Comprehensive Chinese Materia Medica -eBook


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By Nigel Wiseman & Eric Brand
Digital Goods, eBook
ISBN 9780912111216

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Through an immense feat of coordinated scholarship in the 1960s and 1970s, the Nánjīng University of Traditional Chinese Medicine collected and identified items used in indigenous Chinese healing practices, providing information about their origins, properties, applications, chemical composition, and classical records. This project led to the publication in 1977 of the Zhōng Yào Dà Cí Diǎn (中药大辞典, “The Encyclopedia of Chinese Medicinals”), which describes 5,767 animal, vegetable, and mineral items used in classical Chinese medicine and in Chinese folk medicine. Since China occupies a vast territory spanning numerous climatic zones, some of these items are familiar to folk medicine practitioners in the West, although many others may be totally unfamiliar.

This Comprehensive Chinese Materia Medica comprises 6,556 entries, including the 5,767 main items of the Zhōng Yào Dà Cí Diǎn as well as nearly one thousand additional entries for specific forms of medicinals and food items. The aim is to enable those outside China to understand the immensity of Chinese traditions and to learn about the Chinese understanding of items that they are familiar with or that may be available in their locality.

The items are each identified by their Latin pharmacognostic names, as well as by their Pīnyīn, Chinese (simplified and traditional), and common English names (or English names derived from Latin). Accented Pīnyīn and unaccented Pinyin are included for transliteration accuracy and easy searchability. The items are listed in alphabetical order of pharmacognostic names, since these are the only names that allow the grouping together of all items of the same and similar origin.

The present e-book version offers maximum searchability. Chinese terms are given in simplified characters, so that they can be found by anyone who knows Chinese. Pinyin is given in accented form, so users who know the tones can precisely find the items they are looking for. Unaccented Pinyin is included for users’ convenience. Since these classic translations rigorously conform to published dictionaries and references, terms searched in English will be just as exact as those searched in Chinese or Pinyin.

To make for the greatest utility without overly burdening the text a standard set of graphical indicators are used throughout this and other related e-books. Square brackets ([ ]) indicate elements of terms that can be omitted (such as omissible elements of medicinal names) or notes to Chinese and English terms. A double asterisk (⁑) indicates polysemous medicinal names. A gray sidebar in the left-hand margin indicates a commonly used item.

Besides being generally less expensive, these eBooks have several unique advantages beside superb searchability. Because everyone can set page size, font type, and font size as they like the discomfort of reading a too-small type is eliminated. If very large type is better for you, go ahead and set it in your eReader preferences. The display will change as appropriate. If you prefer audio-based learning, eReaders are now capable of “read to you” services. This may also be an option for anyone prone to eye strain.

Another feature of eBooks that will make life easier for people who like to highlight text for study or memorization. In an eBook your highlights automatically show on a separate contents page. You are making your own customized study guide as you read along. If you prefer not to highlight text, bookmarks can accomplish the same value. Either way the eBook saves you a lot of time, some of which was just mechanical, like sorting note cards. The act of creating the highlight or bookmark improves memorizations and having your selections indexed with no effort makes pre-test review efficient.

Some of the advantages of eBooks aren’t about reading. When you use your ID to register an eBook, you are establishing your right to that text forever. Reliable eBook sellers know who registered their digital version and can replace a copy lost in a cyber accident, a fumbled key or an errant mouse click. You are also protected from technological disruption. The eBook format, called “epub,” is a standard, no one can hide or alter it. If the next best tech comes along, it will read epub.


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