Top 10 classics on traditional Chinese medicine

By Xu Lin
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 Compendium of Materia Medica (《本草纲目》)


Compendium of Materia Medica, one of the 'top 10 classics on traditional Chinese medicine' by

Bencao Gangmu (Compendium of Materia Medica)

Compendium of Materia Medica (Pinyin: Bencao Gangmu) is a Chinese medicine work written by Li Shizhen in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is regarded as the most complete and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of TCM, as well as the one contributing the most to the pharmacy in the Ming Dynasty.

Composed of 52 volumes with over 1.9 million characters, the book includes 1,892 kinds of medicaments, 11,096 pieces of prescriptions and 1,160 illustrations. It lists all the plants, animals, minerals, and other items that were believed to have medicinal properties.

Based on the previous achievements on materia medica, Li completed and published the book in 1590 after conducting researches of 800 other medical reference books and carrying out field study for a few dozens of years. The book corrected many mistakes and misapprehensions of the nature of herbs and diseases, improved the classification of how traditional medicine was compiled and formatted, mentioned the ideas of advanced biology evolution, and reflected the rich experience of clinical practices.

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