Steel / Iron As Medicine – Ben Cao Medical Book

Definition: Steel is an alloy of iron and other elements, primarily carbon, with wide usage. However, it is not usual that it can be used as medicinal material.

Odour & Nature: Bitter, mild in nature, low-toxicity,

Indications & Formulas:

Steel powder can be used in treatment of metal-inflicted wound and certain digestive disorders.

A mixture of steel powder and lard oil can be used externally to treat erysipelas (an acute streptococcal infectious disease of the skin, characterized by fever, headache, vomiting, and purplish raised lesions, especially on the face, also called Saint Anthony’s fire, Chinese: 丹毒). 

Water solution of steel powder can be taken to mitigate epilepsy. 

Put red hot wrought steel into alcohol until it is cooled down, remove the steel, the alcohol solution can be taken to increase a patient’s resistance to/tolerance of cold temperatures (especially during seasonal change); it can also be taken to treat fever caused hearing loss. 

Boil water with pig iron, when the water cools down, it can be used externally to treat rectal prolapse (a condition in which the rectum loses its normal attachments inside the body). 

Heat alcohol with pig iron, when the alcohol cools down, it can be taken to heal blood stasis. 

A mixture of rust (iron oxide) and suet (from a sheep or goat) can applied externally to treat metroptosis (prolapse of the uterus). 

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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