Chinese Medicine History
Li Shih-Chen [Li Shizhen]
Li Shizhen of Chai Zhou in Hubei province, is considered to have been China's greatest naturalist. He was very interested in the proper classification of the components of nature. His major contribution to medicine was the forty year project of sifting through the vast array of herbal lore and writing down the information that was, in his view, a reliable reflection of reality. His book, the "Bencao Gang Mu; 1596", has been used as a pharmacopoeia, but it was also treatise on botany, zoology, mineralogy and metallurgy. The book was reprinted frequently and five of the original edition still exist. A rough translation of the herb entries was published in English by two British doctors (Porter and Smith) who were working in China at the end of the 19th century, though extracts of it had been published in Europe since 1656. "Ben Cao Gang Mu" contains 1892 different herbs, and is divided into 6 sections, 52 scrolls and 60 different categories.
Li Shizhen a great scientist risked his life numerous time as he researched the life and habitat of Chai snakes, who at the time were considered a precious medicine. He then also published the "Chai Snake Compilation".
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