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Metal Injury Combined with Latent Pathogen: a Chinese Medicine Die Da Case Study by Hal Asbury

This very interesting Chinese medicine case study by martial artist and Chinese medical practitioner Hal Asbury combines a Die Da injury and infection with the presence of a latent pathogen. The case deftly illustrates traditional Chinese medicine’s great strength in treating seemingly mysterious symptoms effectively and efficiently.

                   Hal Asbury

My good friend and colleague in the Chinese medicine and martial arts worlds Hal Asbury and I often discuss martial arts training and Chinese medicine cases. Hal is very skilled martial artist who trained in injury medicine (Die Da), which he learned as part of his Gong Fu training with his Hung Ga teacher Frank Yee. Hal is an instructor of Hung Ga, Xing Yi Quan and Ba Gua Zhang. Hal later went onto become a licensed practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. He teaches Chinese medicine at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and has compiled and translated two books on Chinese medicine: Pronunciation of Chinese Medicine Terms in Mandarin and Cantonese and Master Gong’s Single Herb Verses: 400 Single Herbs Essential Information.

Hal graciously allowed us to publish his case study on our website so that others could learn from his experience and outside-the-box reasoning in his very successful treatment of a seemingly mysterious medical problem.

What follows is Hal’s description of the case with minimal editing on our part.

The Case:

The patient, while working out at a local gym, put his foot up on a bar. While tying his shoe, his foot slipped off and he scraped his shin on the bar. After scabbing over, at some point, the area began to become red and swollen. He began to run a fever, and he noticed red streaks going up the leg. He went to the emergency room and received medication. The symptoms then abated.

Since that time, it has been quite a few years. Every couple of years, when the weather is hottest, he would notice itching where the injury used to be. Later it would begin to show some slight swelling and if he waited, the area would swell up more and redden. Courses of antibiotics usually worked to quell the situation, but he had been through this several times and there was a catch: each time he would notice when the symptoms began, but no one would treat it until it began to get pretty serious. He asked me if I thought I could do something, because it was that time of year, and he felt it coming on. I agreed to try to deal with it.


The pulse was pounding, strong and fast.

Compared with the non-symptomatic leg, the affected side was slightly swollen. Tongue was redder than I’d expect.


Injury by metal. I thought this was remarkably similar sounding to wounds from spears that I had read about in Bob Flaws’ translation Secret Shaolin Formulas for the Treatment of External Injury (Blue Poppy Press ©1995). There were clear signs of heat, and if the pattern repeated itself, there would be evident infection. I reasoned that there was possibly a latent pathogen that would only express itself seasonally, when heat built up in the outside world.


Because the original infection reached a stage roughly corresponding to sepsis/”blood poisoning”, I decided to try a treatment plan I had once seen in Tin Yau So’s acupuncture book for “furuncle, blood poisoning and septicemia” because the original problem presented that way:

  1. Needle GV-10 indicated for furuncles, clears heat from the blood, and GV-12, which is indicated for furuncles
  2. Needle LI-4, which resolves the exterior and LI-11 to resolve the exterior and cools pathogenic heat, and draw a few drops of blood from PC-9 to eliminate heat and clear the heart
  3. Needle to SP-10 to cool heat and regulates blood, and UB-40, to clear blood heat

I then selected the “Yang Family Spear Wound Powder” from Secret Shaolin Formulas for the Treatment of External Injury, as this was injury seemed to be caused by a dirty piece of metal:

Yang Family Spear Wound Powder: Ingredients

She Xiang 1.5g

Er Cha 60g

Mo Yao 30g

Ma Deng Cao 30g

Bai Ji 30g

Xue Jie 24g

Tao Ren 30g

Chi Shao 30g

Gan Cao 15 g

Zhu Sha 30 g

She Xiang is indicated for boils, furuncle and carbuncles, invigorates blood circulation

Er Cha eliminates pathogenic heat

Mo Yao (vinegar processed) indicated for traumatic pain and swelling, promotes wound healing

Ma Deng Cao enlivens the blood and transforms stasis, stops bleeding, resolves toxicity (I had to look this up in a Chinese Two Volume Materia Medica)

Bai Ji is indicated for wounds and suppurative infections

Xue Jie is indicated for traumatic wounds and bleeding, relieves pain, promotes wound healing

Tao Ren invigorates blood circulation and relieves blood stasis pain

Chi Shao is indicated for redness and swelling, clears pathogenic heat

Gan Cao clears pathogenic heat and detoxifies, helps other herbs work together, indicated for boils and carbuncles

Zhu Sha – This is probably included as a way of using “use toxin to treat toxin.” Zhu Sha Clears Heat, relieves toxicity and prevents putrefaction .

However I couldn’t get the herb store to give me Zhu Sha, so I left it out of the formula.

The Yang Family Spear Wound Powder was applied externally several times.


After the above treatments, the problem abated and for the last three years, the patient has not had the problem recur.