Thursday, 5 September 2013

T30 - Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal Herbs are plants that have medicinal values.  Over many centuries, the Chinese have discovered that certain plants have natural pharmaceutical properties.

During the Han Dynasty era, the first medical compilation,  Shennong's compendium of materia medica 《神农本草经》 of ancient China was published.  There were 3 scrolls that included 365 types of materials with medicinal properties.  Unfortunately, those old scrolls were lost in ancient times.

By the 16th century, during the Ming Dynasty era, Li Shizhen (李时珍) had compiled the pharmacopoeia, the Compendium of Materia Medica 《本草纲目》, with listing of 1,195 types of medicinal plants, with roots, stems, flowers, leaves and/or seeds having pharmaceutical properties.  These rich medicinal herbs formed one of the fundamental features of traditional Chinese medicine.

To showcase the rich flora resources and introduce the Chinese medicinal knowledge, a set of five stamps was released on September 15, 1978, depicting five medicinal herbs as the subjects.

(5-1) 8 fen, Panax Ginseng  人参
(5-2) 8 fen, Datura Metel  曼陀罗
(5-3) 8 fen, Belamcanda Chinensis  射干
(5-4) 8 fen, Platycodon Grandiflorum  桔梗
(5-5) 55 fen, Rhododendron Dauricum  满山红

(5-1)【Panax Ginseng】Ginseng is a slow-growing perennial plant.  The gnarly root of the ginseng plant has been used as a medicine in China for over 5,000 years.  It is known as an "adaptogen", i.e., it increases the body`s ability to adapt to stress and changing conditions, including roles as an aphrodisiac, stimulant, type II diabetes treatment, or cure for sexual dysfunction in men.  Ginseng also has potential properties or therapeutic effects for respiratory illnesses, quality of life, influenza or fatigue in cancer patients.  Ginseng leaf, although not as highly prized, is sometimes also used; as with the root.  The stamp depicts the root, flower and leaves of the ginseng plant.
(5-2)【Datura Metel】 Datura Metel is a shrub-like perennial herb, growing up to 3 ft high and commonly known as devil's trumpet.  It is slightly furry, with dark violet shoots and oval to broad oval leaves that are often dark violet as well.  Flowers are immensely varied, and can be single or double.  Colors range from white to cream, yellow, red and violet.  All parts of Datura plant contain dangerous levels of tropane alkaloids (highly poisonous) and may be fatal if ingested by humans or other animals.  Datura Metel is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is called yáng jīn huā (). However, the ingestion of Datura Metel in any form is dangerous and should be treated with extreme caution.  Datura Metel is used as a surgical anesthesia by the Chinese; and also often mixed with cannabis and the mixture is smoked to relieve asthma and rheumatism.  The stamp depicts the flower, stem and leaves of Datura Metel.
(5-3)【Belamcanda Chinensis】 The plant grows to 60–90 cm tall, the flowers can range from red to orange to yellow, or mixed, and bloom in summer to early autumn.  Belamcanda Chinensis is a flowering perennial of Chinese origin, and is locally used in Chinese villages for its medicinal values.  Currently, studies are underway to investigate its apparent potential against prostate cancer.  The dried rhizome has long been used to treat throat troubles, asthma, swollen liver and spleen, gonorrhea, malaria, and arrow poisoning.  The herb is a principal ingredient in a lung support formula to reduce inflammation (heat) and fight viral infection.  The stamp depicts the flower, root and leaves of Belamcanda Chinensis.

(5-4)【Platycodon Grandiflorum】 Platycodon Grandiflorum grows to 60 cm tall and is a herbaceous perennial plant with dark green leaves and blue flowers in late summer.  A notable feature of the plant is the flower bud which swells like a balloon before fully opening.  The root is used extensively as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of coughs and colds.  The stamp depicts the flower, root and leaves of Platycodon Grandiflorum.
(5-5)【Rhododendron Dauricum】 Rhododendron Dauricum grows erect to about 2 metres, with small shiny leaves smelling strongly of salami when touched.  They take on red-brown winter colour in autumn.  The leaves of Rhododendron Dauricum is a folk medicine used as an expectorant and mucolytic in the treatment of acute and chronic bronchitis.  The stamp depicts the flower, root and leaves of Rhododendron Dauricum.
T30 – Medicinal Herbs  药用植物
Issue Date: 1978.9.15
Serial Number:T30
Scott Number:1435-1439
Michel Number:1445-1449
Number of stamps in Set:5
Denomination:8 fen for stamp 1, 2, 3, 4
55 fen for stamp 5
Quantity of Issue:8,000,000 for stamp 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Perforation:P11 X 11½
Sheet Composition:50 (10 X 5) for stamp 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Size of stamps:30 X 40 mm for stamp 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Designer:Pan Keming 潘可明
Printing Process:Photogravure
Printing House:Beijing Postage Stamp Printing Works

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