Ancient Chinese got to heart of problem

March 7, 1997

MORE than 1,000 years ago the Chinese used a herbal preparation to ease heart pains that had a very similar effect to modern-day nitroglycerine.

Information contained in a medical document discovered in north west China's Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, where thousands of written materials were stored by residents in ancient times, has revealed that people of the Tang Dynasty (ad618-907 ) developed a mixture of nitre and realgar powder to place under the tongue to treat angina.

Pharmacologists at the Traditional Chinese Medical College of Gansu Province, where the Mogao Grottoes are located, are studying the ancient manuscripts, in the hope that some of the findings can be applied to modern medicine.

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