Herbal Medicine History

In all ancient civilisations, herbs have played a vital role in healing. Historically, herbs have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Much has been documented in the Egyptian Papri, dating back to 1700BC. Hippocrates in about 400BC Greece wrote about disease, illness, causes and cures. Pedanius Dioscorides wrote the Materia Medica around 60AD & his work remained the standard textbook for 1500 years.

The Arab world also contributed greatly with their work the Kitab al-Qanum. It was translated into Latin & became one of the leading textbooks in Western medical schools. The earliest Indian (Ayurvedic) & Chinese texts using herbals were around 2500BC. 

 

In Europe, after the fall of the Roman Empire & the Dark Ages, many herbal practices were spread by Christianity. The most famous school was at Salerno, Italy, which was founded in the 10th century, teaching the Hippocratic principles of good diet, fresh air & exercise. By the 1530’s, healing & herbs moved away from the cloister. Paracelsus, an alchemist & physician revolutionized European healthcare by writing in German instead of Latin. William Turner, a physician, wrote in English, & Nicholas Culpepper, during the 1600’s translated the Pharmacopoeia into English.

The native American & European settlers shared much of their knowledge. In the 1700’s Samuel Thompson, founded Physiomedicalism, which combined both knowledges of European & Native American skills. His handbook & remedies swept across the US in the 19th century, and claimed 3 million followers. Eclecticism, founded by Wooster Beech in the 1830’s, followed Thompson’s principles, but combined more orthodox medicine. In 1838, Dr. Albert Coffin brought Physiomedicalism & Eclecticism to Great Britain & it remained popular until the 1930’s.

 

In the US in 1907, a dramatic setback occured in Herbal Medicine. Two powerful businessmen, Carnegie & Rockefeller, gave total financial support to the developing chemical drug industry, knowing that vast amounts of money could be made with patentable drugs, unlike herbal medicine. Over a five year period, hundreds of Herbal & Natural Health Colleges shut down due to this move. It would take many years before a re-birth would take place.Today, the use of Western, Ayurvedic, Chinese, Tibetan herbs & others are being researched and once again playing a major role in health care.

Science and metaphysics are now rewriting where we can once more embrace cell knowledge and wisdom from the past to our present and expand our future. Our brains create our material reality.

2020 Copyright Alicia Sawaya MSc HIr MAMH