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by Michael Tierra, O.M.D., AHG, RH
Hippocrates, engraving by Peter Paul Rubens, 1638.

A typical Western medical text's description of the Medieval portion of the history of Western medicine might be summarized thus: The classical Greek medical tradition (developed over the sixth century BCE to the first and second centuries CE), from which Western medicine as we know it is derived, was lost to Europe during its Dark Ages (fifth to 14th centuries AD). Luckily, it was translated and preserved by Arab scholars, and re-emerged during the European Renaissance with little to no influence or development by Arabic or other Eastern healing traditions.

But contrary to this popular notion, history shows that Arab scholars played a much more significant role in the evolution of Western medicine than just preserving the Greek tradition and leaving it as they found it. In fact, they sought not only to preserve classical Greek medicine but also to develop it for further advancement of medical knowledge and science generally.
A closer look at the activity of Middle Eastern scholars during the Medieval period shows that they translated classical medical texts not only from Greece, but also from India and China '“ and that knowledge derived from these Far Eastern traditions informed the Arab influence on and development of what we now call Western medicine. This synthesis resulted in a richer, and indeed, more planetary medical tradition, weaving together some of the best of which each system had to offer.

Cultural Milieu of the Middle Ages: A Shift from East to West

In the approximately 1,000 years after the fall of Rome '“ better known as the Middle or Dark Ages of European history '“ learning became virtually extinct throughout Europe. Without the centralized governing body, security and international network once provided by the Roman Empire, lay intellectual discourse in Europe withered, and learning became an activity reserved mainly for cloistered monks who had little interaction with the world at large.

By the time the Islamic Empire had risen to power in the eighth century, the cultural and intellectual center of the globe had shifted completely from the West to the Arab world. Uniquely situated at the crossroads between East and West, Muslim scholars in the Middle East were quite literally living in the best geographical location to benefit from cross-cultural intellectual exchange.

Unlike their early Christian counterparts who persecuted people of other faiths and nations, such an exchange was one the Muslim world fostered and encouraged. One of the main philosophical differences between Christians and most other peoples of the ancient world centered around the role of the sciences -- especially medical science -- as part of health care. Christian philosophy has always been slanted toward a mind-body split while Eastern philosophies, including Muslim beliefs, are inclined toward a more unified view. A fundamental tenet of Christianity from its inception after the death of Christ was a belief in his imminent second coming. Because of this, gathering knowledge of physical healing was of little concern. As the Church became more powerful, physical healing became entrusted to clergy; it was preferred that healing be credited to saints, miracles and prayer rather than to the aid of medicine at human hands.
Muslims, on the other hand, regarded science and civilization as God-given gifts[1] and sought to develop those gifts by integrating and expounding upon the knowledge of both East and West. They contributed many insights and contributions of their own to the developing canon of medical knowledge while acknowledging their inheritance from other civilizations.
Deliberate or not, one of the reasons the history of Western medicine and Western herbal medicine overlooks or understates the contribution of Arabic medicine made during the Middle Ages is a deep-seated prejudice against Arabs and Jews as being non-Christians. This can be summed up with the following quote by Sir John Bagot Glubb, British lieutenant general and commander of the Arab Legion who served in the Middle East from 1920-1956:
The indebtedness of Western Christendom to Arab civilization was systematically played down, if not completely denied. A tradition was built up, by censorship and propaganda, that the Muslim imperialists had been mere barbarians and that the rebirth of learning in the West was derived directly from Roman and Greek sources alone, without any Arab intervention." [2]

Arabic Translations from West and East: Traditions and Transformations

During the medieval period, Muslim medical scholars translated Western medical and philosophical classics, including texts by Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Dioscorides, and Galen into Arabic, which was considered at that time to be the language of academia.
As a result of those early translations, much of medieval Arabic medicine is based on the classical Greek four elements first identified by Empedocles (490-430 BCE) and the four humours first described and utilized by Hippocrates (460-370 BCE). In turn, these ideas have similarities to various element models both in China and India, strongly suggesting a past link between these cultures.[3]

Middle Eastern scholars uncovered more support for that link when most of Galen's Greek writings were first translated to Syriac by Nestorian monks in the University of Jundi Shapur, located in Persia (present-day Iran).[4] Then Muslim scholars translated them into Arabic, and along with the Greek classics mentioned above, they became one of the main influences for Persian scholars such as Avicenna and Rhazes.

Claude Galien. Lithograph by Pierre Roche VigneronThe most important figure to bridge the medical knowledge of the ancient Greeks with later Roman periods, Galen (131-201 CE) embraced the Hippocratic concept of the humours, but he also described a force called pneuma that pervades every living organism. Comparable to the Chinese concept of Qi and the Ayurvedic concept of prana, pneuma was said to activate or stimulate all the faculties of growth, development and nutrition. While the humours were previously associated by Hippocrates with the human body, Galen described how each food has a characteristic humour which led to an elaborate system of dietetics similar to that of Ayurvedic and Chinese medical systems.
Medieval Arabic medicine was also influenced more directly by healing traditions from India and China. Among the many medical and herbal texts translated and studied by Muslim scholars were the two primary texts of Ayurvedic medicine, the Sushruta and Caraka Samhitas. These were translated during the ninth century under the title Kitabi-i-Shaushura-al-Hindi. Ali ibn Rabban Tabari (c. 838'“c. 870 CE), one of the earliest Muslim writers, dedicated a section of his Firdaus-ul Higmat ('Paradise of Wisdom') to the discussion of the influence of Ayurveda on Persian medicine.
Medieval Muslim scholars were also aware of and interested in Chinese medicine. In 1313, Rashiel al Din al Hamdani (1247-1318) had an encyclopedia of Chinese medicine that included an Arabic translation of its most important classical text, the Nei Jing, as well as the Mai Jing, major manual on pulse diagnosis by Wang Shu-he. (attribution) The pulse as a diagnostic modality was and is still used by Chinese, Ayurvedic and Middle Eastern Unani-Tibb doctors. Many different pulse qualities similar to the classical 28 Chinese qualities were also studied and part of Western clinical practice up through the mid-20th century.

Outstanding Arab Medical Doctors and Scholars

The unique Arabic influence during the Islamic Golden Age on what we now call Traditional Western Medicine evolved so far that by the 16th and 17th centuries, it bore little resemblance to that which was left by the Greeks 1,500 years before that. Following is a short list of some of the foremost Middle Eastern medical scholars and doctors of that period.

Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (808-873)
Also known in Latin as Johannitus, the Assyrian Christian Hunayn lived in Iraq and was renowned as a physician, scientist and a great translator of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Galen, Hippocrates, Dioscorides and the Arabic Old Testament. In addition he wrote numerous original texts in different fields of medicine, from ophthalmology to odontology. His works on the eye remained influential until the 15th century.
Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi (865-925)
Persian physician, alchemist, philosopher and scholar, al-Razi was well-versed in Greek, Persian and Indian medicine. The author of 184 books and articles on medicine and science, he made numerous advances in both fields through his own observations and discoveries. He was an early proponent of experimental medicine, pioneer of neurosurgery and ophthalmology and is regarded as the father of pediatrics. His medical writings greatly influenced the medieval Islamic world and Europe, where he was known under the Latinized form of his name, Rhazes.
Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn al-Abbas Al-Zahrawi (936-1013)[5]
Also known in the West as Abulcasis, Abu al-Qasim is considered the greatest surgeon in the Islamic medical tradition. His medical texts, combining Middle Eastern and Greco-Roman classical teachings, influenced European surgical procedures up until the Renaissance. Published in 1000, his greatest work Al-Tasrif was a 30-volume guide to medical practice including dentistry, childbirth and other aspects. Like Ibn Rushd (described above) Abu al-Qasim was very concerned with medical ethics, emphasizing the importance of treating patients regardless of their social status and encouraging close observation to provide the best care for them. In the 12th century, Al-Tasrif was translated into Latin, and for or perhaps five centuries during the European Middle Ages it was used by surgeons and doctors as the primary reference for medical knowledge.
Ibn Sina (lat. Avicenna) was an Iranian/Persian philosopher and scientist.Avicenna: The Prince of Physicians (980-1037)[6] [7]
The most outstanding doctor of the time, indeed, perhaps of all time, was Ibn Sina, known famously as Avicenna. His fame primarily rests on his writing the monumental Canon of Medicine consisting of five volumes and over a million words in which he refined and codified all of the Greek, Roman and Islamic medical knowledge that existed in the world up to his time. Both The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine went through many translations including Latin as well as every other known language and served as the primary medical text and basis of medicine in Europe until the second half of the 17th century. It is still currently used as the basis for Middle Eastern Unani-Tibb medicine and in some countries in the Orient.
Abu 'l-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad Ibn Rushd (1126-1198)
Known in the West as Averroes, Abu '˜l-Walid was born in Cordoba, Spain, and died in Marrakech. He was known as a philosopher, jurist and physician and is regarded as the foremost Islamic philosopher. His knowledge of medicine is appreciable and is illustrated by his famous book Kitab al-Kulliyyat fi 'l Tibb ('Book of the Generalities in Medicine'), translated into Latin under the title Colliget. [8]
Ibn al-Nafis (1213-1288)
Ibn al-Nafis, whose full name is 'Ala' al-Din Abu Al-Hassan al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi, was a physician from Damascus, Syria and he worked also in Egypt. He is mostly famous for being the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood and the coronary blood supply to the heart. The most voluminous and famous of his books is Al-Shamil fi 'l-Tibb ('The Comprehensive Book in Medicine'), an 80-volume encyclopedia which was planned to comprise 300 volumes. This encyclopedia and its author eventually eclipsed the knowledge of Avicenna, many of whose medical theories he challenged and corrected.
Ibn al-Nafis also corrected the theory accepted by Galen about the circulation of the blood and proposed a new one based on his anatomical knowledge. He was the first to describe the circulation of the blood from the right chamber of the heart through the pulmonary artery to the lungs where it is mingled there with air, and then how it passes through the pulmonary vein to reach the left chamber of the heart. His description of the anatomy of the heart and of the lungs reflect his attitude in favor of dissection and autopsy, the practice of which clearly gave him the edge over previous doctors on knowledge of anatomy.
Without al-Nafis' work in this area, the seminal medical discovery on the circulation of blood by renowned English physician William Harvey in 1628 would not have been possible.

In Defense of Planetary Herbology

Modern Western allopathic medicine may look back at classical antiquity and its development over the Middle Ages for its roots, but such a historical review deserves close attention by modern herbalists of all traditions as well, for many of them hold truer to the original energetic and diagnostic models of our common ancestors.[9] After all, the true roots of all modern medicine, allopathic or otherwise, are actual botanical ones.

Thanks to their steadfast efforts to translate treasured medical texts from both East and West, Muslim scholars were able to integrate aspects from all traditions into their own already significant advancements of medicine and science, and in turn, provide what could be called a planetary dimension to the 'Western medicine' that emerged in the European Renaissance. This attitude of tolerance and acceptance stemming from the inclusive nature Muslim philosophy enabled its scholars to incorporate and expound upon pre-existing Eastern and Western thought, with the intention of furthering the knowledge of medical science as a benefit for all.

La Scuola Medica Salernitana Miniature from Avicenna's Canon: manuscript 2197

In a similar spirit, the first medieval European medical school, the Schola Medica Salernitana, was founded in the ninth century in Salerno, Southern Italy, and represented a meeting of European and Indian traditions along with aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to legend, the school was founded by four masters: the Jewish Helinus, the Greek Pontus, the Latin Salernus, and the Arab Adela. The school flourished when Europe was at its lowest point culturally, between the 10th and 13th centuries, due in no small part to its inclusive view of medicinal traditions. In fact, its spirit of openness extended to its student body: the Schola Medica Salernitana was among the first medical schools to include women, both as teachers and students.

United by the fact that disease is a universal problem faced by all humankind, both Eastern and Western scholars of the Middle Ages were eager to develop a system for the treatment of disease. Students at Salerno and Arabic medical scholars found themselves in places where such an exchange of medical insights and methods was not only put to practical use, but also encouraged and celebrated.

This open-minded approach is parallel to the concept of Planetary Herbology, which is based on the integration of the primary herbal medical systems of both the East and West into a new synthesis encompassing diagnostics, classification of medicines and modes of treatment. Some may question a system that integrates knowledge and herbs from such widely diverse cultural traditions, but we see that our own modern medicine is already the result of such an integration led by medieval medical scholars who valued the synthesis of threads of useful knowledge more highly than maintaining the purity of their sources.


[1] The prophet Muhammad's hadith, "The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of martyrs," reflects the high value placed on knowledge during the Islamic Golden Age.


From 'A Short History of the Arab Peoples' by John Bagot Glubb


One possibility might be found with the interaction between the Greeks and people of the Indus valley, the Aryans, who were the predecessors of early Indian civilization and the authors of the Vedas (which includes the early writings on Ayurveda '“ Sanskrit for 'the science of life'). Further shared influences seemed to be one of the positive outcomes of conquest and Alexander the Great's annexation of the Gandhara region that led to closer ties between Greece and India. Other mutual contacts extended to the Persian kings of mid-first millennium BCE, who employed both Greek and Indian scholars and physicians. Fillozat, Sharma (1992) suggests that both Plato and Hippocrates were influenced by Indian thought and concepts.



Jundi Shapur is considered the home of the oldest known teaching hospital and chiefly followed the Greek and Indian Ayurvedic systems, taking what was most useful from each and adding observations of their own.










Evidence for the existence of a well-organized system of medicine in India can be traced back to the archaeological remains of third-millenium BCE Indus Valley civilization city centers Harappa and Mohenjodaro (both now in present-day Pakistan), making Ayurveda the oldest indigenous medical system. Ayurvedic medicine influenced not only Greek medicine but was spread by Buddhist monks to both Tibet and China as well. This provides a common root that accounts for the many similarities between Western and Eastern medical systems, including elemental and humoural theories, medicines (mostly herbs but also some substances of mineral and animal origin), preparations, and various healing modalities including therapeutic diets, cupping, physiotherapies, venesection (bleeding), cauterization (moxabustion) and to a more limited extent, acupuncture, though this modality was uniquely expanded and developed in China. Diagnostic methods based on methods of observation also have similarities with differential assessment of all aspects of general appearance, manner of speech, temperament, urine as well as tongue and pulse diagnosis. The goal was to achieve an understanding not only of the major symptoms and complaints, but of underlying constitutional states that give rise to a particular disease.

