Ben Cao Gang Mu (《本草纲目》 (Compendium of Materia Medica)) is is the most complete and comprehensive medical book ever written in the history of traditional Chinese medicine. Compiled and written by LI Shi-zhen (1518~1593), a medical expert of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) over a period of 27 years. The first draft was completed in 1578 when Ming China was at its imperial heyday
The compendium lists, analyses and describes all the plants, animals, minerals, and other objects that were believed to have medicinal properties. The compendium in effect epitomizes 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 as regards the nature of many medicinal substances and causes of various illnesses. The compendium in fact heralds the dawning of modern pharmacological studies.