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The History Of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine has a long history in East Asia. The use of Chinese herbs probably originated not long after fire was invented and people started cooking. This knowledge later developed into one of the most sophisticated and unbroken herbal medical traditions of the world.

The use of herbs as a medicine has a long history worldwide, but unlike in East Asia, many have been broken or never fully matured into complete systems of healthcare.

The earliest known Chinese herbal textbook is a list of prescriptions for specific ailments, found in the Mawangdui tombs in China, which was sealed in 168 BC. Traditionally the oldest materia medica is Shénnóng Ben Cao Jing (Shennong's Materia Medica). It classifies 365 species of roots, grass, woods, furs, animals and stones into three categories of herbal medicine:

Today, food is still used as the first line of medicine in East Asia where different herbs are added to cuisine for their health benefits. If this first line of medicine fails, then people seek a Chinese herbalist for a herbal medical prescription.