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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2015, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (6): 363-367.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60205-9

• Medical History • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The use of Chinese herbal drugs in Islamic medicine

Mojtaba Heydaria,b, Mohammad Hashem Hashempurc,d, Mohammad Hosein Ayatie, Detlev Quinternf, Majid Nimrouzib, Seyed Hamdollah Mosavata,g   

  1. a Research Center for Traditional Medicine and History of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
    b Department of Traditional Persian Medicine, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
    c Department of Traditional Medicine, Fasa University of Medical Sciences, Fasa, Iran
    d Noncommunicable Diseases Research Center, Fasa University of Medical Sciences, Fasa, Iran
    e Department of Traditional Medicine, School of Traditional Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
    f Department of History of Science, Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University, Istanbul, Turkey
    g Essence of Parsiyan Wisdom Institute, Traditional Medicine and Medicinal Plant Incubator, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
  • Received:2015-03-07 Accepted:2015-04-03 Online:2015-11-10 Published:2015-11-15

This paper investigates some of the ways that Chinese medicine has been transferred to the Western world and to Islamic territories. During the Golden Age of Islam (8th to 13th century CE), the herbal drug trade promoted significant commercial and scientific exchange between China and the Muslim world. Chinese herbal drugs have been described by medieval Muslim medical scholars such as Tabari (870 CE), Rhazes (925 CE), Haly Abbas (982 CE), Avicenna (1037 CE) and Jurjani (1137 CE). The term al-sin (the Arabic word for China) is used 46 times in Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine in reference to herbal drugs imported from China. Cinnamon (dar sini; “Chinese herb”), wild ginger (asaron), rhubarb (rivand-e sini), nutmeg (basbasa), incense tree wood (ood), cubeb (kababe) and sandalwood (sandal) were the most frequently mentioned Chinese herbs in Islamic medical books. There are also multiple similarities between the clinical uses of these herbs in both medical systems. It appears that Chinese herbal drugs were a major component of the exchange of goods and knowledge between China and the Islamic and later to the Western world amid this era.

Key words: History of medicine, Chinese medicine, Islamic medicine, Herbal drugs, Golden Age of Islam

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