Charcoal As Medicine- Ben Cao Medical Book

Definition: Charcoal is a normal fuel source.

Odour & Nature: Black residue,


  • A decoction of smashed burning charcoal may help to expel metal particles (such as a ring) swallowed accidentally.
  • Drinking honey water mixed with charcoal powder is believed to be effective in treating a blocked throat.
  • A decoction of below medicinal materials can be used to cure gastrointestinal Bleeding:
  1. charcoal powder (紧炭三钱) x 15g
  2. Bitter organge burning ash (枳壳烧灰五钱) x 25g
  • A mixture of sesame oil and charcoal powder can be applied externally to treat burned skin.
  • A solution of smashed burning charcoal can be used externally to help with the treatment of tuberculous leprosy.

The Ben Cao Medical Book (also known as Compendium of Materia Medica or Ben Cao Gang Mu; Chinese: 本草纲目) is the most famous and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Compiled and written by Li Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over 27 years.

The Ben Cao Medical Book records and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties in TCM. The book reflects the pharmaceutical achievements and developments of East Asia before the 16th century. On the basis of his predecessors’ achievements in the pharmacological studies, Li contributed further by supplementing and rectifying many past mistakes and misconception in relate to nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. Charles Darwin, originator of the biological theory of evolution, regards the book as the “ancient Chinese encyclopedia”.

Disclaimer: The Ben Cao Medical Book is translated by The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of CTM knowledge and information from the research and experience from the author Li Shi-zhen.

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