Augmented Materia Medica


This work was compiled in 1116 by Kou Zongshi (flourished 1111–17), an official in charge of purveying and examining medicinal materials. According to a later preface by Lu Xinyuan, dated 1877, Kou also served as an official responsible for military provisions and supplies in various places and became a revenue manager. Kou Zongshi found mistakes and gaps in the works by Liu Yuxi, the author of Jiayou bu zhu ben cao (Supplementary comments to materia medica printed in the Jiayou reign), and Tang Shenwei, author of Jing shi zheng lei ben cao (Classic classified materia medica). Kou Zongshi thought that these mistakes had caused confusion among students. He spent more than ten years on this work, studying various schools of medicine and drawing upon his own experience, to provide a correct treatment of the subject. During the Song dynasty, two works by Kou Zongshi, Ben cao yan yi (Augmented materia medica) and Jing shi zheng lei ben cao (Classified and practical basic pharmacopeia based on historical classics) were published separately. During the Jin dynasty, Zhang Cunhui combined the two works. Ming printers also combined the works, and the separate editions became less used. Ben cao yan yi is similar in structure to Liu Yuxi’s book. The first three juan contain the table of contents and the preface, and discuss the origin of materia medica, the five tastes and five smells, ways to maintain health, eight essentials of cures, quantities of medicine, techniques of compounding medicine, and the storage and use of medicine. Also included are several case studies. Juan 4–20 introduce 470 kinds of medicines, with their names and characteristics, places where source plants grow, seasons for growing, how to separate real from the fake source plants, their uses for different kinds of diseases, methods of taking the medicines, and how to avoid potentially poisonous effects. The entries are of different length, some simple and others quite long. This copy, a Yuan edition based on a Song edition of 1119, is a very rare example of the extant copies. More than ten seal impressions appear in this copy, including those of the Japanese physician Mori Yochiku (1807–85), Yang Shoujing (1839–1915), and the Feiqingge Collection.

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20 juan, 5 volumes ; 20.5 x 14.5 centimeters


  • Only preface, table of contents and partial text of juan 1 are included in the WDL presentation.

Last updated: March 12, 2015