
In danger from the qi of strangers, from alien qi invasion
This is the pattern of intrusive upset ke wu
And it’s important to know just what to do!
They get overwhelmed by ‘visiting hostility’
And in this danger from strangers lose their self-protective ability!
Guard against exposure, keep them safe from intrusion!
Learn the moxibustion points, the spells, the herbal infusions!
To treat night crying and demonic possession, use shamanic solutions!
Children are the future, the roots that will be fruits
Take good care of them, like delicate flowers and shoots!
Understand their nature and treat them right
And the future that’s unfolding will be strong and clear and bright!
Peter Firebrace 8th December 2013
SSM understood the importance of treating children, of setting up a strong constitution for a healthy life ahead. He also writes of not treating, of understanding and respecting the body’s own wisdom to clear and cleanse through its own unfolding processes, such as in the early childhood cycles of transformation and steaming, bian zheng. This refreshing respect for the innate intelligence of emerging life, his constant attention to detail in signs and symptoms, diagnostics, treatment strategies and health advice, his interest in the personality of the child and indications for longevity, his care to protect and at the same time not over-protect, and his awareness of the all too real possibility of harm from crude and inappropriate treatments, all these are aspects we can learn from today. I hope that Sabine’s great work to make SSM’s perspective and teaching accessible to all will encourage and stimulate practitioners to deepen their own practice of pediatrics. For a healthy future, there can be no more important study.