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Traditional nostrum


, : Traditional nostrum. Yakushigaku Zasshi 41(1): 40-46

The commercialization of drugs started toward the end of Heian period (794-1192) when not only aristocrats and monks who were traditional patrons to drug makers, but also local clans and landlords who became powerful as a result of the disbanding of aristocratic manors accumulated enough wealth to spend money on medicine. Although traveling around the country was still a dangerous endeavor, merchants assembled groups to bring lucrative foreign drugs (mainly Chinese) to remote areas. The spread of commercial drugs to common people, however, did not happen until the early Edo period (1603-1867), when the so-called barrier system was installed nationwide to make domestic travel safe. Commercialization started in large cities and gradually spread to other areas. Many nostrums popular until recently appeared in the Genroku period (1688-1703) or later. Many such nostrums were all-cures, often consisting of such active ingredients as Saussureae radix, Agalloch, or Gambir. Even in the Edo period, many people living in agricultural or fishing villages, as well as those in the lower tier, were still poor. Much of the medication available to those people was therefore made of various plant or animal-derived substances that were traditionally used as folk medicines.

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PMID: 17153114


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