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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 40-45

Searching for chinese medicinal plants in greek classical medicine: A first approach

The Huntington, San Marino, CA; Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions, Washington, DC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Emanuela Appetiti
Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions, Washington, DC
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_7_18

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This article examines the presence and uses of plants attested in the Chinese medical tradition in the materia medica literature of classical antiquity. It is based on the consultation of the major ancient compilations on materia medica of Chinese medicine and classical antiquity, specifically Bencao Gangmu by Li Shizhen (16th cent.) and De materia medica by Dioscorides (1st cent. A.D.). The article is divided in three major parts: the identification of plants used in the Chinese medical tradition in the medicine of the Mediterranean World in Antiquity; the analysis of the knowledge of these plants and their origin in classical antiquity; a comparison of the uses of these plants in the Bencao Gangmu and De materia medica. It traces the presence of plants of the Chinese medical tradition in Classical antiquity. Although their exact origin was not known, they were reputed at that time to be native to either India or the Black Sea, two areas that correspond to the ending points of the Silk Road. As for their uses in both traditions, they correspond for some plants, whereas they do not for others because either the uses attested in the Chinese tradition were not preserved on the Mediterranean or different uses appeared in the Mediterranean tradition. These differentiated uses hint at both continuities and ruptures, with the latter resulting from the long journey of the plants from the Chinese World to the Mediterranean and, at the same time, attempts aimed to diversify and optimize the applications of non-native medicinal substances.

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