Cinnabar As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book

Definition: Cinnabar is a toxic, nonmetallic mineral composed of mercury and sulfur. But it is used as medicinal material under certain particular circumstances.

Odour & Nature: Toxic, bitter, cold in nature,

Indications & Formulas:

A mixture of gypsum rubrum powder, cinnabar and licorice powder can be applied externally to heal gum bleeding.

A decoction of licorice root, dried rhizome of rehmannia and cinnabar can be used to treat skin infections of newborn babies.

Powdered white quartz and cinnabar can be taken with meal to treat amnesia (also known as amnesic syndrome, is a deficit in memory caused by brain damage, disease, or psychological trauma).

A mixture of cinnabar, pearl, amber, gold leaf, calculus bovis, rhinoceros horn, tabasheer and soapstone powder can be used to treat acute infantile convulsion due to fright.

Sulfur, dried alum (Chinese: 枯矾), cinnabar and flour can be made into pills to treat severe diarrhea. 

Powdered calomelas, cinnabar and water can be used externally to treat macula of retina.

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. Kindly be alert that the CTM knowledge and ancient formulas given above are likely NOT medically proven and may contain misconceptions.

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