References and Bibliography include the following:
Dr. Hassan Kamal, Encyclopedia of Islamic Medicine, published by General Egyptian Book Organization, 1975
Hakim G.M. Chisti, N.D., The Traditional Healer, published by Healing arts Press, 1988
Amber and Babey, The Pulse in Occident and Orient, published by Santa Barbara Press, 1966
Bendick, Jeanne - Galen and the Gateway to Medicine
Medicine and surgery before 1800Medieval and Renaissance EuropeSalerno and the medical schools
Misconceptions about Islamic and Greek Science: Summarised extracts from a full article, see resources below, where end notes, references and bibliography are given. by: Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ayurveda, nature's medicine, introduction, pp 9-10
By David Frawley, Subhash Ranade
Published by Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2004

Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.

Traditional Western Herbal Medicine evolved from the Greeks who were strongly influenced by the Egyptians and Middle Eastern civilizations. In fact, with the similarities between these civilizations; universally based on the concepts of a pervasive life energy, the elements and humours, one can make a Planetary Herbal Medicine.

The humoural system is elucidated in a treatise called "Affections" in the Hippocratic Corpus which states: "In men, all diseases are caused by bile and phlegm. Bile and phlegm give rise to diseases when they become too dry or too wet or too hot or too cold in the body"; and the author goes on to state how such derangement's are precipitated by imbalances in food and drink, exercise, injuries, "smell, hearing and sight", sexual excesses and "hot" and "cold" themselves.

The Four humors of the Greeks

1. Sanguine (air) hot/moist 3. Phlegmatic (water) cold/moist

2. Melancholic (earth) cold, dry 4. Choleric (fire) hot/dry

Sanguine qualities in an individual exhibited symptoms of heat and moisture, ruddy complexion, cheerful, confident and optimistic, with a tendency toward feverish, inflammatory diseases.

Melancholic qualities had opposing qualities of cold, dryness, pale complexion, heightened sensitivity and visionary tendencies. These were more susceptible to nervous and reproductive disorders.

Phlegmatic qualities were cold and moist, duller, slower with less sensitivity than the sanguine. Theirs was a tendency toward diseases associated with congestion, stagnation, rheumatic and mucus conditions.

Choleric qualities in an individual being hot and dry were the opposite of phlegmatic. They would tend to have a hot and fiery temperament, thus more easily angered. They tended to develop liver diseases, high blood pressure, rashes, sun sensitivity, burns and fevers with little perspiration.

Galenical dietetics and medicine

The second century Greek physician Claudius Galenos, known as Galen (130 a.d.), was responsible for assimilating and reorganizing disparate medical theories and transforming them on the basis of an interrelated energetic context. This was further elaborated upon by the Persian Ibn Sina (Avicenna) of the 11th century. For the next 1500 years Western medicine was termed Galenical and extended its influence throughout Europe and into the New World.

It was superceded by the discoveries of other elements and chemicals by primitive 16th century chemists and finally the rationalist philosophy of the 18th century. It was completely overthrown by experiments of the French biochemist, Francois Magendie in the 1st decade of the 1800s.

Unani Tibb medicine is based on the late 10thand early 11th century Avicenna and Galen. Galen believed in a vital energy or creative force that he called "pneuma" that is similar in concept to the Chinese concept of "qi" and the Ayurvedic "prana." Like Hippocrates, he accepted the concept of the "humours" which arise out of the liver and form a subtle network throughout the body. He also assigned foods and herbs to each of the four humours that form the basis of "galenical" dietetics and medicine that was accepted throughout Europe and the Middle East for 1500 years.

Herbs and foods were Energetically classified as hot or cold, in fact, there are four degrees each of hot and cold, making a total of eight possible categories into which a food may be placed.

Cold in the first degree
Cold in the second degree
Cold in the Third degree
Cold in the Fourth degree

Hot in the first degree
Hot in the second degree
Hot in the third degree
Hot in the fourth degree

First degree: affects metabolism, but not in any way discerned by overt physical sensation. Slightest action. Water is an example of a first-degree substance.

Second degree: Acts upon the body, causing metabolic change, but in the end is overwhelmed by the body. All nutrients belong in this category. Among the actions caused by second-degree substances are opening of pores, initiation of peristaltic action, perspiration and stimulation of digestion. Ginger is an example of the second degree. Third degree: Not acted upon by the body, but acts upon the body. All medicinal substances belong to this category. An example is senna pods, which overwhelm the eliminative powers of the colon and force evacuation. Fourth degree: Poisons. Cause cessation of metabolic function. Some herbs are used as medicine from this category, but only in the most minute strengths and under the direct supervision of a physician. Hemlock and belladonna are examples of the fourth degree.

The difference between these degrees in terms of hot and cold values, is that a second-degree hot-substance would speed up metabolism, while a second-degree cold would slow it down. In the extreme fourth-degree, the difference would become more apparent, when a hot herb would cause an increase of metabolism beyond the limits that support life, while a fourth-degree cold substance would slow down metabolism to the point of death.

Such theories, common to most ancient civilizations, point out the essential difference in perspective between the holistic objectives of traditional medicine of diverse countries, in contrast to that of contemporary Western medicine.

Traditional vs. contemporary approach

The traditional approach tends to be more integrative, emphasizing the attainment of health through a combined holistic integrating body, mind and spirit, using diet, exercise and lifestyle changes as well as ritual, chants and prayer.

The contemporary Western medical approach tends to be disintegrative and myopic; viewing the body more mechanically as a conglomerate of separate physiological organs and molecules. The emphases is in merely relieving symptoms rather than maintaining health, while the ancient approach provides a wider perspective. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

A.J. Collins, M.D.

Introduction by Dr. Michael Tierra

This is a piece of medical history. American Eclecticism was an officially recognized branch of North American medicine that predominantly used Native American herbs. Today, American herbalists are looking back to these forerunners as models of how to further evolve a rich herbal tradition into the 21st century and beyond. The Eclectics counted a number of highly dedicated and great doctors including doctor's Milton Scudder, John King, John Felter, Ellingwood and Eli Jones with literally thousands of Eclectic medical doctors practicing throughout the US. Thy were the first officially recognized medical school to admit and graduate both women and blacks as Eclectic doctors. In the course of nearly a century they evolved a system of medicine that integrated diagnosis and the use of specific herbs that more than hinted at the universal principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine.

They were eclectic in the sense that they integrated whatever worked, including herbal medicine and homeopathy. Taking pride in all things American, they incorporated Native American herbal medicine and the work of Samuel Thompson as part of their eclectic practice. Perhaps one of our eclectic scholars can provide the date of publication of this pamphlet. It is obvious that it was written before 1900 and probably sometime around 1875. It also provides a glimpse of the state of medicine during the 19th century. I recommend reading this because it clearly demonstrates the superiority of an herbal based medicine before the advent of 20th century wonder drugs and technological medicine. In this, it shows that perhaps we were overly enthusiastic in condemning herbal medicine to obsolescence in the early part of the 20th century (the last Eclectic school closed its doors in 1939). It implies that there is a real value to the recognition and inclusion of herbal medicine in the ongoing health care of all people. Today, the Legacy of the Eclectics is stored in the Lloyd library in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is probably the greatest botanical library in the Western world.

What is the Eclectic School of Medicine?
Who are Eclectic Physicians?

This is the question that first occurs to the mind of the reader. Interrogate the Allopathic (or, as they are sometimes pleased to call themselves, "regular") physicians, and they will tell you pompously that the Eclectics are Botanics, or Thomsonians, or still by others that they are electric doctors, etc., and that they are perfectly synonymous with humbug and quack.

This definition, given with a show of candor and truthfulness, you are not bound to take as conclusive. You have merely listened to one side of the discussion. To do away, if possible, with some of the manifold misconceptions regarding the Eclectic school of medicine; to present the truth of the system in a clear, concise manner; to answer briefly some of the many slanders leveled against it, is the task which the writer proposes to take upon himself.

To those who may wish to be enlightened on the subject, I may be permitted to remark that the proper sources of information are not to be found in the tirades of abuse, libels and misrepresentations of its enemies, but rather in the teachings of those who are its exponents. If you wish to ascertain the truths of the Christian religion, you do not ask the infidel; so, also if you desire an explanation of the laws governing the movements of the heavenly bodies, you do not question an ignoramus or an illiterate.

For like reasons, if you care to understand the fundamental principles of the Eclectic school of medicine, quiz not the old school doctor, for he is both inimical to and ignorant of them. Articles have been written, speeches made, and arguments advanced against Eclecticism, by intelligent allopathic physicians, which never touched the veriest outposts of the Eclectic doctrinal fortifications. Therefore, we can not think it strange that the public is ignorant of them. Taking the dictum of the family physician in regard to the matter, as the physician takes the assertions of his teachers in college, without question or cavil, opinions are formed which are utterly absurd and ridiculously erroneous. By education, inclination and interest, the old school physician is peculiarly unfitted to speak with candor or intelligence upon this question. With but few exceptions, when they do study the "specific" or Eclectic practice of medicine, they do so from the standpoint of partisan prejudice, as an atheist studies the Bible.

The only true way to study any system of medicine is to test it practically at the bedside in treating the sick. Theorizing is an extremely poor substitute for practical work. Not one in a thousand of them ever study the new school system of medicine by practicing it. "Why," you will exclaim, "our doctor says he is eclectic in treating the sick; that he makes use of the best remedies taken from any and every source."

Yes, we know all about that. If you are of an investigative turn of mind, the next time you are in your doctor's office, ask him to let you see an Eclectic or Homeopathic on the practice of medicine. Ten to one he can't do it. The writer has met a goodly number of such old school doctors who out of interest profess to be eclectic, and as yet has failed to discover one who possessed Eclectic works in his library.

To answer the questions intelligently, "Who are Eclectic physicians? And what it is that is denominated the Eclectic school of medicine," it will be necessary to briefly sketch, from 1827 to the present time,

A Brief History of Medicine

The Eclectic system of medicine had its birth in a popular conviction that the old school system of medicine (call it, allopathic or regular, if you wish) was erroneous in its principles, unsuccessful, unpleasant, and murderous in its practice -- in fact, dangerous to the lives and health of those who were compelled to employ it.

One has but for a moment to consider the character of this "regular" practice, during the early part of the present century, to fully comprehend the motives which prompted the principal actors of the Eclectic school in the organization of a new school of medicine.

Disease was looked upon as an entity -- a devil, as it were -- to be removed by violent means; a state of over activity, to be reduced by antiphlogistic or tearing-down treatment. Whatever the malady, especially if acute, every means employed debilitated the patient and it was only when the extreme prostration forbade the further employment of these methods - then and then only -- that a stimulant and tonic treatment was adopted. The patient was picked up upon the point of the lancet, and carried to the brink of eternity, and then every art made use of to bring him back.

After bloodletting came free purgation, mercury in its different forms, antimony to sicken the stomach and relax the system, blisters, with medicine in large doses to influence the kidneys and skin. They were used in the order named, and as rapidly as possible. The purgative followed on the heels of the lancet, mercury forming a part of it. The calomel was then given for its constitutional influences by combining it with opium; tartar emetic given to sicken the stomach and relax the system, and the blister proportionate to the extent of the pain or the size of the part affected.

With such treatment the appetite for food was lost, digestion impaired, and starvation added as a part of the regimen. Mercury and water were thought to be opposed to each other; and as the first was fully and freely given, the latter was withheld for fear of salivation.

One must need have lived in those days, and have seen the sick, to realize the terrible character of the regular treatment of this "regular school of medicine." The miserable patients, suffering from disease, were tormented continuously by nauseant drugs, by unutterable sickness of the stomach, the torments of physic, the suffering from blisters, and the terrible thirst, which, like that of Dives, cried to heaven for relief; but no Lazarus could cross the gulf and give the cup of cold water to moisten the parched tongue. The blisters were drawn, clipped, poulticed; and not unfrequently the odor arising from them could be recognized as soon as the door of the house was opened. "For, fear of taking cold" patients were unwashed, clothing and bed clothing allowed to become dirty, -- dirt and bad odors, indeed, were characteristics of the treatment.

The mortality was large, ranging from ten to fifty per cent in the ordinary diseases of the country. So imminent was death under such treatment that many people refused to call the physicians, if it were possible to be avoided, preferring to trust nature and domestic remedies. The increased death-rate might hare been borne (for the dead are relieved from suffering) but the slow convalescence and the frequency of chronic disease of the stomach, bowel, and liver, following the simple diseases of the country, informed the people in language that could not be misunderstood that there was a serious wrong of the practice of the day.

The diseases following the treatment were of a character not well mistaken -- the loss of teeth, decaying bones, disease of liver and bowels, mercurial rheumatism, and other affections too numerous to mention. The frequency of these unpleasantnesses added to their already distrust in this practice. Many have witnessed all I have named; many have experienced some of it. To them it is an unpleasant reality.

This constituted the howling, barbaric farce, called "scientific medicine," given by the old school to suffering humanity, during the first half of the present century -- "Records," as they are pleased to term it, of the "fathers of medicine," to which the self-styled "regular" school of the present day point with such pride, and refer to so tenderly.

In many sections of this country a very similar practice, in a modified form, is pursued to-day, and very similar results are obtained.

The practice is called "regular," and the one striking peculiarity of the gentlemen who hold to it is their exclusiveness, their self-sufficiency and their inability to learn of others.

The Allopathic, or as they are pleased to call themselves, "the regular school of medicine," has ever been slow to improve upon their treatment of the sick. Why is it that to-day they are behind the age in the curative art? I will tell you. They have from time immemorial to the present time been ruled, as it were, with a rod of iron by as dogmatic, illiberal a "code of medical laws" as the world has ever known. This antiquated relic of the dark ages of the world's history that this so-called "regular school" has clung to so tenaciously, and to which they so heartily subscribe, exerts a powerful influence upon its, members, be he a member of State or National society, or not.

