The history of plants and herbs in medicine is virtually the history of medicine itself. For thousands of years, they have played a fundamental role in the healing arts, right up to the present day. From the beginning, they were linked to the material of religion, were key factors in the cultural life of many societies, and became intertwined with magic. They remain today part of both the art and science of medicine. Medicinal Plants and Their History recounts the long and fascinating story of plants and herbal remedies — the cultural traditions that used them, the books and treatises written about them, the tangential events that influenced them or were influenced by them.
From the ancient Chinese treatment for hay fever (recently proved to be scientifically sound) to today’s sophisticated extraction of essential plant oils, the book details how various civilizations have used and misused plant remedies. Common practices of Egyptian, Indian, Hebraic, Greek, and Roman times are covered; as are those of the early Christian era, the Middle Ages, and sixteenth-, seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century England. Coming into the twentieth century, there is a full description of modern cultivation of medicinal plants and the contemporary drug trade. The case of plants and herbs in magic and religion, the contributions of famous herbalists and physicians (notably Hippocrates, Pliny, Dioscorides, Sydenham), famous English and European herbals, medical organization and education in the Middle Ages, and the first British pharmacopoeia, are some of the related events described.
One of the most interesting and informative chapters is the one detailing the medicinal properties of 40 major orders of British wild plants — over 150 plants in all. Whether the problem was fever, whooping cough, kidney trouble, or ague, there was a remedy for it. And, because many traditional remedies have a basis in scientific fact, you will discover which are still being used today.