Li Ching-Yuen: The 256 year-old Herbalist lived on a diet of Herbs

Researchers have called Li's claim "fantastical" and also noted that his claimed age at death, 256 years, is a multiple of 8, and, as such, is considered good luck in China

Li Ching-Yuen. Image source:
  • Li Ching-Yuen was believed to have lived for 256 years, although the claim in unverified
  • He worked as a Herbalist, with a diet of herbs and rice wine
  • Li had 24 wives with around 200 children in his long lifespan 

“Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon, and sleep like a dog.” This is the advice the 256 year old man gave a few months before his death through the Time issue of Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog”, on the May 15, 1933.

Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese herbalist who used to sell selling lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs, and lived off a diet of these herbs and rice wine. Supposedly, at 72 years of age, in 1749, he also joined the army of provincial Commander-in-Chief Yeuh Jong Chyi, as a teacher of martial arts and as a tactical adviser. He died on May 6, 1933 in Kai Xian, Sichuan, Republic of China and was survived by his 24th wife, a woman of 60 years.

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Li Ching-Yuen
Li Ching-Yuen. Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons

Li reportedly had 24 wives in total, and gave birth to 200 children. In a New York Times article, it is said that according to old men in his neighborhood, he was already a grown man when they were still quite young.

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Li claimed he was born in 1736, although a few controversial reports suggest his birth dated back to 1677. In both cases, he would have lived 197 or 256 years, which is more than the current official and verified report that have registered a record of 122 years, held by Jeanne Calment, a french lady.

Gerontologists and experts, have always been skeptical about these claims. According to them, theories of attaining longer lives by following certain philosophies, diets and religious practices, which often surface in the east, are usually unfounded claims.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96


  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This is really weird. He was a man full of surprising facts with a life span of 256 years, 24 wives and 200 children!

  • devika todi

    this world never fails to surprise me! i would really love it if there was any actual proof of his existence.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Such amazing story! It’s simply believable cause aging is directly related to oxidation that happens while digestion. So lessen the stress on digestive system, longer you live!