By it he is, as it were, hedged within prescribed boundaries, beyond the limits of which he dare not go in his investigation of the medical treatment of the sick, under no less penalty than that of being excommunicated, or "cast out" from professional fellowship. So say the authorities of his school; and from their decision there is no appeal. The mandate has gone forth, and it is final. To him their word and sayings are law. They are his authority. All outside the rank and file of old-school physic, be they ever so learned, intelligent, or successful in the treatment of the sick, are to him not worthy of a moment's notice or consideration.

Eclectic Organization

The earlier Eclectics were a sturdy class of men. Seeing the wrongs of the medical practice, noting its disastrous results, and knowing the superiority of the milder means, they did vigorous battle for what they deemed right, and against what they believed a gross wrong. Believing that the treatment was killing thousands and wrecking the health of millions, they said so in plain English.

On May 3rd, 1830, the following was adopted by the "Reform Medical Society" of the United States:

    "Resolved, That this society deem it expedient to establish an additional school in some town on the Ohio River, or some of its tributaries, in order that the people of the West may avail them of the advantages resulting from it scientific knowledge of botanic medication."

In accordance with the resolution a college was established at Worthington, Ohio, in 1830 under a university charter obtained by Bishop Chase, Prof. T. V. Morrow, being the leading spirit.

"Martyrs are the seed of the church," and the persecution meted out to pioneers of the Eclectic practice in those early days had much to do with its wonderful growth.

In 1842 this college was removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1845 the Eclectic Medical Institute was chartered in its stead by special act of the Ohio legislature. To-day it stands with few equals, and no superior, in point of wealth, and the thorough training it gives its numerous students. It is the oldest Eclectic medical institution of America.

At the organization of the American Medical Association (old school) in May 1847, quite a respectable minority of progressive, liberty-loving medical men rebelled at being bound, as it were, in medical slavery. They believed the practice of medicine of the day a wrong, and the code of medical laws that they were asked to subscribe to an infamy, and they had the manhood to say so. For doing this they were hounded by ridicule and persecution out from among their former associates.

The year following, in May, 1848, the National Medical Association (Eclectic) was organized, and immediately proclaimed to the world, and inscribed it upon, their banner that "DISEASE WAS AN IMPAIRMENT OF LIFE," and not an entity to be removed by violent and pernicious drugs, but rather by a conservative and supportive treatment. Dame Nature should be assisted back to health.

It will be noticed that it required only a year of organized social and professional ostracism, with a concerted effort to establish an Allopathic censorship over medical reformers (as the new school of physicians was then called) to make it necessary for the assailed to organize and accept a distinctive name, Eclectic (a word of Greek origin and signifies "I select"), -- founded, as it were, because of the egotism, bigotry, and antagonism to investigation and progress that did then, and has ever characterized what is sometimes denominated the "regular school of medicine."

There is no more ignoble record on the pages of medical history than that which is to be found in the conduct of this "regular" medicine, so called, towards the new school and its supporters. "As briefly stated in the preceding pages, these were the causes of the disruption in the medical world a half century ago. The results have amply proven the justice of the cause, and there are few who will have the temerity to deny the assertion that great good has come out of this reform movement."

Allopathic Claim to Eclecticism

There are many persons who, while admitting the above facts, argue that the Eclectic school of medicine has fully accomplished the objects of its organization; that the practice of the "old school" has been modified and changed, and is now altogether different, etc.; that the cause for existence as a school is no longer present; that all schools are eclectic in the sense that they choose the best from all sources. To such we invite a rigid comparison of the principles and practice of the two schools at the present day.

Specific Medication

As taught and practiced by the Eclectic school at this time, is a great advance and improvement over their practice of fifty years ago, and is as much ahead of the old school now as it was then. The early Eclectics were content in their efforts to abate the evil practices of old-school physic, and accomplished this. They trusted to their successors the developments that have since been made.

Eclectics give a remedy because it is indicated by certain well-known symptoms. They have studied the remedies of each school with reference to this matter -- all that has been written for the past two hundred years; and they have carefully noted the cases where the remedy acted well, and where the symptoms were named. These experiments have been made to determine the "specific" or positive relationship of symptoms with the curative action of medicine, until at last the indications for its uses during the treatment of any given case of disease were defined. The entirety of specific medication has been built upon this. Chosen in this way, the action of a given remedy can be predicted, and is entirely satisfactory in practice.

The Difference

A remedy selected by this law becomes a powerful help to nature in her work of restoration, and never reacts against the patient. The sick organ or part is simply helped back into a condition of health -- medicine doesn't overshoot and hit the patient. The Allopathic, or old school, is guided by no law in the administration of their remedies; they depend alone upon the accumulated experience of years of experimentation.

Even now hundreds of new remedies are being continually sent out by enterprising chemists, and old ones are as constantly falling into disrepute. Many old medicines discarded in disgust, after lying dormant many years, are brought before the profession with a great flourish of trumpets, to finally sink into oblivion. Here is the way the Weekly Medical Gazette, of Vienna, one of the foremost old-school journals of the world, speaks of the matter, and as it comes fresh from their headquarters, we have no reason to doubt the correctness of their own statement regarding themselves at this time:

"Building goes on briskly at the therapeutic Tower of Babel; what one recommends another condemns; what one gives in large doses another scarce dares to prescribe in small doses; and what one vaunts as a novelty another thinks not worth rescuing from merited oblivion. All is confusion, contradiction, inconceivable chaos. Every country, every place, almost every doctor, have their own pet remedies, without which they imagine their patients can not be cured; and all this changes every year, aye every mouth."

Thus we see, guided by no law of cure, the Allopathic or self-styled "regular" practice, is groping in the dark. We are not surprised, therefore, to hear prominent members of that profession speak of their shot-gun, uncertain practice with disgust; and I deem it not out of place to herewith quote some of the late sayings of their most distinguished members, for "Out of thine own mouth have we condemned thee."

"The science of medicine is founded on conjecture, and improved by murder." - Sir Astley Cooper.

"My opinion is that more harm than good is done by physicians, and I am convinced that had I left my patients to nature, instead of prescribing drugs, more would have been saved." - Dr. Hufeland.

"The physician then being a blind man with a club, who, as chance directs the weight of his blow, will be certain of annihilating nature or the disease." - Dr. Maunsel.

"Medicine, poor science! Doctors, poor philosophers! Patients, poor victims I" - Dr. Frappart.

"We have assisted in multiplying diseases; we have done more -- we have increased their mortality." - Dr. Rush.

"The science of medicine is a barbarous jargon and the effects of our medicine on the human system are in the highest degree uncertain, except indeed that they have already destroyed more lives than war, pestilence, and famine combined." - Dr. Mason Good.

"Ina large proportion of cases treated by physicians the disease is cured by nature, not by them. In a lesser, but not a small proportion, the disease is cured by nature in spite of them." -Sir John Forbes.

"If all drugs were cast into the sea, it would be so much the better for mankind, and so much the worse for the fishes." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Nine-tenths of diseases are medical diseases." - Dr. Farre.

"We have no rational therapeutics." -- Professor Virchow.

"We do not know what is disease, how remedies act, and still less how diseases are cured. We must abandon the way which has thus far been followed." -- Professor Hencker.

"Since the time of the Greeks and Romans medicine has made no progress, or hardly any, It should be reconstructed upon an entirely now basis. " - Shoenlein

"No science contains so many sophisms, errors, dreams, and lies as medicine." -- Richter.

"If I dared to say just what I think, I should add that it is chiefly in the service where the medication is the most active and heroic that the mortality is the greatest. Gentlemen, medicine is charlatanism." -- Professor Magendie.

"Medical precepts in most cases are veritable absurdities." -- Prof. Gregory, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

"Therapeutics and materia medica are in this day in the chaos of a transition.' --Trousseau.

"We must really agree with Bamberger, who thinks that the greater part of patients who die, of endocarditis even, have succumbed not to the disease, but to the remedy." -- Professor Niemeyer.

Wunderlich said to his pupils one day: "Gentlemen, there is such a chaos in our therapeutics that we ought to be thankful for any good advice, whether it comes from an old woman, a shepherd, a blacksmith, or even a Homeopath."

Dr. H. C. Wood recently wrote: "What to-day is to be believed is to-morrow to be cast aside, certainly has been the law of advancement, and seemingly must continue to be so. With what a babel of discordant voices does it [medicine] celebrate its two thousand years of experience!"

This is sad, but very significant testimony, coming as it does from prominent practitioners of this so-called "regular" school of medicine, bright and shining lights of a school that boast of their great descent, their antiquity, and their accumulated knowledge. After listening to their evidence the unprejudiced reader can not but be impressed, and that forcibly, that their great descent is "what's the matter" with them.

Ransack Eclectic literature, and you will find no such disgraceful admissions. Eclecticism is founded on a law of nature, of life, and therefore is satisfied.

Close Work

The Eclectic practice of medicine is no child's play. There is no routine about it. We treat diseases not according to their names, but according to their nature. The study of specific medication (based upon the law of choosing) for well defined pathological or diseased conditions requires continual work, investigation and study. A man with a thimbleful of brains and no education may disgrace Eclecticism, but he can never practice it. Thus guided in the selection of his remedies, the Eclectic is not obliged to resort to the disgusting "shot-gun" practice of the old-school doctor, in combining six to a dozen nauseous drugs in one prescription, but rather applies his remedies singly or in simple combination direct to the diseased part. The Allopath being the poorer marksman prefers the shotgun; the Eclectic, guided by his unerring law, takes the rifle.

Quality, not Quantity

The quantity of any medicine determines merely the intensity of the quality. The great thing is to get the right medicine in the right place. If we have not the right medicine, an increase of quantity will only make matters worse.

Some people will take a few doses of medicine from an Eclectic, and if it don't cure at once, they think there is nothing in it. But they will take large doses of strong drugs week after week, and though they do not improve, they think it is all right because the medicine has a big bulk and a powerful taste. They think it is doing something. Well, so do we. It oftentimes gives the undertaker a job.

When a patient dies under our treatment -- for the windowless chamber of death is the destiny of all -- it is never because he didn't have medicine enough, but because the recuperative powers of nature were not sufficient to repair the damage done the system by disease. Medicines can only assist in a cure.

Improved Medicines

The early Eclectics administered the various remedies principally in the form of infusions (i. e., teas and powders), but with the constant investigation and progress of the Eclectic school came an improvement in the quality of the remedies used. With them the dirty, trashy, unreliable black tinctures and so-called fluid extracts that are in such common use by the old school at the present time to us are memories of the very distant past. They may be good enough for the "regular" doctor, but to an Eclectic who only appreciates the best, they are worthless.

A class of remedies termed "specific medicines," made from the fresh prime drug gathered in its proper season, free from dirt, and as entirely free from coloring matter (as that is no medicinal part) as possible, prepared with the greatest care, regardless of expense, are the preparations we use. Being pure, their action is positive, concentrated; the dose is small, and not so unpleasant to the patient.

Dispensing Medicine

Your Allopath, old school doctor, who is pleased to call himself "regular," is, and has always been, an ardent admirer of the drug store. In fact from the number and variety of prescriptions he is pleased to send them, he has often times been charged with getting a per cent of the proceeds. Whether this is true or not, the Eclectic holds that it is much the better practice for the physician to largely dispense his own remedies at the time when they are needed. There is greater certainty that the remedies are good, less liability to mistakes, less trouble to the person or family, besides the saving of valuable time.

Calomel Doctors

Is the title that members of the Allopathic or old school won for themselves, and by which they were popularly known years ago. In many sections these "regulars" are still known to the public by the above name. That they deservingly gained this great distinction no well-informed individual will for a moment deny. They gave this drug in and out of season, most freely, fully, and perseveringly, first, last, and all the time. They gave it both early and late, and for any and everything, oftentimes with the most disastrous results. Even now, at the noonday of the nineteenth century, they deem no treatment complete without the addition of a "little calomel."

The extravagant use of this poison was one of the great evils that the early Eclectics turned their attention to and opposed so bitterly. It is the abuse that Eclectics object to, rather than the use of the drug

Mercury, in its various forms, is used by all schools at the present day, although, through the untiring efforts of Eclectics, the method of its administration has been so modified that the harm resulting from its use is not so great as in former years. Many persons, and among them physicians of the old school, believe that Eclectics do not use mercury; but in this they are mistaken, as our literature will show, though we do not use it extensively.

Eclectic Treatment

Our treatment is seldom unpleasant. It is not a fight with the little folks to compel them to take it, and a wry mouth with the big ones. Ours is safe, never followed by bad results. As the Irish man said, our medicines don't "keep the patient sick four weeks after he gets well." Old-school treatment is unsafe, and frequently followed by painful and otherwise distressing consequences. Ours cures more quickly, because we relieve the diseased part direct without affecting other organs. Theirs cures less quickly, because, owing to drug complications, it many times takes their patients as long to recover from their treatment as it does from the disease. Ours cures more surely, because, by treating the sick part directly without assaulting the physiological integrity of the healthy parts, "we husband all the life forces." Theirs cures less surely, because of the mass of medicine given having indirect action, resulting many times in the establishment of "drug diseases" in healthy parts, for a drug disease uses up as much life-force as any other of the same extent.

One of our recent writers very aptly remarked: "It may be unkind, though it is just, to remark that the Allopathic school has been fifty years in reaching some of the vantage points taken by the founders of the Eclectic school of medicine, and at the present pace they will yet be many years in reaching others.

"It is no uncommon occurrence for old-school medical journals at the present time to herald the discovery of a drug as possessing superior powers over certain conditions, while the same drug has been used for like conditions by the Eclectic school for a quarter or half a century.

"Eclectics have ever been progressive in their methods, and as a result there are as great differences between the schools now as fifty years ago.

"The old school has seemed to take delight in calling all dissenters from their doctrines irregulars, in contradistinction to their own self-styled regular school; but we fail to see in what they are or have been regular, outside of intolerance, and relentless persecution of every advance not made along their lines. Surely they are not regular in their practice, for according to their own testimony, besides our knowledge of it, we know there is nothing more irregular. They derisively ask us what we have accomplished in the way of advancement, whereas if they would subdue their intolerant egotism and read our literature they would at once learn that much has been accomplished.

