Li Shizhen

Li Shizhen (Li Shih-chen; July 3, 1518 – 1593), courtesy name Dongbi, was one of the greatest Chinese physicians, polymaths, scientists, herbalists and acupuncturists in history.

His major contribution to clinical medicine was his 27-year work, which is found in his book Compendium of Materia Medica (Bencao Gangmu). He is also considered to be the greatest scientific naturalist of China, and was very interested in the proper classification of herb components.

The Bencao Gangmu is a medical text with 1,892 entries, each entry with its own name called a gang. The mu in the title refers to the synonyms of each name. The book has details about more than 1,800 drugs (Chinese Medicine), including 1,100 illustrations and 11,000 prescriptions. It also described the type, form, flavor, nature and application in disease treatments of 1,094 herbs. His Compendium of Materia Medica has been translated into many different languages, and remains as the premier reference work for herbal medicine. His treatise included various related subjects such as botany, zoology, mineralogy, and metallurgy. The book was reprinted frequently and five of the original editions still exist.