you are a patient of Traditional Chinese Medicine, you probably take
home a paper bag containing dried Chinese herbs after your treatments.
In your formula you discover plant elements—leaf, stem, flower, root or
seed—and perhaps minerals or other natural ingredients. Have you ever
wondered where the knowledge came from that your doctor uses to create
The art of combining medicinal herbs began thousands of years before the
Christian era. Shennong, whose name means “the Divine Farmer,” lived
around 5,000 years ago and was renowned for teaching China the practice
of agriculture. He taught people how to cultivate grains as food and is
said to have tasted hundreds of herbs to test their medicinal
properties. The Divine Farmer’s Herb-Root Classic, first compiled around
206 B.C., lists various medical herbs, such as the reishi mushroom.
Considered the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeia, this work contained 365
From 206 B.C. to the late 16th century, new herbal medicines were added
to what has become the book of Chinese herbal medicines, Materia Medica,
bringing the total to 1,892 distinct herbs and 10,000 formulas. Over the
years, many Chinese physicians have made new discoveries, theories and
classifications, often writing or compiling books that have become
classics of Chinese medical literature that are still referenced today.
New data is continually being added.
In 2009, traditional Chinese medical students learn about herbology from
a Materia Medica that is 8.5 inches wide, 11 inches long, 2 1/2 inches
thick and weighs 8 pounds. Because of a 5,000-year history, your
acupuncturist can make an herbal prescription that can help you feel
better! Now consider that the United States is officially 233 years old!