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History of Chinese Medicines

The Chinese have cultivated and used many kinds of herbs, fruits, and animal products that are uncommon in the West for health and healing. This is partly because different plants and animals live in East Asia.

Chinese natural pharmacology has a long history. The earliest pharmacological texts can be dated to about 150 BC, but the most influential text are from the Ming Dynasty era.

The Treatise on Cold Injuries  is credited to Zhang Zhongjing and was published about the year 220 at the end of the Han Dynasty era (206 BC-220 AD).

It is the first known treatise on traditional drug and herbal medicine in the region. What is interesting is that the substances’ effects on the qi and Yin and Yang balances can be observed in practice by Chinese practitioners nowadays.

The Bencao Gangmu by Li Shizhen (1518–1593) is the most important traditional work on herbs and drugs. It was written in the middle of the Ming Dynasty era (1368-1644). The Bencao Gangmu was very important because of it’s detail accounts and recommendations on pharmacological use.

The Bencao Gangmu also refer to as Materia Medica, classified and described hundreds of herbs, medicinal minerals and medicinal animal parts. It is considered the greatest scientific achievement of the Ming era.