Tag Archives: China

American ginseng as an herbal emissary influencing Qing-American trade relations

Richard Zhang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Panax quinquefolium, as featured in a book by physician-botanist Jacob Bigelow, late 1810s. Public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. On February 22, 1784, the Empress of China set sail from New York Harbor.1 Destined for the eponymous country, the American ship carried thirty tons of a wild root—ginseng. […]

Atrocities in Asia: Japan’s infamous Unit 731

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Bayonet practice, wherein Japanese soldiers used dead Chinese for targets. photographed by an Associated Press photographer near Tientsin. Date, 5 September 1937. Source, LIFE, Oct 11, 1937. page 30. Via Wikimedia In 1931 the Japanese army occupied the province of Manchuria in north-east China and continued to invade and occupy […]

What does the zoonotic origin of COVID-19 teach us about preventing future pandemics?

James A. Marcum  Waco, Texas, United States   Computer generated representation of COVID-19 virions (SARS-CoV-2) under electron microscope. Image by Felipe Esquivel Reed. Via Wikimedia  CC BY-SA 4.0  The history of medicine reveals that epidemics and pandemics have plagued humanity throughout the centuries.1 Examples include the Antonine plague (165-180 A.D.), the Justinian plague (541-542 A.D.), […]

Book review of A Brief History of Ayurveda

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, UK   A Brief History of Ayurveda by M.R. Raghava Varier Ayurveda translates from the Sanskrit as “the science of life and longevity.” It originated over 4,000 years ago as a system of healing in the Indian subcontinent, where it flourished until the nineteenth century. The Harappan civilization in the Indus […]

Schizophrenia in Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman and Lu Xun’s A Madman’s Diary

Janet Ming Guo Atlanta, Georgia, United States   Photograph of Lu Xun on 8 October 1936, 11 days before his death, attending the Second Woodcarving Exhibition in Baxianqiao, Shanghai. Photograph taken by Sha Fei. Circa 8 October 1936. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons. Lu Xun’s 狂人日記 (A Madman’s Diary; 1918)1 was inspired by Nikolai Gogol’s Записки […]

The global journey of variolation

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   A human hand with smallpox pustules. Colored etching by W.T. Strutt. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Humanity has eliminated only one infectious disease—smallpox. Smallpox is a very old disease and efforts to prevent it are almost as old. They included a technique called variolation, also […]

The scourge, the scientist, and the swindle

Anne Jacobson Oak Park, Illinois, United States   Alice Augusta Ball, 1915. (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain) “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as […]

Mary Niles and the Canton rats

Edward McSweegan Kinston, Rhode Island, United States   Doctor Mary West Niles, Wikipedia  Bubonic plague arrived in Honolulu in December 1899. A month later it had spread to San Francisco, where the infection caused a series of deadly outbreaks until 1907.1 But for decades before plague reached the American west coast, it had burned through […]

Ophthalmology in Regency era China: a portrait of Thomas Richardson Colledge by George Chinnery

Stephen Martin Thailand   Fig. 1. Dr. Thomas Richardson Colledge and his assistant Afun in their Ophthalmic Hospital, Macao, 1833. Oil on canvas. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA. Thomas Richardson Colledge (1797-1879) was an ophthalmic surgeon who practiced in Macao, China, for a quarter of a century in the late Regency era. Colledge’s daughter, Frances […]

A Tale of Two Tonics: Sino-Western psychopharmaceutical modernity in Shanghai, 1936

Richard Zhang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Advertisement for Sanatogen in the Shen Bao, October 25, 1936.  Source (accessed through Yale University).  Shanghai, 1936: Positioned at the Yangtze Delta, this sprawling, bustling seaport was a multiplicity of cities. It was China’s most lucrative commercial hub for many business elites; a lavish, cosmopolitan adopted home for expatriates from at […]