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The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 10, No.l, 1995


Discovering Chinese Mineral Drugs

Weidong Yu, M.P.H.; Harold D. Foster, B.Sc. Ph.D.; and Tianyu Zhang, M.P.H., M.D.

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The Chinese have been innovative for millennia, providing the world with paper, the printing press, gunpowder and the compass. China also has developed, largely by trial and error, a traditional system of medicine that has been used by billions of patients. Despite the enormous population that has been, and still is, served by this system the rest of the world has been very hesitant to accept that it has much to offer. Slowly, acupuncture is growing in acceptability. So, too, are the use of certain Chinese herbs, such as ginseng. Nevertheless, it seems logical to expect that much more can be gained from the open-minded, yet scien-tific, evaluation of Chinese medicines. This article is a tentative step in this direction. Its brief descriptions of the more commonly used stone drugs are designed to encourage their further evaluation and to raise the possibility that they may have potential far beyond their use in traditional Chinese medicine.

The majority of Chinese stone drugs are naturally occurring minerals, such as pyrite (Pyritum) or cinnabar (Cinnabaris). However, some are manufactured by the processing of minerals. Included in this second group are mirabilite (Mirabilitum Depura-tum) and calomel (Calomelas). In addition, a few stone drugs consist of animal fossils. These are often referred to by the Chinese as dragon's teeth (Dens Draconis), or dragon's bones (Os Draconis).

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