'Chillies' for headaches in ancient China

  • 20 December 2013

Texts on bamboo strips found on a construction site give clues to how Chinese people treated ailments 2,000 years ago, it's reported.

Suggested treatments apparently include chilli-like fruit for headaches and bull's urine for jaundice. The advice was discovered in texts on 920 bamboo strips, then widely used as a writing material, the China Daily newspaper reports. The strips were reportedly found with other relics of the Western Han Dynasty, which came to power in 206BC, on a construction site in the south-western city of Chengdu.

Some of the texts are believed to have served as a manual for horse vets, while others deal with human illnesses. Xie Tao of Chengdu's archaeology institute says they could be lost medical classics written by the successors of Bian Que, reputed to be China's earliest known doctor. Legend has it that Bian Que pioneered pulse-taking, used anaesthesia and performed an organ transplant.

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