"As a school, we do not profess to be superior in all departments of medicine, but in the domain of medical treatment we do profess to stand supreme. All are agreed that this is the most important, and the one to which all others are subservient. We do not refuse to accept whatever they have discovered that is valuable, and in this we enjoy an advantage which they waive by their refusal to accept the results of our observation."

Present Status of Eclecticism -- Hospital Statistics

When it comes to a comparison of the records of hospitals and treatment of epidemic diseases, the Eclectic school of medicine makes a very favorable showing. It cures more cases than the old school. Eclectics have proportionate control in some hospitals of the North and East, and their students have equal advantages with all others. The new Mitchell-Thomas Hospital at Springfield, Ohio, is now under the control of Eclectics, and the results are highly satisfactory.

In the public hospitals of New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Springfield, Des Moines, San Francisco, Atlanta, carefully compiled statistics are kept as to the results of treatments of all diseases. The following in brief is the record to date, taking them altogether, and throughout they show a lower death rate for the Eclectic practice:

Eclectic Treatment Allopathic Treatment.
Deaths per cent. Deaths per cent
Pneumonia, 16 41
Pleuritis, 3 6
Peritonitis, 14 61
Dysentery, 3 13
Small-pox, 5 28
Diphtheria and Croup, 18 37.5
Typhoid Fever, 5 14
Yellow Fever, 12 35
Cholera, 23.3 40
All Diseases, 4.2 6.3

Eclectic Institutions of Learning

There are at the present time eight colleges and. universities regularly chartered by the States wherein they are situated, and recognized by the National Eclectic Medical Association as being of good standing. The advantages possessed by these colleges for thorough medical training are fully equal to any in the land.

A year or so ago the "National" took a step in advance of all other associations, by deciding that all students applying for graduation in these colleges must have read medicine for four years and attended three sessions of medical lectures one more year of attendance and study then demanded by the old school of their unsophisticated students. To them I would say, "Hop up, brother, or the public will believe that your 'regular' claim for a higher education is in keeping with your bombastic claim of being the medical salt of the earth."

Good Company

The Eclectic practice is patronized mostly by that class of people who read, observe, and think for themselves. In the North, East, and West, where Eclectics are numerous and long established a majority of the educated and most prominent people 'employ Eclectic physicians. 7 he lower classes of society generally employ that class of doctors who give something so strong that two or three doses turn the patient inside out, or they will think "nothing is being done." The greater the ignorance of the patient, the louder demand for ''Strong'' medicine when sick.

Schools of Medicine

There are three regular schools of medicine --the Allopathic, Eclectic, and Homeopathic. They all study the same anatomy physiology, chemistry, pathology, pathological anatomy, and microscopy, pursuing a regular course in each. In obstetrics and surgery they differ only in medical treatment. Let this fact be placed prominently before you--that in all the departments of medicine the three schools are alike, save in the important branch of medical treatment. One school is just as regular as the other. The absurd position as taken by members of the Allopathic or old school of medicine, that they are the only "Simon pure" and regular article in the market; that all outside their camps are ignoramuses and quacks, is too ridiculous to receive a moment's consideration from an intelligent person.

Eclecticism extends the right hand of friendship to Homeopathy and accepts all it has positively shown to have proven of value in the treatment of the sick. Giving the credit where it belongs, Eclectics have reaped a valued harvest from the investigations of this medical school, which they have added to their own therapeutic wealth. In return Homeopathy is indebted to the Eclectic school for the discovery and proving of many new and important remedies, chiefly from the indigenous medical plants of this country.

Homeopathy is a divided household. One-fourth of its followers give medicine in doses so small that it would be very difficult to convince any one as to its having an effect at all. The remaining portion buy Eclectic literature, patronize Eclectic chemists, and give their remedies in appreciable doses, studying the relationship of drug action to diseased conditions, and with the exception of name and the minor detail of theory as to "the why" of curative action of medicines, are, to all intents and purposes, Eclectic physicians. We have been associated with these medical gentlemen in college, hospital and private practice for a number of years, and we know whereof we speak. To them we would say, "Come out and get under your true colors.''

Progress Of Eclecticism

Born less than a century ago, by a growth before unparalleled in the history of medicine, it has from its infant state developed into its present Herculean proportions. Never before has there occurred in the medical world so radical a change in the method of combating disease. Based upon demonstrated facts, and not experimental theories, it has advanced and spread wherever education and intelligence predominate over illiteracy and ignorance, and against what obstacles! -- The bitterest persecution, hatred, and opposition of the old school of medicine, their continued efforts in and without the legislative halls of the country to have laws enacted to wipe us, as it were, out of existence; and last, but not least, we have made this progress against the disgrace of quacks, numbskulls frauds, ignoramuses, and otherwise incompetent men claiming to be of our own ranks. They hurt us more because their failures are put down to the discredit of the Eclectic school. People have fallen into the hands of the impostors, and supposed they were trying the Eclectic practice. But in the end the real has always been distinguished from the false.

Regardless of all this the Eclectic school of medicine has been moving straight onward, healing the sick, and daily growing in favor with the people, for as the people of our free land scorned a religious Pharisee, so they disdain a medical Pharisee who can stand up with a brass brow and thank God that he is "regular;" that he knows it all. The intelligent people of this country long ago made up their minds that they are not going to be eternally punished with "strong medicines" when any other system of treatment promises to do better, and then does it.

The principles and practice of the Eclectic school, founded as it is upon a law of nature and organic life, will continue to make progress over all opposition. Being indigenous to American soil, it recognizes no monarchs and no serfs in the realm of intellect. Desiring the common good of humanity as its highest aim, it builds no barriers through which afflicted mankind may not profit by the combined resources of all the medical world. Seeing in courtesy and manly forbearance virtues higher than the mere aggrandizement of sect, it reaches out the hand of fellowship to all educated medical men the world over.

The code of medical laws by which it is governed is as broad and kind as philanthropy itself. With its regularly organized and chartered colleges, its departments in State universities, its numerous journals and other periodic literature, its twenty thousand practitioners and millions of patrons, its National Association, its State societies all over this union, and its medical works upon practice teaching the innermost points concerning a medical system which is exerting a. liberalizing influence upon the whole medical world to-day, -- a system that is too broad for the partisan, too generous for the bigot, and based upon too much intelligence for the ignoramus, we do not crave the recognition of the so-called "regular" school of medicine; we have, and can succeed without it.

"In the heat of a closely contested battle, the color sergeant bore the flag far ahead of the column it represented, and the commanding officer cried, Bring back those colors!' The man at the front replied, 'Bring your men up; these colors don't come back!' And so to-day our school has advanced beyond the darkness and uncertainty of Allopathic teaching. The light of a better day already dawns upon their banners; their pulses beat with a hope born of success already achieved. The past calls for gratitude; the future is inspiring. And to the frantic cries and appeals of old time medicine, who are afraid they will be altogether left in the fog, and would have us come back, we say: 'No, gentlemen; improve your methods. Come up to us if you will; but our cry is, ''Excelsior, we do not come back!"

"While the grass grows and the rivers run to the sea, Eclecticism, or the American practice of medicine, will be perpetuated."

Further resources on herbal Eclecticism contact the website of the Lloyd library. for reprints of some of the most important Eclectic publications write to the Eclectic Institute 11231 SE Market, Portland, OR 97216, USA

Egyptian Herbal Medicine

Egyptian medicine was widely respected throughout the ancient Mediterranean world.

The earliest written records of its practices are to be found in the Ebers Papyrus, dating from the sixteenth century BC. This is historically of value since in itself, it represents a compilation of earlier works that contain a large number (877) of prescriptions and recipes. Once again we see how many of the plants currently used by herbalists are mentioned, including opium, cannabis, myrrh, frankincense, castor oil, fennel, cassia, senna, thyme, henna, juniper, linseed, aloe and castor oil. Cloves of garlic have been found in Egyptian burials, including the tomb of Tutankhamun and in the sacred underground temple of the bulls at Saqqara.

In a somewhat cryptic statement about the pyramid builders by Herodotus (since there are no inscriptions relating to the affairs of mortals involved with this monumental enterprise), it is claimed that to aid endurance, they consumed large quantities of garlic and onions. Garlic was an important healing agent to the ancient Egyptians just as it still is to the modern Egyptian Copts and in all Mediterranean countries. At a later time, Pliny, the Roman, devotes a lengthy section of praise to the use of garlic. Raw garlic was routinely given to asthmatics and for those suffering with other bronchial-pulmonary complaints.

Fresh Garlic cloves can be peeled and mashed and macerated in a equal parts vinegar and water. This can be used to gargle, rinse the mouth, or take internally to treat sore throats and toothache. Another delicious way to take garlic both for prevention as well as treatment is to macerate several cloves of mashed garlic in olive oil. This can be used as an external liniment or taken internally for all bronchial and lung complaints including colds. A freshly peeled clove of raw garlic wrapped in muslin or cheesecloth and pinned to the undergarment will protect against infectious diseases such as colds and flus. Besides these, garlic has many more uses when applied externally or internally to relieve pain, promote healing, stimulate digestion, stimulate sexual libido, treat insomnia and to eliminate and prevent parasites. In fact, it has been said that garlic is able to effectively treat all diseases except the ones it causes. If this is a problem, one can use parsley to alleviate the strong smelling breath, or use deodorized or fermented enteric coated garlic products that are currently commercially available.

Other herbs used by the Egyptians include:

Coriander (C. Sativum): commonly used by the ancient and modern Egyptians (Copts). It is considered to have cooling, stimulant, carminative and digestive properties. Both the seeds and the plant are used as a spice in cooking to prevent and eliminate flatulence, they are also taken as a tea for stomach and all kinds of urinary complaints including cystitis. Coriander leaves are commonly added fresh to spicy foods to moderate their irritating effects. Coriander was one of the herbs offered to the temple by the king, and seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun and in other ancient burial sites.

Cumin seeds (Cumin cyminum): is an umbelliferous herb indigenous to Egypt. The seeds are considered to be stimulant and carminative. They are often used together with coriander for flavoring (especially in curries together with turmeric). Besides its use as a condiment it has many medicinal uses. Cumin powder mixed with a little wheat flour as a binder, mixed with a little water can be applied to relieve the pain of any aching or arthritic joints. Powdered cumin mixed with lard or pork fat can be inserted as an anal suppository to disperse heat from the anus and stop itching. A teaspoon of powdered cumin seeds mixed with a little honey can be taken along with warm milk to calm a cough.

Cyperus (C. esculentus): this plant belongs to a family that has many species growing through widely diverse areas of the world, the most famous being Egyptian papyrus, which was commonly used as a pulp for the manufacture of paper. There are several small varieties that grow wild as weeds in North America. A Chinese species known as "zhang fu" (C. rotundus) is used as a carminative and energy and hormone regulating herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Currently, the North American cyperus grass is merely regarded as another obnoxious weed, however, historically its small tuberous rhizomes were used both as a food and medicine by the Native Americans. Even today, the Egyptians cultivate a native species of cyperus in moist soils or sandy shores for their edible tubers. These are called "tiger nuts" and are first dried, then soaked in water. Reportedly, the taste is similar to hazelnuts. It was another species, the famous papyrus (C. papyrus), that the Egyptians used to make paper, sails, cloth, mats, ropes or plaited into sandals. I personally learned from a trip to the Peruvian Amazon jungle of a native species of cyperus that has had widespread use by tribal women as a natural contraceptive. Botanist, Dr. James Duke attributes this to a certain mold that grows on the root of the Amazonian species that has oxytoxic (abortive properties) similar to Ergot, a fungus that grows on rye.

The Egyptians were also well known for other healing techniques. They practiced various methods of spiritual healing, color healing, massage and surgery as well as the extensive use of therapeutic herbs and foods.

One interesting section in the Papyrus Ebers describes several charms and invocations that were used to encourage healing. One is used before taking an herbal remedy as follows: "Come Remedy! Come thou who expellest (evil) things in this my stomach and in these my limbs!" Obviously the ancient Egyptians had no problem utilizing the psychological aspect of healing to best advantage whenever possible

The most reknowned figure of Eqyptian healing was Imhotep. Honored as the first physician known by name, he evidently was an Egyptian physician and vizier (prime minister) to King Zoser of the third Egyptian dynasty. His fame was so great that after his death the Egyptians elevated him to the stature of a god and worshipped him for his healing powers.

He was the architect of Zoser's step pyramid at Saqqara. This is located a relatively short distance from the more famous great pyramids outside of Cairo. Despite the fact that the older pyramid in Saqqara is in a more advanced state of sandy ruin, its surrounding environs offers proof of a possible open sports and ceremonial arena, once verdant arbors and walkways, small niches for worship and meditation along the fragmented wall that encircles the enclave.

It is hard to imagine amidst the sand, that probably in ancient times, before the ravages of erosion from over cultivation, these sacred areas where once fertile and green. At Saqqara, there is evoked a sense of wonder as we conjure images of King Zoser and his chief philosopher and physician, Imhotep, contemplating and holding discourse on the mysteries of the universe.

The Egyptians believed that disease and death were neither natural nor inevitable, but was caused by some malign influence which might use any agency, natural or invisible, and very often was part of the spirit world. Often a god, a spirit, or the soul of a dead man was responsible for cunningly entering the psyche of a living person, or blamed for inflicting some irresistible violence or disease.

The Egyptian Shaman-physician had two important functions. First, to discover the nature of the particular entity possessing the person and then attack, drive it out, or otherwise destroy it. This was done by some powerful magic for which rituals, spells, incantations, talismans and amulets were used. Physical medicines such as herbs were only expected to assuage the pain while magic alone was expected to effect the cure.

The art of divination was first known to be used by the Mesopotamians (now occupying the area roughly encompassed by Iraq) along with the use of astrology to determine the influence of the stellar constellations on human welfare and medical ethics. The contributions of Crete were hygiene, temple medicine and the cult of the serpent deity. The symbol of the serpent was pervasive throughout ancient Mediterranean civilizations. It was positive when associated with healing rites and apparently negative as it is depicted assuming the form of Satan in the first book of Genesis.

