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History of Neurology
May 2006

Early Descriptions of Parkinson Disease in Ancient China

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Neurology (Dr Zhang), Clinical Epidemiology (Dr Zhang), and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dr Dong), Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China; and Department of Medicine/Neurology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio (Dr Román).

Arch Neurol. 2006;63(5):782-784. doi:10.1001/archneur.63.5.782

A historical search of traditional Chinese medical sources revealed several ancient descriptions suggestive of Parkinson disease dating back to 425 BC. Zhang Zihe (1156-1228) provided the first description of a typical case of Parkinson disease in the book Ru Men Shi Qin. Traditional Chinese medicine also recommended an “antitremor pill” that to this day appears to provide reasonable symptomatic treatment for tremor and rigidity. Based on this evidence, we conclude that Parkinson disease (PD) was first described more than 2400 years ago in China.