Compound Remedies: Galenic Pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain

Compound Remedies: Galenic Pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain

by Paula S. De Vos


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Compound Remedies examines the equipment, books, and remedies of colonial Mexico City’s Herrera pharmacy—natural substances with known healing powers that formed part of the basis for modern-day healing traditions and home remedies in Mexico. Paula S. De Vos traces the evolution of the Galenic pharmaceutical tradition from its foundations in ancient Greece to the physician-philosophers of medieval Islamic empires and the Latin West and eventually through the Spanish Empire to Mexico, offering a global history of the transmission of these materials, knowledges, and techniques. Her detailed inventory of the Herrera pharmacy reveals the many layers of this tradition and how it developed over centuries, providing new perspectives and insight into the development of Western science and medicine: its varied origins, its engagement with and inclusion of multiple knowledge traditions, the ways in which these traditions moved and circulated in relation to imperialism, and its long-term continuities and dramatic transformations. De Vos ultimately reveals the great significance of pharmacy, and of artisanal pursuits more generally, as a cornerstone of ancient, medieval, and early modern epistemologies and philosophies of nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822946496
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication date: 12/22/2020
Edition description: 1
Pages: 404
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Paula S. De Vos is professor of history at San Diego State University and an editor of Science in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, 1500-1800.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Timeline xiii

Maps xv

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 Simples and Their Powers in Galenic Pharmacy 19

Chapter 2 Election and Correction: Optimizing the Powers of Simples 68

Chapter 3 Mixtion: Compounding Medicines in Galenic Pharmacy 101

Chapter 4 Galenic Pharmacy and the Materia Medica of the Nahuas 149

Chapter 5 The Development of Alchemical Pharmacy and the Chemico-Galenic Compromise 183

Conclusion 216

Appendix 1 Archival Sources for Data Collection 223

Appendix 2 Textual Tradition of Galenic Pharmacy 225

Appendix 3 Data Establishing the Significance of Mesue's Works in Galenic Pharmacy 229

Appendix 4 Herrera Pharmacy Inventory: Abridged and Translated 233

Appendices 5 & 6 Online at

Notes 247

Bibliography 323

Index 375

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