Egyptian, along with other Mediterranean and Indian medicine was therefore strongly magico-religious even though there were many practical cures and remedies using herbs, minerals and various animal parts. Historically, hygiene (named after the ancient Greek goddess, Hygeia) has been one of the most decisive elements of health and with the ancient Egyptians, a high level of personal and social hygiene was attained.

Despite their tendency to worship strange animal headed deities, the Egyptians also tended to deify their outstanding physicians. Thus temples were erected to honor the humanized physician-god, Imhotep. Bronze statues of him have been preserved and found in burial cites as evidence of their deep respect. It is said that the Greeks later identified Imhotep with their own humanized god of healing, Asclepias. As the first historically recorded physician, a statue of Imhotep standing in the Hall of Immortals, is to be found at the International College of Surgeons in Chicago.

Greek Herbal Medicine

Through the process of exploration, conquest and more important, the desire to aid the sick, ancient civilizations tended to borrow and adopt the skills and knowledge of medicine and healing of various cultures to their own. When Alexander the Great conquered and encompassed virtually all of the known world -- Persia, Egypt, India and the rest, -- he did so with the intention of extolling the humanizing glory of Greece. All the nations brought under the wing of Greece, however, brought with them their own traditions and customs including their healing knowledge.

One year before his death in 323 BC, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria. It was here that the exchange of knowledge between all countries of the ancient world occurred. Ptolomy Soter, Egypt's ruler for almost forty years after Alexander's death, founded the huge Alexandrian library where up to seven hundred rolls of papyri were eventually collected and housed. Legend states that any stranger arriving there with a work not represented in the collection was detained until it was copied and placed in the library. One of the great intellectual tragedies was the destruction of the Alexandrian Library that at the time housed all the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world.

This tendency to fuse and build new empires upon the knowledge and remnants of the old can be seen in all areas of knowledge and artisanship down to the very disassembling of stone pillars and temples for use in their own buildings. Certainly it was of primary concern in terms of medicine and pharmacy. As Barbara Griggs points out in Green Pharmacy, "the drug inventories of the three great civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt and India show such remarkable similarities that there was obviously a continual exchange of discovery and information among the professionals."

Following are a few representative examples of 100's of herbs and their uses common to India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome:

Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis), while the plant is poisonous, the expressed thick, viscid oil is used as a powerful laxative and purgative. Dose: one teaspoon to two tablespoons in the evening.

Fennel Plant (Foeniculum vulgare), a member of the umbelliferae family, the stalks are eaten like celery while the seeds are used as a stomachic, carminative for the relief of intestinal colic and gas. It is also very beneficial for the liver, aiding regeneration of liver cells and therefore making it a pleasant flavoring addition to formulas with the many bitter herbs customarily used as cholagogues for the liver. Dose: 1 tsp. steeped in a cup of water; of the liquid extract, 20 to 30 drops; of the oil, one to two drops.

Linseed or flax seed (linum usitatissimum) is used as a soothing demulcent, emollient, laxative, antitussive and pectoral. It is applied externally as a poultice for burns, scalds, boils etc. and also made into a soothing cough medicine.

Asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida), which is the gum resin of the roots, has antispasmodic, expectorant and carminative properties, making it a good substitute for garlic and very useful to prevent and eliminative colic and gas and aiding digestion and assimilation. It is also used as an antispasmodic nervine to calm hysteria and nervousness and emotional symptoms associated with PMS, food allergies and candidiasis. Dose: 0.3 to 1 gram two or three times daily.

Galangal (Alpinia officinarum) used similarly to ginger as a carminative, stimulant for dyspepsia. It is widely used as a condiment especially in Thailand. A paste of the root mixed together with bloodroot has been used topically for periodontal disease such as gingivitis and to cure skin cancer. Dose of the powder: 1 to 2 grams or a teaspoon; of the liquid extract, 20 to 30 drops.

Juniper (Juniperus communis) the berries are used as a diuretic, antiseptic, carminative and anti-inflammatory. For chronic cystitis, backache and rheumatism, a teaspoon of the crushed berries are steeped in a covered cup of boiling water until cool enough to drink. Three cups are taken daily.

Saffron (Crocus sativus) this consists of the three filiform, deep orange-red stigmas attached to the upper part of the style. They give the appearance of loose threads. The flavor is aromatic and pleasantly bitter. It is used as a carminative, diaphoretic, and emmenagogue or blood moving herb. A small pinch is typically added as a coloring and flavoring to food. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses saffron for shock, depression and menstrual difficulties.

Not only were the actual herbs commonly shared and used between these civilizations and cultures but aspects of the theoretical basis for their use and application were also adopted. Most notably we see a common thread of evaluating herbs according to their atmospheric energies, hot, warm, neutral, cool, cold and their flavors spicy, bitter, sweet, sour, salty and bland. The dynamics of physiological holism was expressed through the various humoural theories which were common to countries as far distant as India, China and eventually Greece and Rome.

The Four humors of the Greeks and Romans consisted of:

1. Sanguine (air), hot/moist 3. Phlegmatic (water, cold/moist

2. Melancholic (earth), cold, dry 4. Choleric (fire) hot/dry

Sanguine qualities in an individual exhibited symptoms of heat and moisture, ruddy complexion, cheerful, confident and optimistic, with a tendency towards feverish, inflammatory diseases.

Melancholic qualities had opposing qualities of cold, dryness, pale complexion, heightened sensitivity and visionary tendencies. These were more susceptible to nervous and reproductive disorders.

Phlegmatic qualities were cold and moist, duller, slower and less sensitivity than the sanguine. Theirs was a tendency towards diseases associated with congestion, stagnation, rheumatic and mucus conditions.

Choleric qualities in an individual being hot and dry were the opposite of phlegmatic. They would tend to have a hot and fiery temperament and thus more easily angered. They tended to develop liver diseases, high blood pressure, rashes, sun sensitivity, burns and fevers with little perspiration.

The humoural system is elucidated in a treatise called "Affections" in the Hippocratic Corpus which states: "In men, all diseases are caused by bile and phlegm. Bile and phlegm give rise to diseases when they become too dry or too wet or too hot or too cold in the body"; and the author goes on to state how such derangement's are precipitated by imbalances in food and drink, exercise, injuries, "smell, hearing and sight", sexual excesses and "hot" and "cold" themselves.

Such theories, common to most ancient civilizations, point out the essential difference in perspective between the holistic objectives of traditional medicine of diverse countries, in contrast to that of contemporary Western medicine. The traditional approach tends to be more integrative, emphasizing the attainment of health through a combined holistic integrating body, mind and spirit, using diet, exercise and lifestyle changes as well as ritual, chants and prayer. The contemporary Western medical approach tends to be disintegrative and myopic, viewing the body more mechanically as a conglomerate of separate physiological organs and molecules. The emphases is in merely relieving symptoms rather than maintaining health, While the ancient approach provides a wider, more far sighted view. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses.

The two great personalities in ancient Greek medicine were respectively divine and mortal. Hippocrates being the human and Asclepias the immortal god of medicine.

The great legacy of the ancient Greeks was their veneration for thought and beauty. This is especially reflected in their raising the human form to the level of divinity, in dramatic contrast to the animal headed gods of the Egyptians.

By regarding Asclepias as a later manifestation of the Egyptian physician of the 3rd dynasty, Imhotep, the Greeks attributed greater human compassion to their god of medicine. Asclepias, the healer of healers, sprang from the union of the god, Apollo, with a mortal maid of Thessaly, named Coronis.

Legend states that the young demigod, Asclepias was presented to Chiron, a wise old centaur who took him under his tutelage in a cave on Mount Pelion. Other revered protégés of Chiron included a pantheon of Greek heroes including Jason, Hercules and Achilles. Chiron, being master of both the art of war as well as that of medicine instructed his gifted students accordingly. Eventually his students excelled their master. As for Asclepias, sufferers throughout Greece came to him to be healed their infirmities and injuries.

Most of the gods from great Zeus himself to Apollo, Helios the sun god, to Athena were revered as having healing powers. Legends, however, sprang up and abounded about Asclepias' magic powers making the other gods jealous with envy. Asclepias was even credited with restoring the dead to life. This enraged Pluto, the god of the underworld, who bitterly complained to Zeus at being shortchanged in his supply of souls. Zeus, deciding that the power over life and death should be his alone, slew the healer with a thunderbolt.

Being of mixed divine and mortal parentage, Asclepias seems to have exhibited practical qualities. He is credited with evolving dietetic cures, surgery and pharmacology along with various techniques ranging from mundane purges to tooth extraction. Two of his offspring, Machaon and Podalirius are to be found as mortal army surgeons in the works of Homer. Some of his other children ranked celestial status with their names becoming bywords.

Panacea, a mythological daughter of Asclepias became the personification of medicinal herbs while Hygeia, her sister, was the embodiment of preventive health. Hygeia is often depicted with her father, the healer, representing the appreciation by the Greeks of the two aspects of health, the cure and prevention of disease. A son, Telesphorus, is also shown with his father. Being small of stature, garbed in his mantle and pointed hood, Telesphorus is taken as the symbol of youthful vitality with the power of "recovery" being his special domain.

One indication of the Greeks' human affinity with Asclepias is that he is depicted partially draped, never completely naked. The other gods, more lofty in Greek mythology, Zeus and Apollo are always depicted in their full blown glory, nude.

In almost all civilizations, the serpent is represented as a symbol of healing. Because it lives close to the earth, it is credited with the knowledge of all healing substances. The shedding of its skin has been interpreted as the ability to renew its life and to live eternally. As such, Hindu mythology describes one of the aspects of Vishnu, the God of Preservation, as the snake of eternity called Ananta. Snakes were once prayed to by the sick and were eaten by ancient doctor-magicians to enhance their healing powers. The very name of Asclepias may be derived from the Greek, askalabos, or serpent. Since that time Asclepias' knotted staff, the origin of which can be traced to the magician's wand used by the Egyptians and by Moses has a single serpent entwined around it. For centuries this staff, known also as the caduceus, the winged staff of Hermes-Mercury, the messenger of the gods, is depicted with two entwining serpents and has been the symbol of the medical profession.

In the fourth century BC, temples of healing, venerating the god Asclepias were erected all over the Grecian world from Epidaurus to Tricca, from Pergamon to Corinth. They were lavishly graced with art treasures and often erected over some healthful sight with an inspiring view perhaps near a mineral spring. Commonly, these also had a snake nursery where snakes were bred for use for the healing ceremonies. Patient sufferers would come to the temple to be healed. If the temple was small, they were instructed by the priest to sleep near the statues to encourage the god to appear to them in their dreams and hopefully either cure them of their malady or instruct them of a cure.

So as not to be in competition with the gods, the priests laid no claim to healing knowledge. They were often merely officiators and groundskeepers, attempting to provide a suitable environment were the aid of Asclepias could be suitably invoked. To maintain a spotless record of "no-patient-ever-lost, the critically ill along with pregnant women were forbidden entrance.

Upon admission, the patients were attended by priests, stretcher-bearers, bath masters, torchbearers, caretakers of the sacrificial alter and eventually an audience with the head priest himself, who offered words of counsel before each of his freshly bathed, white-sheeted charges laid down for their fateful, healing sleep. The dormitory became a necessary part of the temple as increasing numbers of patients awaited the revelation of their healing dream.

Before reclining for their haunted sleep the sacrifice was offered in accordance with the patient's financial status. The poorest gave their shoes, while others brought barley cakes sweetened with wine, the wealthy offered swine and sheep. The most acceptable sacrifice was a cock. In Phaedo, Plato quotes Socrates last words as "Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepias, discharge this debt for me."

The preparations and sacrifices over, the poet Aristophanes describes the scene from apparently first hand observation:

"soon the temple servitor
Put out the Lights, and bade us fall asleep,
Nor stir, nor speak, whatever noise we heard.
So down we lay in orderly repose."

In the hushed flicker of dimming lights and rustling priests, the hopeful patients sleep. Perhaps in their dreams and imaginings, they sense the presence of Asclepias with his sacred dogs and gentle serpents. The soft touch of his hand cools a feverish forehead, his kiss calming a restless body or raging mind as his healing presence glides back and forth amongst the dreamers.

With dawn, the patients arise. Those feeling that they have been fully cured, make their payment and leave but not without sharing their visions and success with others. This adds to the excitement and creates a healing mood of hopeful optimism within the others who often stay on, often for days or weeks in anticipation of the day when they will awaken whole and well.

Their is no doubt that remarkable cures were effected, perhaps through auto-suggestion, just as they are in other holy places such as Lourdes and in a similar Native American Vision Quest ritual of a time of solitude in nature, prayer and fasting. The priests, without any deceitful intent, aided the process by burning opiate laden incense whose fumes were wafted over the sleepers to heighten the fantasies. Aristophanes, in one of his comic dramas, depicts how the tallest of the priests, impersonating Asclepias would softly walk among the drugged and drowsy.

The serpents of Greece were extensively used in Asclepian worship. Some were often placed in cradles with newborn babies. At Epidaurus, the center of the Asclepian cult, a large snake nursery was maintained which supplied not only its own needs but that of neighboring temples as well. The staff of Asclepias, which can be traced back to the magic wand of the early Egyptians and Moses, depicts a single serpent twined around it. Up until recent times, this was the symbol of the medical profession. The caduceus, which is a winged staff with two serpents entwined is a further variation of the staff of Asclepias and the symbol of Hermes-Mercury, the god of trade and the messenger of the gods. This same symbol was used by the Romans and is worn by medical personnel of the United States Army Medical Corps to indicate noncombat status in war.

Stone slabs from temple walls found at the temple of Epidaurus and other Asclepian centers offer eloquent testimony of the wondrous "cures" effected at these centers. Often they resorted to psychological trickery such as planting a seeming dumb boy to come as a suppliant to the temple and then to recover his voice. When asked by the temple priest "do you promise to pay within a year the fees for the cure, if you obtain that for which you have come?" The young boy suddenly spoke out "I do."

