Shennong Ben Cao Jing

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Shennong Bencaojing (also Classic of the Materia Medica or Shen-nong's Herbal Classics[1] and Shen-nung Pen-tsao Ching; simplified Chinese: 神农本草经; traditional Chinese: 神農本草經; pinyin: Shénnóng Běncǎo Jīng; Wade–Giles: Shen2-nung2 Pen3-ts'ao3 Ching1) is a Chinese book on agriculture and medicinal plants, traditionally attributed to Shennong. Researchers believe the text is a compilation of oral traditions, written between about 206 BC and 220 AD.[2][1][3] The original text no longer exists, but is said to have been composed of three volumes containing 365 entries on medicaments and their description.


The first volume of the treatise included 120 drugs harmless to humans, the "stimulating properties": lingzhi,[1] ginseng, jujube, the orange, Chinese cinnamon, Eucommia bark, cannabis, or the root of liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis). These herbs are described as "noble" or "upper herbs" (上品).

The second volume is devoted to 120 therapeutic substances intended to treat the sick, but have toxic, or potentially toxic properties of varying degrees. In this category are ginger, peonies and cucumber. The substances of this group are described as "human", "commoner", or "middle herbs" (中品).

In the last volume there are 125 entries corresponding to substances which have a strong or violent action on physiological functions and are often poisonous. Rhubarb, different pitted fruits and peaches are among those featured. These herbs are referred to as "low herbs" (下品).

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  1. ^ a b c Wachtel-Galor, Sissi; Yuen, John; Buswell, John A.; Benzie, Iris F. F. (2011). Benzie, Iris F. F.; Wachtel-Galor, Sissi (eds.). Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.). Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-4398-0713-2. PMID 22593926. The first book wholly devoted to the description of herbs and their medicinal value was Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, written in the Eastern Han dynasty of China (25-220 AD). This book is also known as “Classic of the Materia Medica” or “Shen-nong’s Herbal Classics.”
  2. ^ Traditional uses, chemical components and pharmacological activities of the genus Ganoderma P. Karst.: a review / Li Wang, Jie-qing Li, Ji Zhang, Zhi-min Li, Hong-gao Liu, Yuan-zhong Wang // RSC Advances: Issue 69, 2020. — p. 42087
  3. ^ Unschuld (1986), p. 17.