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What Is Medicine?Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing$
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Paul Unschuld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257658

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257658.001.0001

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The Tang Era: Cultural Diversity, Conceptual Vacuum

The Tang Era: Cultural Diversity, Conceptual Vacuum

43 The Tang Era: Cultural Diversity, Conceptual Vacuum
What Is Medicine?

Paul U. Unschuld

University of California Press

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

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