Prescriptions in the Bencao Gangmu

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By Tom Ehrman

The Běncăo Gāngmù (Compendium of Materia Medica) of Lǐ Shízhēn (1518-1593), first published in 1596, three years after Lǐ’s death, needs little introduction to anyone familiar with Chinese medicine, or Chinese culture generally. Joseph Needham, the sinologist, author and editor of the multi-volume Science and Civilization in China, called it “undoubtedly the greatest scientific achievement of the Ming”, and its author “the uncrowned king of Chinese naturalists”.

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