Saturday, November 29, 2014

2838: Chinese discover worlds best asthma remedy

While Nei Ching is the oldest known recorded Chinese medical treaties, Shen Nung, who lived from 2838-2698 is often considered as the founder of Chinese Medicine as well as the "Fire Emporor."  (1) 

Shen Nung (2838-2698)
Shen Nung created the Pen Ts'ao, or "Divine Husbandman's Materia Medica."  It's basically a pharmacopoeia describing how to create remedies from drugs and plants to treat various diseases. He was the first to mention using the plant Ma Huang for treating respiratory disorders.

The leaves and/ or stems of the Ma Huang plant were dried prepared in such a way that it was served as a drink, often as a bitter tasting tea. Nung believed Ma Huang worked by reversing the flow of Qi.

One of the truly interesting things about ancient Chinese asthma treatment is the use of Ma Huang to treat asthma-like symptoms.  The modern world refers to this plant as ephedra, and from it was derived the bronchodilator ephedrine in 1901

Leaves of the plant were crushed and served in a bitter tasting yellow tea. This may actually have provided relief from an asthma attack. While Veith describes that Western medicine reached China early in the 17th century, (2) it would be another 300 years before ephedrine would play a significant role in the treatment of asthma in the U.S. and Europe, as I describe in this post.

So while Ancient Chinese asthmatics may have been able to obtain asthma relief by using ephedra, the rest of the world (except for maybe Japan and Korea) would have to wait.

Click here for more asthma history.

References:
  1. Saunders, M, J.B. Dec, "Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen -- The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Mediciner,"  Calif Med1967 July; 107(1): 125–126
  2. Veith, Ilza, author /translator, "The Yellow emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine," 2002, Los Angeles, pages 4-6
  3. Ibid, page 97-8
  4. Ibid, pages pages 98 and 10-14
  5. "Qi Theory,  damo-qigong.net,  http://damo-qigong.net/qi-theory1.htm
  6. Ibid, http://damo-qigong.net/qi-theory.htm
  7. Veith, op cit, pages 49 and 50
  8. Veith, op cit, pages 57-8, also see chapter 26 beginning on page 217
  9. Navara, Tova, "The Encyclopedia of Asthma and Respiratory Disorders," 2003, New York, page 177
  10. Veith, op cit, page 1
References:
  1. Navara, Tova, "The Encyclopedia of Asthma and Respiratory Disorders," 2003, New York, page 177
  2. Veith, Ilza, author /translator, "The Yellow emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine," 2002, Los Angeles, pages 4-6
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