Evidence that surgery was occasionally practiced in the Asclepian temples is shown in the following: "A man with an ulcer in his stomach. He incubated, and saw a vision: the god seemed to order his followers to seize and hold him that he might incise his stomach. So he fled, but they caught and tied him to the door-knocker. The Asclepian opened his stomach, cut out the ulcer, sewed him up again and loosed his bonds. He went away whole, but the floor of his chamber was covered with his blood."

Despite the aura of mysticism surrounding the Asclepian temples, the priests were evidently hard-fisted businessmen when it came time to be paid for cures effected. As with many religious institutions today, a goodwill offering was expected but since these were relied upon to sustain the temple, it was unlikely that they were as voluntary as the officiators pretended.

Time payments were available but for no longer than a year. The offerings of the rich were automatically expected to be more than the poor. An ironic story crops up where an unbelieving temple visitant who left cured, despite her disbelief, was requested to leave as her offering a silver pig "as a testament to her stupidity." A small boy offered his ten jackstones while Alexander the Great, visiting the temple at Gortys, left his spear and breastplate. For those who were of lower income status, perhaps only a song of praise or a lock of hair was offered.

The Asclepian temples survived for centuries, extending into the Christian era. While the same general approach (sleep, dream, recovery) remained, there was a gradual shift of emphasis. While Asclepias was still consulted in the second century AD, the remedies were often herbal. There is further evidence that in the fourth century, the temples offered some common sense herbal prescriptions. Nevertheless, even as the early Christian church forbade the use of rational medicines, relying primarily upon the divine healing of Christ, the emphasis of the Asclepian temples similarly remained focused on a mystical reliance on the power of the gods.


Hippocrates (460?-377? BC), considered the father of medicine. His principles formulated 400 years before the birth of Christ, attempted to weed out various aspects of superstition which dominated people's minds at the time in favor of applied logic and reason. Since the 18th century medical students would, upon graduating from their studies recite aloud the following Hippocratic oath.

The Oath of Hippocrates

I swear by Apollo, the physician, and Aesculepius and Health and All-Heal and all the gods and goddesses that according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this oath and stipulation:

To reckon him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him and relieve his necessities if required; to regard his offspring as on the same footing with my own brothers, and to teach them this art if they should wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation, and that by precept, lecture and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons and to those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath, according to the law of medicine, but to none others.

I will follow that method of treatment which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion.

With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut a person who is suffering from a stone, but will leave this to be done by practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter I will go into them for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and further from the seduction of females or males, bond or free.

Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I may see or hear in the lives of men which ought not to be spoken abroad I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

While I continue to keep this oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men at all times but should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot.

We know practically nothing of Hippocrates' life except that he was born on or around 460 BC, on Cos, an island close to the Asiatic mainland. He settled eventually in Thessaly; he died an old and honored man, at Larissa.

The earliest and most reliable authorities are Plato, Aristotle, and Aristotle's pupil, Meno, the historian of medicine. These established that Hippocrates was a historical personage of great esteem who nevertheless taught medicine for a fee. There are few definite known facts about either his methods or doctrines. Despite the centuries of scholarly attempts to define the authentic writings and teachings of Hippocrates, the voluminous works ascribed to him as the Hippocratic corpus are all apparently anonymous.

The Hippocratic Writings consists of sixty treatises, some of which are in several books, varying widely in subject-matter, style and date. These include subjects on pathology, diagnosis and prognosis, methods of treatment, preservation of health, physiology, embryology, gynecology, surgery and medical ethics. While a formidable body of work, it is impossible to identify which are the actual authentic writings of Hippocrates. Therefore, the Hippocratic treatises must be viewed as the collective efforts of many individuals and schools over a period of 3 centuries who made anonymous contributions.

Hippocrates lived during the fifth century BC, a time of great auspiciousness as there seemed to be a flowering of thought and wisdom that occurred throughout in all corners of the world. Giants walked the earth including Buddha, Socrates, Xenophon,Phidias and Plato.

Hippocrates practiced a system of holistic medicine focusing his treatments on the person rather than the disease. From early Greek philosophy, he based his understanding of medicine on natural laws in which the course of disease was seen to exhibit a discernible pattern as opposed to being divinely inflicted. A headache, according to him, could be one thing if it afflicted a stoneworker in Corinth and quite another if it plagued a philosopher of Athens.

Plato articulated Hippocrates' credo: " to heal even an eye, one must heal the head, and indeed the whole body."

Just as the Greek universe was ordered according to the principles of four dynamic elements (fire, water, air, earth), Hippocrates saw the body governed by four corresponding "humors," as described previously. Health and disease was seen as a question of humoural balance or imbalance with foods and herbs classified according to their ability to effect natural homeostasis.

Of his many aphorisms the three most memorable are: "above all else, do no harm", -- " Let your medicine be your food and your food, medicine." -- "The body heals itself." He was a patient, keen observer, carefully noting down the course of a disease as part of the process of healing, seeking for precisely the right moment to support the patient with some mild forms of physio-therapies, massage, baths, a few herbs (not more than 200) and most importantly, mild foods.

Hippocrates was seemingly opposed to blind dogmatic belief either in religious or superstitious arguments or apparent medical theories. The classification of herbs as "hot, "cold", "wet", "dry' for instance was not thought to represent absolutes in the scientific sense, but rather aspects to be utilized as part of the art of medicine. In the most remarkable treatise entitled Tradition in Medicine, he says," They have supposed that there are but one or two causes; heat or cold, moisture, dryness or anything else they may fancy." Later he states, "I am utterly at a loss to know how those who prefer these hypothetical arguments and reduce science to a simple matter of postulates, ever cure anyone on the basis of their assumptions. I do not think that they have ever discovered anything that is purely `hot' or `cold', `dry' or `wet', without it sharing some other qualities". The writer further states in chapter 16 that hot and cold are "the weakest of the forces which operate in the body."

Later however, despite his criticism of hot, cold, wet, dry and other postulates as being in themselves too simplistic, the writer advances his assumptions which are considerably more complex. In chapter 14 he states, "There exists in man saltiness, bitterness, sweetness, sharpness, astringency, flabbiness and countless other qualities having every kind of influence, number and strength. When these are properly mixed and compounded with one another, they can neither be observed nor are they harmful. but when one is separated out and stands alone it becomes both apparent and harmful."

The Greek Doctor

The practice of medicine in ancient Greece was typically a middle class profession and generally did not occupy the high esteem it does in our own time. The normal Greek doctor was regarded as somewhat of a craftsman --- probably lower than a goldsmith and only slightly higher than a shoemaker. He might be considered as somewhat of a more formalized version of the village healer or herbalist.

Many doctors were itinerant wanderers -- Hippocrates among them. Such a wandering doctor might temporarily set up shop in the market place of a town, treating those who choose to consult him. In this way, there was opportunity for an exchange of practical trade secrets either voluntarily or surreptitiously by spying on the work of others.

Referring to the proverbial doctor's medicine bag, Hippocrates stated a gentle note of warning for those who tended to grow a little careless: "Keep your bag clean and well arranged. Lack in these matters means helplessness and harm .... the physician cannot possibly go through everything."

There was a different style of treatment between those doctors who were itinerants and those who set up more permanent shop in cities. The itinerant doctor, in order to prosper, had to be able to quickly and accurately tell the patient the nature and course of their disease. The city doctor practiced either in their homes or they worked in the public clinics or "iatreions" as they were called. These were often run communally with patients being treated together in a common room. The official town doctor had to demonstrate that they had been under the prior tutelage of an acknowledged practitioner. Hippocrates was one who, according to Plato, trained young doctors "for a fee."

The iatreion was usually supported by the community through a special tax. It had well lit rooms, stocked with all necessary surgical instruments, and served as both a consulting and surgical room. Usually the doctor had apprentices who would work with him and therefore learn the art of medicine through hands-on experience. Hippocrates had advice both for the doctor's surgical assistants as well as the novices learning the various surgical operations. To the assistant he says, "Let those who look after the patient present the part for operation as you want it, so as to be all steady, keeping silence, obeying their superior." To the novice surgeons he states, "Perform them with each hand and with both together, your object being to attain ability, grace, speed, painlessness, elegance and readiness."

In exchange for freely treating the poor and indigent, the communal doctors who headed the iatreia received a number of practical benefits. They were exempt from taxes, showered with endowments and received free tickets to athletic games.

Outstanding doctors were especially honored. Empedocles (495?-435? BC) was both a noted philosopher, the first to delineate the principle of the four elements, as well as a celebrated Sicilian doctor. He ordered the nearby swamps and marshes in the city of Salinus to be drained, in order to prevent an unknown pestilence, probably malaria. To honor him, his grateful neighbors ordered special gold coins to be minted, twelve of which are preserved in the British Museum. A stone found at the Acropolis in Athens tells of the bestowal of a crown of green olives upon Evenor, the physician "for his good will toward the people of Athens." Others doctors were similarly honored for their great zeal and generosity in treating the sick.

Not all schools agreed with the prevailing Hippocratic ideal of holism. In Alexandria, Eristratos was one doctor who was scornful of the general Hippocratic concept. "Why bother with the whole body," he claimed, "if only part of the man is sick?" It is said that he went so far as to open the abdomen of a patient with kidney disorders to apply direct medication. As an anatomist, Eristratos was the first to distinguish between the sensory and motor nerves. He also compared the heart to a blacksmith's bellows, thus developing a discovery some 2000 years before Harvey in the 18th century, concerning the circulation of blood.

Also in Alexandria, adjoining Egypt, the land made famous for its embalming practices, Herophilos, a staunch advocate of the Hippocratic model, spent much of his time dissecting cadavers. He later became known as "Herophilus the Butcher" as a result of the emperor Tertullian later accusing him of opening the body cavities of six hundred living criminals! Herophilos nevertheless made a number of brilliant medical contributions. For one, he was the first to explain the function of the brain, dispelling the Aristotelian idea that the heart was the center of thought (an idea still, however, supported and maintained in Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Poisons: the Foundation of Pharmacy

Being a powerful ruler or aristocratic figure in the ancient world was not without a certain level of risk. Most commonly, being poisoned by an envious relative or another dissenting member. This was a time when poisoning was raised to a high art, and in turn spurred dazzling efforts to discover or create effective antidotes. Thus the art of Greek pharmacy was strongly supported and encouraged by the wealthy.

Mithridaticum was a shotgun antidote containing no less than 54 ingredients developed for Mithridates, King of Pontos during the first century BC Living in mortal fear of poisoning, his remedy consisted of small amounts of various poisons which taken over a period of time was supposed to make one immune to their fatal effects. He died at around the age of 70 but not before, as legend has it, he first tried to poison himself unsuccessfully because of his self immunized body. He was eventually killed by his son's henchmen. Ironically, Mithridaticum eventually became known as a health giver and was still in use up to the sixteenth century. As the Roman Juvenal states, "If your liver is getting impatient, buy the composition of Mithridates, and you will live to eat figs and gather roses another year."

The Roman's, famous for incorporating the best of their Greek forbears, attempted through the efforts of Andromachus, Nero's physician, to improve or at least enlarge upon Mithridates' shotgun anti-poison by increasing the number of toxic ingredients from 54 to 70. Under the name "Theriacum" it was described in pharmacopoeias for centuries up through the European Renaissance.

Apart from the development of royal poison antidotes, there was increasing demands for a wide range of non-poisonous plants from all parts of the known world. As today, a combination of unwitting ignorance along with calculated unscrupulousness caused a plethora of confusion as bogus species and fraudulent imitations of compounds were widely traded.

There were also customs and regulations concerning when and how certain plants were to be harvested. Some of these ideas became laden with superstitions. Some included picking certain plants only with the left hand.

Others were:

"Do not look behind you as you pluck; this will deprive a plant of medicinal value."

"Be sure to stand to windward, to avoid poisonous effluxions from the plant." And:

"Beware of the woodpecker when plucking peony."

Such strange admonitions extended to actual mixing of medicines. Many Greek pharmacists insisted that stirring medicines with the fourth finger was the best for maximizing effectiveness. The finger was thought to contain a vein that communicated directly with the heart, an idea which may also account for its long-accepted use as the ring finger in marriage.

Originally most Greek doctors collected and mixed their own drugs. When the drug trade became world-wide, however, they began to rely upon wholesalers for raw materials and upon pharmacists for compounding them. As Greek pharmacists found that there was more money to be made in compounding and mixing cosmetics, physicians were compelled out of necessity to return to making their own drugs.

To this day Jupiter's symbol, which was put atop most prescription forms as a kind of invocation, survives in the modern physician's statement "Take thou....," and is actually traceable back through the Jupiter sign to the Eye of Horus itself.

Roman Herbal Medicine

One of the most significant virtues of the Romans, responsible for the long lasting success of their civilization, was their practicality. This is best seen in their ability to adopt local customs, religions and cultural mores, along with incorporating the accumulated knowledge and wisdom of foreign cultures under Roman dominion. Being great administrators, they soon saw the value of hygienic principles such as forbidding the burial of the dead within city limits, providing a minimum space of two feet between neighboring buildings, water transport via aqueducts, refuse and sewerage disposal. The Cloaca Maxima, which was a sewer built by the Etruscan Tarquins in the sixth century BC was first used to drain the marsh close to the Roman Forum and went on to serve the City of Rome for centuries to follow.

While private medical practice continued, the Romans were very instrumental in evolving group medicine in the form of hospitals. This was especially important to serve the needs of the military. Each Roman legion, numbering from seven to eight thousand men, were divided into ten to twelve cohorts, and to each, Augustus Caesar assigned four doctors with a supervising legionary physician. In addition, the soldiers themselves were well versed in first aid.

Army hospitals called valetudinaria were used to receive the soldiers. The remains of these hospitals are to be found throughout the Roman Empire. One located on the old Roman road to Cologne, called Novaesium was typical. It contained forty sick wards, administration buildings, large kitchens, and a well-stocked apothecary shop.

What the Romans contributed to practical organization and medical care, they lacked in human sensitivity. The hospitals operated on a strictly military basis with physicians taking orders from military commanders. Soldiers shocked by the brutal combat of war, stationed 100's of miles from their family with inevitable concomitant mental suffering were nevertheless expected to maintain a strict code of discipline even while hospitalized. An order issued by Emperor Aurelius indicates the type of discipline:

"Let each soldier aid and serve his fellow; Let them conduct themselves quietly in the hospitalls... and he who would raise strife, let him be lashed."

