Ancient Chinese Cures found on Bamboo Strips
Archaeologists have found more than 900 bamboo strips at a construction site in the south-western city of Chengdu in China, which reveal recipes for treating ailments that date back around 2000 years. The discovery provides new insight into the methods used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The bamboo strips, which were once widely used as a writing material, were reportedly found along with other relics of the Western Han Dynasty, which came to power in 260 BC. The suggested treatments include using a chilli-like fruit for headaches and bull’s urine for jaundice.
Some of the 920 texts which were found are believed to have served as a manual for horse vets, while others are specifically related to human illnesses.
Xie Tao of Chengdu's archaeology institute says they could be lost medical classics written by the successors of Bian Que, reputed to be China's earliest known physician. According to legend recorded in the Records of the Grand Historian, Bian Que was gifted with remarkable abilities from a deity. The story states that he was given a packet of medicine which gave him the ability to see through the human body. He thereby became an excellent diagnostician with his x-ray like ability. It is said that he pioneered pulse-taking, used anaesthesia and even performed an organ transplant.
Ancient Chinese Medicine has been around for thousands of years, and although the first recorded history of therapeutic activities dates back to the Shang dynasty (14 th – 11 th centuries BC), it is believed to go back at least 5,000 years.
According to Chinese mythology, the origins of traditional Chinese medicine can be traced back to three legendary emperors: Fu Xi, Shen Nong and Huang Di. One of the mythical rulers, Shen Nong, who lived 5000 years ago, is hailed as the "Divine Cultivator" by the Chinese people because he is attributed as the founder of herbal medicine and taught people how to farm. In order to determine the nature of different herbal medicines, Shen Nong sampled various kinds of plants, ingesting them himself to test their individual effects. According to the ancient texts, Shen Nong tasted a hundred herbs including 70 toxic substances in a single day, in order to get rid of people's pain form illness. As there were no written records, it is said that the discoveries of Shen Nong was passed down verbally from generation to generation.