The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica

A Translation of the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing

  • Verlag: Blue Poppy Press
  • ISBN: 9780936185965
  • 1998, 205 pages


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The Shen Nong Ben Cao is the first known materia medica to have been published in China, said to have been written by the legendary Shen Nong, the Divine Farmer or Divine Peasant. As the oldest record of Chinese medicinals used in China, it includes a wealth of historical information about early descriptions and usages of approximately 300 Chinese medicinals, categorized by animal, vegetable, or mineral nature, not by their actions or the types of conditions they treat. Common uses for each medicinal may vary greatly from modern usage and for that reason this reference provides much food for thought for modern practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine.

The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica Classic) is one of the three foundation books of Chinese medicine. The Nei Jing (Inner Classic) established the theoretical foundations of Chinese medicine and especially acupuncture and moxibustion. The Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing laid the foundation for the study of Chinese medicinals. While the Shang Han Lun/ Jin Gui Yao Lue (Treatise on Damage [Due to] Cold Essentials of the Golden Cabinet) is the locus classicus for Chinese formulas and prescriptions and treatment based on pattern discrimination. Translations of the Nei Jing and Shang Han Lun Jin Gui Yao Lue have long existed in English. However, until now, no translation of the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing has been available in English.

Published as part of Blue Poppy’s Great Masters Series, now all serious students and practitioners of Chinese medicine can have access to all of the three pillars of Chinese medicine. This is the material medica from which all others have been derived. If you have any interest in the historical roots of Chinese medicine and in particular in the Taoist contribution to Chinese medicine, you must own a copy of the preeminent classic.