It is no wonder that due to previous Roman lack of compassion, the new religion of Christianity was able to make significant headway, despite its early emphasis on faith healing. This occurred with the evolution of monasticism and a renewed spirit of humane compassion, exemplified by the tradition of maintaining a medicinal herb garden and a monastic pharmacy, available to its reclusive residents as well as to the local people.

One of the most important steps in Roman medicine occurred in the year 46 BC when Julius Caesar granted citizenship to foreign doctors. Since the best doctors along with the best philosophers were Greek, this meant that the couple of centuries previous, wrought with suspicion and distrust associated with Greeks generally, and Greek doctors in particular, was lifted. Again this was a wise and practical decision on the part of the Romans, since by the second century AD, Rome with its vast army was sprawled over an empire ranging from Africa to England. Such expansiveness is often subject to squalor and disease for which trained medical personnel were required.

Previous to this edict Greek doctors were maintained as skilled and knowledgeable slaves. In part, due to the skill of one such doctor slave, the emperor Augustus in 23 BC went so far as to exempt doctors from taxes. Augustus had been a sickly man, suffering with rheumatism that effected his left leg that caused him to limp, arthritis, which had stiffened his right hand, chronic insomnia and frequent severe colds which in winter caused him to wear four tunics along with a heavy toga. No doctor had been able to alleviate his suffering until Antonius Musa, a freed slave diagnosed his problem as inflammation of the liver and prescribed cold sulfur baths. In gratitude for his cure, Augustus ordered Musa to be sculptured in the form of Asclepias.

The two most important medical figures of Rome whose contributions remained the uncontested "standard" for botany and medicine were Dioscorides and Galen. Dioscorides, was born in Anazarbus which is a town presently part of Turkey. Living sometime in the first century, his most significant contribution was the five botanical books entitled De Materia Medica. This became the foundation for all subsequent materia medicas for the next 1600 years throughout Europe.

Approximately 80% of Dioscorides' materia medica consists of plant medicines while the remaining 20% is divided more or less 10% mineral and 10% animal. This approximates a 1976 report describing the sources of Western drugs as follows: (a) chemically synthesized 50 percent; (b) higher flowering plants, 25%; (c) minerals, 7 percent; (d) animals, 6 percent. If we consider that many chemically synthesized drugs were once derived from plant products, the percentages of Dioscorides is remarkably similar to today's.

The organization of Dioscorides' work, especially with plants follows an organized pattern of one plant, one chapter. The description of the plants themselves are laid out as follows:

1. plant name, synonyms and picture
2. habitats
3. botanical description
4. drug properties or actions
5. medicinal usages
6. harmful side effects
7. quantities and dosages
8. harvesting, preparation and storage instructions
9. adulteration and methods of detection
10. veterinary uses

The most significant aspect of his work which he, himself described as "new and superior", despite his surmise that it would be immediately apparent, seemed to escape the understanding of scholars for centuries. Instead of grouping various plants according to botanical families, or treatment of specific diseases, or even according to the organoleptic criteria of flavors and energies (hot, cold, moist, dry), he arranged them according to their physiological effects. Being first and foremost an empiricist, Dioscorides sought to classify drugs according to broad physiological categories of action. These include the following:

1. Warming
2. Mollifying and softening
3. Astringent, bitter, or binding
4. Diuretics
5. Drying
6. Cooling
7. Concocting
8. Sharpening
9. Making thin
10. Dilating
11. Gluing
12. Sleep inducing
13. Relaxing
14. Diaphoretic
15. Stopping of pores
16. Causing thirst
17. Checking
18. Cleaning
19. Cleaning thoroughly or emetic
20. Decocting
21. Hardening
22. Nourishing

By so doing, Dioscorides raised herbal medicine beyond the purely empirical principle of finding a specific herb for a specific disease. It presupposed a corresponding system of diagnosis for which the above physiologic actions would be useful. Separating the diagnostic "system" from the treatment or the temptation to name a specific disease and treatment regardless of the holistic evaluation of the patient and the symptom complex, does not allow one to perceive either the meaning or the value of Dioscorides' "new and superior" method of organization.

In fact, his method as set forth in De Materia Medica is not at all unsimilar to methods used in the organization of traditional Chinese materia medicas. A materia medica such as that described in Planetary Herbology or in subsequent lessons of this course is organized according to functional intention and use in clinical practice.

A traditional Chinese materia medica includes the following:

1. relieving the surface
2. purging Heat
3. lubricating dryness
4. heat clearing
5. stimulant
6. dampness dispelling
7. clearing phlegm dampness
8. internal warming
9. relaxing
10. calming the spirit
11. blood regulating
12. chi regulating
13. tonics
14. parasiticides
.....and so forth.

How are these different from the pharmaceutical classification of substances as diaphoretics, laxatives, alteratives, stimulants, sedatives, nervines, emmenagogues, carminatives, etc.? Certainly both materia medica's include these elements as well as the organoleptic classification according to flavors as well as organs effected and so forth. The difference is in the idea that an expectorant can be either cooling or heating. For instance, coltsfoot and elecampane are both classified as expectorants. Where coltsfoot is more suitable as an expectorant for a hot cough with accompanying feverishness and yellow phlegm. While elecampane (Inula helinum) root is better used for a cold or cough associated with coldness, weak digestion, low energy and whitish to clear mucus discharge.

As another example different nervines and sedatives will be more appropriate for certain kinds of nervousness. Some forms of nervousness are caused by a toxic or stagnant liver for which skullcap (scutellaria lateriflora) is more suitable, other forms of anxiety (associated with food allergies and diseases such as candidiasis) are caused by depressed circulation and digestion for which asafoetida taken with food will be more appropriate. Skullcap will probably not be very effective for the individual with weak digestion and internal coldness while asafoetida will probably not be effective for the individual with a toxic, stagnant liver. Valerian (V. officinalis), is a nervine with a warm, acrid flavor. This suggests that it might not be so effective for an individual with a tendency towards liver congestion and hypertension as skullcap might be, for instance. Finally, extreme nervous restlessness, mania or breakdown, may require a heavier substance to lower the energy such as calcium carbonate from oyster shells, abalone or pearls decocted in a tea. These are very cold and would not be appropriate by themselves, for the individual suffering from internal coldness and associated weak digestion.

Since one plant, such as Red clover (Trifollium pratense), usually has more than one property, its placement as an alterative with cooling properties in a materia medica is merely a reflection of its primary use by one or a consensus number of practitioners. Its placement as a cooling, anti-inflammatory herb however also allows the practitioner to access its primary therapeutic effect. In actual usage, red clover could be used not only for fevers and infections but to help dissolve blood clots and thus aid circulation, calm the nerves and relieve hot bronchial conditions. It can also be used to aid the metabolism of protein and thus be useful in the treatment of certain forms of cancer.

One may also mistakenly assume herbal traditions as settled matters. In fact, the history of herbalism shows a quite different state of affairs. What has come down to us as tradition is really the current expression and distillation, in most instances, of centuries of opposing views and opinions.

Tradition is useful when it provides continuity and a point of departure for understanding. It is useless when it inhibits our ability to act and respond to the demands of the moment. According to John M. Riddle, the most modern translator of the only English version of De Materia Medica and sad to say, a work that has been long out of print, he says, "By Dioscorides' time medical practitioners were neither unified about the nature of disease and illness nor in agreement on a set principle on which to organize experiences and to approach therapy." Regarding the notion that the humoural theory was a universally accepted concept among Greeks and Romans, he further says, "there was never complete agreement about the number, designation, or even existence of humours. Among the dissenters was Dioscorides, who did not accept so few as four humours and largely ignored the whole matter."

Parallels can be drawn today between the theoretical basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine with its Yin-Yang and Five element theories or the theoretical basis of East Indian Ayurvedic medicine with its sacrosanct Tridosha (Three humour) and other theories compared with clinical practice. The same can be said for any theoretical concept of Western scientific medicine and the pragmatic reality of what works. What may be gained from theoretical study has much value including developing some intangible attitude or way of approaching a condition that may inspire greater confidence within the practitioner involved in the enterprise of healing, a fundamentally imprecise and therefore artful science.

What Dioscorides was attempting in the organization of his materia medica was to create a definitive and practical clinical manual. The fact that he had differences conforming to strict traditional theoretical precepts such as the flavors as absolute indicators of medicinal properties or the humors shows the limits of theory. Rather, Dioscorides, the successful clinician, sought to treat disease according to the complex of its symptoms and what was empirically most effective. Like other Greek physicians of his time, he integrated "diet, exercise, and baths" as being "preferable to harsh drugs and surgery." Being the great herbalist that he obviously was, he sought "to cure, safely, swiftly, and pleasantly." Just as he rejected the hard theoretical humoural line of the Hippocratic practitioners of his day, he also rejected the more psycho-spiritual Asclepians. While he chose not to tell why, one can only surmise that such methods of healing, again tending towards a dogmatic methodology, was contrary to Dioscorides thought process.

European Herbalism From the Middle Ages to the Present

Dioscorides and were two of the most important doctors of the late Roman Empire living approximately at the same time. Their work became the foundation of European herbalism through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Dioscorides, who lived sometime around 50AD, was a physician in Nero's army. He traveled extensively through Greece, Italy, Germany, Gaul, Spain and other countries, detailing the properties of around 600 plants, giving the name, habitat, directions for use, properties and indications. His definitive herbal, De Materia Medica, was actually a compilation from many works including Hippocrates, Theophrastus, Andreas, Niger, Crateuas and other scientific botanists and herbalists. His work was the primary source of herbalists of all nations for over 1500 years.

Galen who lived around 130 AD was the last of the important Greek herbalists. He learned anatomy at the Greek School in Alexandria. He is the most distinguished physician of antiquity after Hippocrates. He authored over 400 works, of which 83 are extant. His major herbal, De Simplicibus represents the fruit of his extensive travel and research. Galen described the European humoural system which prevailed throughout the middle ages.

The early Christian church discouraged the formal practice of medicine with the avowed intention to imitate Christ, and thus, they encouraged the use of faith healing. As a result of this tendency, there was an attempt to destroy and suppress the ancient knowledge of herbs and natural medicine. Fortunately, it was preserved forever in the form of hand copied manuscripts which were secretly handed down through the centuries. The monasteries, however, did become centers of simple herbal folklore and practice, storing a large number of herbs in their herb storeroom called the "officina", giving rise to the Latin "Offinalis." Some plants with the name officinalis are: comfrey-symphytum officinalis; calendula officinalis; vervaine-verbena officinalis; dandelion-taraxacum officinalis. These same monasteries became famous for maintaining their own herb gardens.

During the Middle Ages which lasted from AD 400 to the 1500's, the Muslim Empire of Southwest and Central Asia made significant contributions to medicine. Rhazes, a Persian-born physician of the late 800's and early 900's wrote the first accurate descriptions of measles and smallpox, Avicenna, an Arab physician of the late 900's and early 1000's, wrote a vast medical encyclopedia called Canon of Medicine. It represented a summation of medical knowledge of the time and influenced medical education for moth 600 years.

The Middle Ages was wracked by a series of devastating plagues. Outbreaks of leprosy began in the 500's and reached their peak in the 1200's. In the mid-1300's the deadly bubonic plague, known as the Black Death, killed about a quarter of Europe's population. Throughout the medieval period, smallpox and other infectious diseases attacked thousands of people.

The primary medical advance of the Middle Ages was the founding of many hospitals and university medical schools. Christian religious groups maintained hundreds of charitable hospitals for victims of leprosy. In the 900's a medical school established in Salerno, Italy, became the primary center of medical learning in Europe during the 1000's and 1100's.

Some of the important herbal's of this period were as follows:

500 AD

Herbarium of Apuleius

A translation of this work connected the English with the herbal medicine of Southern Europe.

800 AD

During these years many of the old herbal's and Books of Simples were destroyed. Norman invasions resulted in the destruction of Saxon works and Danish invasions destroyed most of the written works of the continent. Druidic uses of plants were mostly lost.

950 AD

Leech Book of the Bald, the oldest existing leech (doctoring) book was written in the vernacular. It is the first medical treatise of Western Europe. It is probably a copy of an older book, The Leech Book, a manual of a Saxon doctor. It is largely secondary knowledge and includes much herbal lore as well as superstition.

1200 AD

Hildegard of Bingen (St. Hildegard), With the recent revival of interest in the music of the visionary 12th century mystic, Hildegard also wrote widely on devotion, mysticism and healing. Hildegard claims her knowledge is derived from visionary sources. Nevertheless, she utilizes the four-element and four-humour system that dated back to the ancient Greeks. Her approach integrates, body-mind and spirit with specific descriptions of diet, herbs and gems. She recommends the use of psyllium for constipation, aloe for jaundice and horehound for cough. She employs many spices from the orient. One that she recommends frequently is galangal (alpinia galana) which she uses to treat indigestion, stomach pain, arthritic pain and heart pain (angina). She also uses some uncommon remedies such as geranium for colds and columbine for scrofula. Many of the common herbs she describes include fennel, parsley and nettles with descriptions of preparing them as wines, teas, syrups, oils, salves, powders and smoking mixtures. She also describes how to make herbal eggs and herbal cookies. As their use in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, Hildegard also integrates the therapeutic use of animal parts. Hildegard's balanced diet describes the dangers of cold or raw food as well as the shortcomings of too much meat and fat. Her diet includes some meat, much seafood, vegetables, grains, (spelt, a variety of wheat which is her favorite). She also prescribes beer and wine for certain conditions as well. Some of her more unusual prescriptions is the use of the chestnut as the ideal food for the brain and nerves. Hildegard also uses other healing modalities including fasting, bloodletting, cupping and saunas.

A history of dominated by prominent male figures, who served as both the players and authors, we know little of the contribution of women in the history of medicine. Hildegard, therefore, assumes an important figure in the history of women healers.

