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					 The Jesuit João de Loureiro (1717-1791)
    and the medicinal plants of China

Manuel Serrano Pinto – University of Aveiro, Portugal,
      mspinto@ua.pt
Wang Bing – Institute for the History of Natural Science,
      Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
      wangb45@sohu.com
Noël Golvers – University of Leuven, Belgium,
      Noel.Golvers@arts.kuleuven.be
Rui Manuel Loureiro – New University of Lisbon, Portugal,
      descobrimentos@gmail.com
Rosa Pinho – University of Aveiro, Portugal,
      rpinho@ua.pt
              General plan of the presentation

1. Introduction

2. Short bio-bibliographic note on Loureiro

3. Flora Cochinchinensis and the Chinese medicinal plants

  3.1. General characterization of the book
  3.2. The medicinal uses of the plants from China
  3.3. Loureiros’s herbaria and the medicinal plants
  3.4. Criticisms to Loureiros’s botanical work

4. A tentative comparison to Li Shizhen’s Bencao Gangmu

5. Concluding remarks
                     João de Loureiro’s biographic sketch
1717 – Born in Lisbon. Studied in the religious college of S. Antão
1732 – Entered the Society of Jesus
1735 – Went to Goa as a missionary
1738 – Went to Macao as a missionary
1742 – Went to Cochinchina as a Jesuit astronomer-missionary
Interested in medicinal plants used by local people. Botanical studies based
successively on Dioscorides’ and Linneus’works. Became official naturalist and
astronomer of the court. Mounted an astronomical observatory in the royal
palace
1750-1752 – Out of Cochinchina due to religious persecutions. Botanical
studies in the Philippines and Sumatra
~1753 – Returned to Cochinchina. More botanical studies
1777 – Went to Canton (Guangdong). Botanical studies
When in Asia he was invited in 1780 to go to London by Joseph Banks (but
declined the invitation) and was made a member of the Royal Society
1781 – Return to Portugal. Spent 3 months in Mozambique: botanical studies.
In Lisbon was made a member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences
1790 – Flora Cochinchinensis published by the Lisbon Academy of Sciences
1791 – Died in Lisbon. Left herbarium, drawings, letters, etc. to the Academy
1793 – German edition of Flora Cochinchinensis published in Berlin
                    Table 3 – Medicinal properties of some plants from Flora Cochichinensis and from Bencao Gangmu


 Scientific name       Chinese             Pinyin         Medicinal properties                 Medicinal                Common
     in Flora           name                                    in Flora                     properties in              names in
 Cochichinensis
                                                            Cochichinensis                  Bencao Gangmu                English
Polygonum           水蓼                  shuĭ liăo        Acrid; stimulant; cauterizing      茎叶辛无毒。                   Smartweed
hydropiper L.                                            properties                         主治蛇伤,止蛇毒入腹心闷
                                                                                            。又治脚气肿痛成疮。

Coriandrum          芫荽、                 yán sui or       Seeds: soporific; carminative      根叶辛温微毒。主治消谷,             Coriander and
sativum L.          胡荽、香荽               yán sūi*                                            治五脏,通小腹气,止头痛,            others
                                                                                            辟蛊毒恶气。
                                                                                            子辛酸平无毒。主治消谷能
                                                                                            食,蛊毒五痔。

Croton tiglium L.   巴豆                  bā dòu           Seeds: purgative; emetic;          辛温有毒。                    Croton and others
                                                         emmenagogue; treatment of          主治伤寒温疟寒热,积滞泻
                                                         womb obstruction, of dropsy        痢,破血排脓消肿。
                                                         and of the alteration of the
                                                         body humours

Datura metel L.     [白]曼陀罗(花)           bái màn tuó      Seeds: soporific; inebriant,       花、子,辛温有毒。                Angel’s trumpet and
                                        luó              antispasmodic; treatment of        主治诸风及寒湿脚气。又主             others
                                                         asthma crises.                     惊痫及脱肛,并入麻药。
                                                         Leaves: treatment of
                                                         haemorrhoidal pain, burns and
                                                         corrosive ulcers

Dichroa febrifuga   [黄]常山               huáng cháng      Roots and leaves: febrifuge,       苦寒有毒。                    Chinese quinine and
Lour.                                   shān             treatment of tertian and           主治伤寒寒热,温疟鬼毒,             other
                                                         quartian fevers; emetic            胸中痰结。治诸疟,吐痰涎
                                                                                            。

Kaempferia          山奈                  shān nài         Stomachic; good for                根辛温无毒。                   Galanga and others
galanga L.                                               headaches; diaphoretic;            主治暖中,辟瘴疠恶气。治
                                                         effective against contagious       心腹冷痛,寒湿霍乱,牙痛
                                                         diseases                           。

Stemona             [对叶]百部              dùi yè băi bù    Roots: expectorant; refreshing;    根甘微温无毒。                  Wild asparagus and
tuberosa Lour.                                           demulcent; treatment of lungs’     主治咳嗽上气。治肺热润肺             other
                                                         illness, of phthisis, of chronic   。
                                                         cough
Conclusions
The importance of Loureiro’s botanical studies may be summarized as
   follows:
1) They are among the pioneering ethno-botanical studies in China made
   by Westerns and have contributed to the progress of botany in general
   and of Chinese botany in particular;
2) Through herbaria, drawings and written descriptions, he made known to
   Europe for the first time many Chinese plants and promoted the transfer
   of some plants from China to Europe;
3) Having corresponded with Western botanists Loureiro played an
   important role in the West-East scientific exchange in the 18th century in
   the field of botany;
4) The medicinal and several other uses of many plants were made known
   to Europe;
5) In comparing the medicinal properties of plants as given in Flora;
   Cochinchinensis and as given in Bencao Gangmu differences are seen
   mostly due to different ideas on their applications and also due to
   differences on the medicinal knowledge in China and in Europe;
6) Loureiro’s studies should be seen in the framework of the European
   Enlightment and also in the framework of the physiocratic ideas
   prevailing at the time.