Drugs and Ancient China

Drug Histories
Drug Histories
Drugs and Ancient China
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It is said that until the time of the European renaissance (14th to 16th century AD), the medicine of Asia was the world’s most advanced. The main branches — Chinese, Indian (Ayurveda), Arabic (Unani) and Persian — gave rise to a large share of the medical learning that formed the foundation of modern European medicine. Chinese medical concepts had a profound influence on its near and far neighbours: Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and Persia (thereby penetrating also into the Arab World). Reciprocal influences occurred also between China and India.[1]

China has therefore made significant contributions to the world growth of the medical sciences[2] in the fields of pharmacology, physiology (such as endocrinology), clinical medicine, public health, medical colleges (including medical education and examination systems), the registration of physicians, acupuncture, moxibustion, and many others.[3]

In this episode we get a quick overview of drugs in the context of Chinese society and culture. We start off with an overview of the significance of Chinese Medicine; then trace its development through history as outlined in various reference sources. We outline the role of drug therapy, obtained from different natural sources, in traditional Chinese medicine. We also look at some key resources and conclude with some recent examples of drug-related challenges within Chinese society.

Patron can head over to our Patreon page for a full-text, 4-page PDF version of this podcast, complete with the reference sources used in its preparation. You can also subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify in order not to miss future episodes. The links are immediately under the audio player above.


[1] https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/suppl/10.1142/3152/suppl_file/3152_chap01.pdf

[2] A Brief History of Chinese Medicine and Its Influence, 2nd Edition, https://doi.org/10.1142/3152 | April 1997, P Y Ho (The Needham Research Institute, UK) and F P Lisowski (University of Tasmania, Australia)

[3] https://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/3152

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