Li Shizhen | 李時珍 | jy.catholic.org.hk

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Li Shizhen | 李時珍

刊登日期: 2013.11.03
作者: Grace Tse  

 

My body is like a boat in the counter current and my heart is like a strong stone. I hope, Father, you will let me fulfil my ambition and I will fear no difficulties until death. — Li Shizhen
身如逆流船,心比鐵石堅;望父全兒志,至死不怕難。──李時珍

 Li Shizhen(1518 – 1593)is one of the greatest Chinese doctors and herbalists in history. His father was a local doctor. However, the social status of a doctor was relatively low during the Ming dynasty (明朝). Therefore, his father wanted him to become a government official by taking exams. He was intelligent and passed the exam at the county level at the age of 14. Unfortunately, he failed three times at the national level several years later. So he turned to medicine with determination and his father agreed to take him in as an apprentice.
Li Shizhen learned a lot from his father. Eventually he became a successful doctor and got a government position at the Imperial Medical Institute(太醫院)in Beijing. However, as the Institute was bureaucratic and full of unqualified doctors, Li Shizhen did not enjoy working there and left a year later to return home to work as a doctor. His short stay at the Institute gave him a good chance to read many rare medical books. With this broad knowledge of medical history, theories and practices, he found that there were many serious mistakes in the medical books. So he decided to write a book on herbal medicine.
How could Li Shizen ensure that the details on each medicine were correct apart from reading books? He travelled a lot across the country to gain first-hand information on many herbs and local remedies. Finally, after spending nearly thirty years, he completed an important book called “Compendium of Materia Medica” (《本草綱目》). Although he wanted to have the book officially published, the government did not appreciate his work. Eventually the book was published three years after his death.
The medical book was the largest and most complete one ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine. It has been translated into many languages. In 2011, it was recommended for inclusion in the United Nations’ Memory of the World Register (聯合國世界記憶名錄).

 Herbalists: 草藥學家
Government official: 政府官員
County level: 縣級
National level: 國家級
Bureaucratic: 官僚
Unqualified doctors: 庸醫
Theories and practices: 理論與實踐
Local remedies: 民間藥方

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