Of the China root: a case study of the early modern circulation of materia medica

Winterbottom, Anna (2015) Of the China root: a case study of the early modern circulation of materia medica. Social History of Medicine, 28 (1). pp. 22-44. ISSN 0951-631X

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Abstract

The early modern rise of syphilis provoked similar anxieties to those that more recently accompanied the global spread of HIV/AIDS. It also stimulated global demand for remedies. I discuss one of the most popular, known as ‘China root’ and usually identified with various species of Smilax. The drug and instructions for its use were spread westward from China by traders of all nationalities from 1535 onwards. Demand became global before being largely replaced in Europe by supplies of various American Smilax species, known collectively as ‘Sarsaparilla’. I examine the economic, political and cultural dynamics of this process and draw from them some conclusions about the early modern drugs trade and its effects on medical thought.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia
D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa
Depositing User: Anna Winterbottom
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2016 13:17
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2016 13:17
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63601
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