Traditional Chinese Medicine: The Legend of Paris Polyphylla

Paris polyphylla is a herb that has long been regarded in traditional Chinese medicine as a great cure for fevers, burns, and for detoxification. (Image:  Wendy Cutler via  flickr  CC BY 2.0 )
Paris polyphylla is a herb that has long been regarded in traditional Chinese medicine as a great cure for fevers, burns, and for detoxification. (Image: Wendy Cutler via flickr CC BY 2.0 )

Paris polyphylla is a herb that has long been regarded in traditional Chinese medicine as a great cure for fevers, burns, and for detoxification. In particular, it cures snake bites very well. This is the legend of how it was discovered.

A long time ago, a young man named Zhen Jiangsan lived in the mountains in China’s Zhejiang Province. Since both of his parents died and he had no other siblings, the only way he could make money was by selling firewood he collected in the mountains.

One day while cutting wood, a venomous snake suddenly sprang out of the bushes and bit his leg. Shortly thereafter, he became unconscious and fell to the ground. It was a lucky coincidence that seven fairies happened to be flying to Tianmu Mountain to bathe in the Heavenly Pond.

 the only way he could make money was by selling firewood he collected in the mountains. (Image: Edal Anton Lefterov via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

The only way Zhen could make money was by selling firewood he collected in the mountains. (Image: Edal Anton Lefterov via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Seeing Zhen passed out on the ground, the fairies circled him and out of compassion used their shawls to cover his wound. By an even greater stroke of luck, the Queen Mother happened to be flying in the clouds above the mountains and saw what was happening.

Without a second thought, the Queen Mother took the Jade Hairpin out of her hair and put it in the middle of the seven shawls. Due to the influence of the divine energy from the seven shawls and the Jade Hairpin, the venom was quickly dissipated out of Zhen’s body and he gradually became conscious.

As he became clear-headed, he heard some striking sounds from a gust of wind and found that the seven shawls and the Jade Hairpin suddenly became seven green leaves and a golden flower. He was instantly dumbfounded, as if he had woken from a dream. Moreover, he found that the skin of his leg was very smooth, without any scars.

It finally dawned on him that it was the beautiful wild flower that saved his life. After going back to the village, he shared his miraculous encounter with the villagers, and took them to look for the magic flower. They all believed that it was divine energy from the flower that made it able to dissipate snake venom and evil spirits from the human body.

After that, as soon as someone was bitten by a snake, they would go to the mountains to find the flower and it worked wonders every time. When asked the name of the flower, Zhen said: “Paris polyphylla means seven leaves with a flower.” It later became a highly esteemed herb in traditional Chinese medicine.

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