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Chinese Pharmacopoeia

Medicinal substances

Ancient Chinese book of pharmacopoeia

The Chinese pharmacopoeia refers to all the medicinal substances used in Chinese medicine. It is without doubt one of the richest pharmacopoeias in the world. It includes several thousand substances, mainly from plants, but also from minerals, animal parts and fungi. For this reason, the term pharmacopoeia is more appropriate than the term phytotherapy, as the latter is limited to treatment with plants.

In China, pharmacopoeia is the most commonly used and central method of treatment, as compared to external treatments such as acupuncture, tuina or cupping, which are more secondary.

An ancient tradition, it may well have been discovered in kitchens thousands of years ago. According to a Chinese saying, "medicine and food come from the same source". Dietetics and phytotherapy developed from the daily experience of food and plants, and from the proximity of the ancient Chinese to nature and its many treasures.

This long process of experimentation gave rise to numerous books and rigorous descriptions of foods and medicinal plants, classified according to their flavor (bitter, sweet, pungent, salty and sour), their nature (hot, warm, neutral, fresh, cold), the movement they produce in the body (descending, ascending, internalising and externalising), their affinity with organs and meridians, and their therapeutic effect.

The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Divine Farmer's Classic of Materia Medica), compiled around the year 200, is the oldest monographic work on Chinese pharmacopoeia, describing some 400 medicinal plants.

Chinese medical tradition is also rich in hundreds of thousands of formulas, tried and tested by generations of doctors. These formulas form a basis that practitioners then adapt to the specific case of each patient. The formulas in the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Injury), dating from around 220, are still used today.

Some indications of pathologies:

Digestive : diarrhoea, colitis, constipation, etc.

Respiratory : cough, asthma, bronchitis, etc.

Cardiovascular : angina, palpitations, hypertension, etc.

Osteo-articular : tendinitis, sprain, rheumatism, etc.

Dermatological : eczema, acne, pruritus, psoriasis, etc.

Gynaecological : menopause, dysmenorrhea, infertility, etc.

Andrological : impotence, loss of libido, etc.

Urinary : cystitis, incontinence, etc.

Emotional : stress, anxiety, insomnia, etc.

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