The Tang Era: Cultural Diversity, Conceptual Vacuum

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
The Tang Era: Cultural Diversity, Conceptual Vacuum

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This chapter focuses on the emergence of pharmaceutical drugs in China. The drugs from the rest of the world came via long trade routes to China and a pharmaceutical book for the first time was compiled at the request of a government and published in 659. It listed 850 individual drugs and many of them were from distant lands. One of the drugs, theriac, once developed by Mithridates as protection against poisoning and, in changing compositions, played an important role in European pharmacy until the nineteenth century. Indians and Nestorians from Persia also came and introduced eye treatments hitherto unknown in China, among them the cataract operation. Sun Simiao, perhaps the most influential Chinese physician and author of all time, focused on the Indian Ayurveda and the humors doctrine of the distant Mediterranean in his writings. Buddhist ideas were also familiar to him. He had collected thousands of prescriptions for all possible illnesses and the prescriptions were obviously effective.

Keywords: pharmaceutical drugs; theriac; European pharmacy; eye treatments; Indian Ayurveda; humors doctrine

Chapter.  993 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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