Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 3

materia medica Related Abstracts

3 Vegetative Materia Medica for the Women Illness in mss2999 Kitab Tibb: A Modern Medical Interpretation of a Malay Medical Manuscript

Authors: Wan Aminah Hasbullah


The knowledge of medicine in Malay society stemmed out from the need to remedy disease process. Such knowledge came from observations by looking at the signs on the plants which signify it uses, the doctrine of signature, and also observing what kind of animal and its parts that can be used to treat the disease. Prayers (jampi and doa’) play a very important role in the therapeutic processes addressing the ethereal part of the body. In Malay medicine, prayers were said in the heart of the Malay bomoh (medicine man) when they are first approaching the diseased person, seeking the help of Allah in accurately directing his mind into making the right diagnosis and subsequently the right choice of treatment. In the making of medicine, similar rituals were religiously followed, starting from gathering the materia medica to the final concoction of the medicine. Thus, all the materia medica and the prayers in Malay medicine were gathered and documented in the medical manuscript known as MSS 2999 Kitab Tibb. For this study, a collection of vegetative materia medica which is specialized for the women illness from this manuscript will be gathered and analysed. A medical and cultural interpretation will be highlighted to see the relationship between efficacy in traditional Malay medicine as practiced in the past and the recent practice of the modern medicine.

Keywords: vegetative, materia medica, woman illness, Malay medical manuscript

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2 Health and Disease, Sickness and Well Being: Depictions in the Vinaya Pitaka and Jataka Narratives

Authors: Abhimanyu Kumar


The relationship between religion and medicine is much evident in the context of Buddhism. This paper is an attempt to look at the processes of social and cultural evolution of scientific creativity in the field of medicine and institutionalization of medical practices. The objective of the paper is to understand the Buddhist responses towards health as understood from the Vinaya Piṭaka and the Jātaka. This work is a result of the analysis of two important Buddhist texts: the Vinaya Piṭaka and the Jātaka. Broadly the Vinaya Piṭaka is concerned with the growth of Buddhist monasticism. The Vinaya Piṭaka is considered one of the most important sacred texts of the Buddhists, and contains rules for monastic life. These rules deal with such aspects as formal meetings of the saṃgha (monastery), expiation, confession, training, and legal questions. The Jātaka stories, on the other hand, are in the form of folk narratives, and provide a major source of medical consultation for all classes. These texts help us to ascertain the ‘proficiency and perceptions’ of the prevailing medical traditions. The Jātakas are a collection of 547 stories about the past lives of the Buddha, who is represented in anthropomorphic and animal form. The Jātaka connects itself between existing cognitive environments related to ethics and Buddhist didacticism. These stories are a reflection of the connection between the past and contemporary times (in the sense of time of creation of the story) as well. This is visible through the narrative strategy of the text, where every story is sub-divided into the story of the past and story of the present, and there is a significant identification element or connection that established at the end of each story. The minimal presence of philosophical content and the adoption of a narrative strategy make it possible for more of everyday life. This study gives me an opportunity to raise questions about how far were the body and mind closely interrelated in the Buddhist perceptions, and also did the society act like a laboratory for the Buddhists to practice healing activities? How far did religious responses to afflictions, be they leprosy or plague or anger, influence medical care; what impact did medical practitioners, religious authorities and the regulation of medical activity and practice have on healing the body and the mind; and, how has the healing environment been viewed. This paper is working with the idea that medical science in early India was not only for the curative purpose of diseases, but it fulfilled a greater cause of promoting, maintaining and restoring human health. In this regard, studying these texts gives an insight regarding religious responses to epidemics, from leprosy to plague, as well as to behavioral disorder such as anger. In other words, it deals with the idea about healing the body and healing the soul from a religious perspective.

Keywords: human body, materia medica, food for health, folk narratives, social sickness

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1 An Investigation of the Pharmacomechanisms of Shang-Han Lun Formulas as Elucidated in the Qing Dynasty Classic 'Ben-Jing Shu-Zheng'

Authors: William Ceurvels, Dong-Di Zhang


The true nature of the mechanism by which the pharmaceuticals of the Shang-Han Lun act has been a topic of debate since Wuji Cheng published the first commentary during the Northern Song. Subsequent commentaries employed a number of methodologies in their analysis of pharmaceutical mechanisms, but no commentator was able to garner universal acceptance. During the Qing Dynasty, the proliferation and development of Neo-Confucian scholarship produced a new generation of scholars possessed of rigorous and inventive research methods, one of whom was the famed materia medica scholar, Run-an Zou. Run-an Zou and his successor Zhou Yan advocated analyzing the mechanism of Treatise pharmaceuticals based upon the understanding of those pharmaceuticals during the time period in which the Treatise was written and thereby focused on the Han Dynasty materia medica tract Shen-nong Ben-cao Jing (The Divine Husbandman’s Herbal Foundation Canon). Zou Run-an’s commentary, Ben-jing Shu-zheng won nearly universal praise among materia medica scholars for its scholastic rigor and innovative research methods. However, because Ben-jing Shu-zheng only focuses on individual herbs, as opposed to formulas, its value in analyzing the Shang-Han Lun has limitations. The purpose of this study is to combine Zou Run-an’s single-pharmaceutical commentaries to generate theoretical full formula analyses to gain a fuller picture of Zou’s understanding of the healing mechanism of Shang-Han Lun formulas. Commentaries were gathered from Ben-jing Shu-zheng and Zhou Yan’s Ben-cao Si-bian Lun and combined to produce theoretical full formula model mechanisms of Treatise formulas. Through this study, a new picture of the mechanistic basis of Shang-han formulas emerges, which is based on qi-xue changes as opposed to organ or meridian theory. The author hopes that this modest research study will be of service to scholars of the Shang-han and clinical doctors alike in their pursuit of the true pharmacomechanisms of this great Han dynasty tome.

Keywords: materia medica, Shang-han Lun, Shen-nong Ben-cao Jing, neo-Confucian scholarship

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