Treatise on Material Medica


Zheng zhi ben cao (Treatise on materia medica) was compiled by Lu Zhizhu, a native of Tongcheng, Anhui Province, and edited and printed by Ruan Zisong. According to the compiler’s preface and a postscript in the work, Lu Zhizhu, although clever and versatile, was unsuccessful as a candidate for the imperial examinations. He gave up his previous studies, devoted himself to medicine, and became known for his deep knowledge and effective treatments. He eventually became a famed court physician. This work in 14 juan was compiled by Lu, based on the many medical works he consulted and studied. Arranged by category, the work discusses diseases, treatments, and prescriptions, and it describes the curative properties of plants, vegetables, fruits, grains, animals, insects, fish, metals, and stones. In one of the volumes, Lu expounded on the five inner organs (heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and kidneys) and the six excesses, the climatic external pathogenic factors believed to be the cause of diseases (wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness, and fire). Also discussed are the main features of medicines and where and when to collect these medicinal materials. The work was first printed during the Jiajing reign (1522–66). This is a later edition printed during the Longqing reign (1567–72). The editor, Ruan Zisong, received the title of jin shi (doctoral degree) in the 35th year of the Jiangjing reign (1556), and later became an official at the Bureau of Justice. Lu’s preface, Ruan’s foreword, and the postscript by physician Qian Yuanshan all are dated 1571, the probable date of publication.


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Ruan, Zisong


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14 juan, 8 volumes

Last updated: March 12, 2015