Huangdi Neijing - 黃帝內經
The Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon

Huang Di Nei Jing, Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon contains two parts: the Su Wen, Basic Questions and Ling Shu or Spiritual Pivot each with 81 chapters.

Huangdi Nei Jing was first mentioned in the Han Shu 漢書 or Book of Han (111CE). The texts are generally dated by scholars between the late Warring States Period (475-221BC to the early Han (206-220CE). Su Wen is dated by Needham and Lu to the 2nd century BCE. Sivin argues that they are most likely from the 1st century BCE. Unschuld is supported by many other scholars in his arguments that the language and ideas of the Suwen date is between 400BCE and 260CE.

Scholars of excavated medical texts, Donald Harper, Vivienne Lo and Li Jianmin, agree that the systematic medical theory in the Neijing shows significant variance from texts found in the Mawangdui tomb (which was closed in 186 BCE). Because of this, they consider the Neijing to have been compiled after the Mawangdui texts

Huangdi Neijing is also used as a prefix for the Ming Tang (Hall of Light) and the Taisu (Grand Basis).

su wen - the basic (simple) questions
Huangdi Neijing Suwen - 黃帝內經素問

Unschuld’s translation project for the Su Wen come in four volumes. The 1st covers the history and background of the text, the 4th is a dictionary and the 2nd and 3rd volumes are the translation itself. Volume I can be considered the best resource for the history of the Su Wen and for a history of the versions of the text.


Unschuld, Paul, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen, Berkeley, University of Berkley Press

Unschuld, Paul, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: An Annotated Translation of Huang Di's Inner Classic - Basic Questions, 2 volumes, Volumes of the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen Project. Berkeley, University of Berkley Press, 2011

Unschuld, Paul, Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text, Berkeley, University of Berkley Press, 2003.

ling shu - the spiritual pivot
Huangdi Neijing Lingshu - 黃帝內經靈樞

The Ling Shu is the second part of the Huangdi Neijing. The editions of Lingshu that we have today are all based on Shi Song’s edition from 1155, all versions prior to the 12th century have been lost.


No recommended translation.

Available translations in English:

Wu, Jing-Nuan, Ling Shu, or, the Spiritual Pivot Asian Spirituality, Taoist Studies Series, University of Hawaii Press, 2002.

Some sections translated in:

Larre, Claude and Rochat, Elisabeth, The Heart. Monkey Press, 1991.

other translations for the neijing

Veith, Ilza, trans, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, University of California Press: 2002. (First edition 1949)

Larre, Claude, Way of Heaven, London: Monkey Press. 1996.

Li, Zhaoguo, trans. Library of Chinese Classics: Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Medicine Plain Conversation, Shi Jie Tu Shu Chu Ban, Xian Gong Si, 2005.

(A three volume text translated into English from modern Chinese)

Zhu, Ming, trans. Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2001.

(translation of the main textbook on the subject currently used in modern TCM schools in China)

Lu, Henry, A Complete Translation of The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine and the Difficult Classic, Vancouver: International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Vancouver, rev. 1978 edition

(He also offers here › the original Chinese with numbered passages to compare to the English translation)

Kong, Y.C., trans., Huangdi Neijing/A Synopsis with Commentaries, Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2010.

(A translation of Li Zhong-zi’s Neijing Zhiyao, focused on eight chapters of the original text, focused on the Suwen.)

Sivin, Nathan. Loewe, Michael ed. Huang ti nei ching 黃帝內經 in Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical Guide, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993: 196-215.

Nghi, Nguyen Van, Dzung, Tran Viet, and Recours-Nguyen, Christine, trans. Huang Di Nei Jing Ling Shu, translated from French by Garbacz, Edward, Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine, 2002.

(Link to the downloadable version to the right)

Komjathy, Louis trans. Yellow Thearch’s Basic Questions.

Ming, Zhu, trans. The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 2001.

Wu, Nelson Lianshen and Wu, Andrew Qi, trans. Yellow Emperor's Canon of Internal Medicine. Beijing: China Science & Technology Press, 1999.

Wilms, Sabine trans. The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Vol. I, The Chinese Medicine Database, 2010.

(Translations of sections of the text; contains select chapters from Neijing and Nanjing).

online resources

For the Original Chinese text ›

The Suwen and the Lingshu from the Chinese Text Project.

A page with the original text in traditional characters and the older Big5 encoding.

Other Resources

·  Neijing Zhiyao / The Single Idea in the Mind of the Yellow Emperor, by Richard Bertschinger, L. Ac., who is a long time translator of Taoist texts.
The Neijing Zhiyao is a compilation of eight chapters of the Neijing by Li Zhong-zi, published in 1642. It was designed as a clinically oriented text to teach essential diagnostic skills to practitioners of Chinese medicine.
Richard Bertschinger sells this work as an e-book at : ›

·  A review of Henry Lu’s translation : ›