The world’s largest traditional Chinese herb garden is being built in Beijing by the Li Shizhen Traditional Chinese Medicine Culture Foundation.
Shizhen was a prominent acupuncturist and herbalist during the Ming Dynasty, whose textbook Compendium of Materia Medica is the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine, that continues to be taught in TCM schools across the globe. The book is the inspiration behind the nonprofit garden, that aims to include 1, 892 species of herb that one of Shizhen’s descendants, Li Guoyong, hopes will become a center for TCM learning. “It’s time for us to promote Chinese medicine with its universal values, popularize this knowledge and establish the right conceptions and standards.”
The garden will be kept healthy and free from pollution by being located in an isolated district of Beijing. The goal is to keep a garden free from all types of pollution, including pesticides and chemical fertilizers. “Reviving the tradition of the raw planting of herbs is the key for Chinese medicine to carry on. This botanical garden and future Li Shizhen academy are here to resolve the problem,” he said.
Growing traditional Chinese herbs is a complicated process, as they require very specific conditions and must be strictly overseen. It’s why most American TCM clinics have to import their herbs. Li was asked to weigh in on this matter, and whether he had considered expanding the garden overseas.
He said they always work with a doctor and clinics that have licences to practice medicine in foreign countries: “We can still find herbs that grow in foreign lands and that are useful for locals. When we develop the herb sourcing system overseas according to both Chinese and foreign local laws and regulations, it will be very convenient for traditional Chinese medicine to exercise greater functions for human good.”
While there’s still developments ahead before we can begin to assemble and craft true Traditional Chinese Medicine gardens in the U.S., the efforts of Li and his cohorts provides a promising blueprint for the future. This would make herbal medicine convenient and accessible for even more Americans.
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