1485 AD


The Herbarius and in 1491 AD, Ortus Sanitatus both have some of the best woodcuts prior to the new period of botanical illustration beginning in 1530.


In France, Le Grand Herbier is important because of its later English translation in 1526 as Grete Herball.

The Renaissance

During this period, new political independence from the church and a renewed interest in the classics fostered a flowering of scientific, medical and cultural achievement that is unparalleled in human history. Many of the great herbal's were written, compiled and printed during this time. Some of these were as follows:


Bancke's Herbal was the first printed herbal.


Grete Herball printed by Peter Treveris had the highest reputation of the earlier English herbal's.


Turner's Herbs, by the physician and divine, William Turner (1510-1568). He was regarded as '˜the father of British Botany," because he was the first Englishman who studied plants scientifically.

At the same time, the German, Fuch's Herbal by Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566) was written and became another landmark work with beautiful illustrations.


Aztec Herbal, published in 1552 is the earliest treatise on Aztec pharmacology. Written by Martin de la Cruz, an Aztec doctor, it was later translated by Juan Badiano, an Indian doctor from Xochimilco. It was discovered in the Vatican library in 1919 and has become known as the Baliano Codex.


Rembert Dodoens (1517-1585) was a Belgian botanist. His herbal called Histoire de Plantes incorporated many of Fuch's woodcuts along with some new illustrations. His most important book, The Pemptades, became the basis of the English herbal known as Gerard's Herbal.

1597 & 1633

Gerard's Herbal by John Gerard (1545-1612) is the second of the three greatest English herbalists, Turner, Gerard and Parkinson. Gerard was a surgeon, well traveled and a dedicated gardener. He grew over 1000 plants mostly for seed. His herbal is largely based on the early Pemptades by Dodoens and was probably translated into English on commission by a Dr. Priest. Gerard altered the classification of plants and added a great deal from his personal observations. First published in 1597, it was later corrected and reprinted in 1633. Even to this day, amateurs calling themselves, "herbalists, freely plagiarize material from Gerard's herbal.

In his work we see the old belief in the efficacy of herbs to treat not only physical diseases but those of the mind and spirit. This belief is shared by the greatest civilizations of antiquity. Gerard also describes methods of aromatherapy involving the inhalation of volatile oils, the absorption of these through the skin into the circulatory system.

1629 & 1640

John Parkinson (1567-1650) was the last of the great English herbalists. His books include Paradisi in Sole Terrestris (A Garden of Pleasant Flowers) published in 1629, and Theatrum Botanicum (The Theater of Plants) published in 1640 at the age of 73.

Parkinson's monumental Theatrum Botanicum describes over 3800 plants and was the most complete and aesthetically beautiful English treatise on plants of the day.


Nicolas Culpeper (1616-1654) expounded on the relationship of astrology and herbs and the older belief in the "Doctrine of Signatures". This belief extending deep into the distant past herbal traditions of the world maintains that there is a relationship between the way a plant appears and the condition for which it is indicated.

Culpeper was the most loved by the people and hated by his professional colleagues herbal doctor of his day. It was the custom of the time for official medical knowledge to be printed and discussed only in Latin. In Culpeper's opinion, this was simply an elitist ploy to keep the knowledge of herbs and healing from the masses and thereby ensure the vested interests of the medical profession. There was also some sense, that this would protect the masses from possibly mistreating themselves. Medical elitism, of course, continues to this day in many forms and the many branches of medicine and with the American Medical Association (AMA) and other countries such as the British Medical Association (BMA).

Always the physician of the people, Culpeper was the most hated by his professional colleagues because he violated a solemn oath of London's College of Physicians by translating from the Latin some of the elitist works of the time, notably the Pharmacopoeia which he retitled A Physicall Directory. Some of this information eventually found its way into his ever popular Culpeper's Herbal.

He was the most loved because by translating the works of his greedy and paranoid colleagues, he was able to empower common folk with the knowledge of self treatment. Always a man of the people, Culpeper charged small fees, had an unaffected manner and was especially loved by his poor London West-end patients. The result is that he continues to be honored in the minds of the people with Culpeper's Herbal being reprinted through countless versions and editions up to the present.


William Coles (1626-1662) authored two books, The Art of Simpling and Adam in Eden. Like Culpeper, he also wrote in colloquial English but he was severely critical of Culpeper and described him as being, "ignorant in the forme of Simples" and "transcribing out of old works only what was useful". Cole was also critical of Culpeper's astrological botany and the association of plants with planetary influences. Cole is regarded as a major exponent in English of the Doctrine of Signatures.

Because medicine tended to be the official domain of either the church or the state, folk medicine throughout the Middle Ages, developed and was relegated to the practice of herbalists and healers who utilized non-official healing methods associated with previous pagan religions to attend to the needs of the those who were unable to afford the ministrations of the wealthy medical elite. This included women who were branded as witches (see the following section, Women and Healing), men who were called warlocks and other social outcasts who rebelled against the domination of Church and state and sought to rediscover their ancient so-called pagan religious customs and healing with the use of herbs and various charms. In the name of preserving Christian values, the Inquisition and witch-hunts became a convenient method to suppress and denigrate the efforts of unofficial lay healers.

Today, some may still look disdainfully on the witches' strange use of animal and mineral substances described in Shakespeare's Macbeth. However, this only alludes to the outlaw status of many women healers and their use of bonafide and potent remedies, however strange. Interestingly Shakespeare's son-in-saw and next door neighbor, John Hall was a great herbalist of the time whose official medical armamentarium included various animal parts, herbs and minerals much as these even today are also part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The psychological aspects of healing through the use of rituals, prayers, charms and talismans represent another aspect of traditional herbal shamanism. It was not the power and validity of such methods of healing with which the Church took issue, for priests similarly employed various religious relics, specially consecrated '˜holy' water and the symbol of the cross in a similar way. Rather is was the question by whose authority the healing was achieved. If, therefore, an individual was healed with a non-Christian symbol, it must have been by the power of the devil.

During the 17th century, the Swiss physician, Philippus Paracelsus advocated the use of minerals. These included methods of purifying and using minerals such as copper, sulfur, arsenic, mercury and iron. Because of his emphasis on the importance of Chemistry, Paracelsus holds two seeming contradictory distinctions as the "father of alchemy" and the founder of a system of mineral drug medicine that has ultimately resulted in the primacy of plants used for medicine.

Women and Healing

It may be noticed that thus far, that other than mythological figures such as Hygeia, Hepatica and other ancient goddesses, the only prominent historical woman described in this overview of the history of herbal medicine is Hildegard. While there were undoubtedly others, little seems to be known about them and they certainly do not play a prominent role in the chronicled history of medicine with the exception of a few in comparatively recent times. Certainly this is not because women, as a group, had no interest in healing. Quite the opposite.

With the preponderant numbers of women who enroll in our course and attend our various seminars, women as a group, in my opinion are the most apt healers, with a natural tendency of compassion required for healing. Further, unlike men, their monthly and cyclic physiological needs (menses, childbirth and menopause) involve them directly on a regular basis with healing. We can only assume, therefore, that women have always had a lively and direct involvement with health and healing but were, along with other disadvantaged groups of peoples such as native people, blacks and Jews, simply overlooked in the chronicles of history.

Before the great holocaust of the 20th century with the execution of 100's of thousands of Jews, gypsies and other ethnic groups by the Germans during the 2nd world war, another holocaust involving perhaps even greater numbers of women healers occurred between the 14th and 17th centuries with the systemic torture and executions of millions of women as witches. According to Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English in their very important booklet entitled Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers (Glass Mountain Pamphlets, P. O. box 238, Oyster Bay, N.Y., 11771), "The great majority of them were lay healers serving the peasant population, and their suppression marks one of the struggles in the history of man's suppression of women as healers."

They go on to say that "The witch-hunts represented well-organized campaigns, initiated, financed and executed by Church and State." They came about coincident with the evolution of the European medical profession and the apparent need to suppress any attempts by the lay people to minister to their own medical needs.

'¦.. Because of the Medieval Church, with the support of kings, princes and secular authorities, controlled medical education and practice, the Inquisition (witch-hunts) constitutes, among other things, an early instance of the '˜professional' repudiating the skills and interfering with the rights of the '˜nonprofessional' to minister to the poor. (Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness)

As Ehrenreich and English state, "Witch hunts did not eliminate the lower class woman healer, but they branded her forever as superstitious and possibly malevolent. So thoroughly was she discredited among the emerging middle classes that in the 17th and 18th centuries it was possible for male practitioners to make serious inroads into that last preserve of female healing --- midwifery. Nonprofessional male practitioners '” "barber surgeons" '“ lead the assault in England, claiming technical superiority on the basis of their use of the obstetrical forceps. ---- Female midwives in England organized and charged the male intruders with commercialism and dangerous misuse of the forceps. But it was too late '“ the women were easily put down as ignorant "old wives" clinging to the superstitions of the past."

Ehrenreich and English's book goes on to describe the male take over of the roles of healing from the 1800's through the early 20th century throughout all European countries and in the US.

It is difficult for us today to conceive of the profound lack of personal rights and the historical repression of women that has been so characteristic of the history of both Western and Eastern countries of the world. Rather than to over simplistically condemn men as a group, since I believe that ultimately both men and women suffer from female repression, the cause seems to coincide with the rise of warlike civilizations where physical strength and brutality became more of a necessity for survival and highly valued by both sexes. Witness our own time, that as war is becoming more technological and mechanized, it is less the exclusive domain of men as women are admitted into the military. Concomitantly, women's rights are emerging more strongly to the fore in all sectors of society.

It is valuable to study more feminine oriented ancient civilizations such as the Mycenaean civilization of Crete which existed from around 1500 to 1100 B.C that made many important contributions to the evolution of civilization.

The following section of describes the rise of the Eclectic medical system in the US. Among the many unique achievements of the Eclectics was the recognition, admission and graduation of women and blacks into the medical profession.

The American System of Medicine

David Winston, Herbalist A.H.G.

In the early part of the 19th century medical practice in the United States was in a dismal state. General lack of medical knowledge, poor, hygiene, and allopathy's adherence to worthless theories and toxic remedies made going to a physician both a frightening and dangerous experience. The overuse of bleeding, mercury, arsenic, opium, emetics, and purgatives weakened patients almost as much as the diseases of the day.

As an alternative to this cruel hoax, a poorly educated farmer, Samuel Thomson (1769-1843) was driven to create an herbal alternative: Thomsonian Medicine. This system, which borrowed heavily from Native American herbal remedies and sweat baths, was quite heroic but substantially less toxic than the orthodox medicines commonly used.

Major tenets of Thomsonian Medicine included the Jeffersonian belief in "every man as his own doctor" and "heat is life and cold is death." The materia medica of the botanic practitioners utilized a limited number of medicines including stimulant diaphoretics (capsicum, achillea, hedeoma, zingiber), astringents (myrica, quercus, commiphora), emetics (lobelia, Eupatorium perfoliatum), sedatives (scutellaria, cypripedium, symplocarpus) and bitters (chelone, populus, berberis). Thomson's system usually included several "courses" of steamings purging with lobelia emetics, and sweating, followed by tonification of the stomach, lungs, and bowels. While unpleasant in its pronounced activity, this protocol very successfully treated many common scourges of that time, i.e., typhus, typhoid fever, influenza (la grippe), yellow fever, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, and malaria.

The best known of Thomson's formulas was Composition powder (formula #2) which was used to allay dysentery, stomach and bowel pain, and to increase vital heat:

o Bayberry root bark, 2 lbs.

o Hemlock inner bark, 1 lb.

o Ginger, 1 lb.

o Cayenne, 2 oz

o Cloves, 2 oz.

One of the many failings in this system was Thomson's total aversion to further medical education; he had a profound anti-intellectual attitude to medical elitism.

In response to Thomson's rigidity and dictatorial nature, one of his assistants, Alva Curtis (1797-1881), created his own professional group of physicians, the Physio-medicalists. They founded their own sectarian medical schools and focused on the use of a large materia medica of nontoxic herbs. In addition, they developed a very complex (some would say obtuse) theoretical basis for their practice. Part of the Physio-medicalist theory included an energetic diagnostic system somewhat similar to the Chinese concept of yin and yang. Patients' constitutions and organ systems were seen as either Asthenic (hypoactive, deficient) or Sthenic (hyperactive, excess). Herbs were then prescribed according to information ascertained by pulse, tongue, and other physical diagnostic procedures.

This system never developed strong support in the United States; at their height of popularity in the 1880s they only numbered 1000 practitioners. Interestingly enough, this system was transported to England where it flourished and was taught at the four-year College of Herbal Medicine until the 1970s.

Another sectarian group of "herbal" physicians was started in the 1830s by Wooster Beach, MD (1794-1868). Beach founded the Reformed Botanic movement (or the "American System of Medicine") to create an effective, professional medical system emphasizing indigenous vegetable (herbal) materia medica. He founded the Reformed Botanic College in New York which later relocated in Ohio (Worthington, then Cincinnati). Eventually Beach's presence faded, and the movement chose a new name: Eclectic Medicine. The Eclectics introduced many herbs into common use. Following is an outline of a few important ones:

Purple Coneflower root -- Echinacea, spp. -- Acute viral and bacterial infection: colds, flu, bronchitis, urethritis, septicemia

Goldenseal root -- Hydrastis canadensis --- Boggy, atonic mucus membranes with tendency toward infection - strep throat, cervicitis, conjunctivitis

Blue Flag root -- Iris versicolor -- Enlarged thyroid, clay-colored stools with Lymphatic congestion

Black Cohosh root (Macrotys) -- Cimicifuga racemosa -- Muscular neuralgia - fibromyalgia, uterine pain, post-partum pain

Culver's Root (Leptandra) -- Veronicastrum virginica -- Sluggish liver with constipation, liver tender to touch, frontal headaches

Gelsemium -- Gelsemium sempervirons -- Nervous irritation - flushed face, contracted pupils, facial neuralgia

Wild Indigo -- Baptisia tinctoria -- Tissue that is purplish with infection and impaired circulation - septicemia, gangrene, putrid sore throat

Cactus -- Selenicereus grandiflorus -- Functional irregularities of the heart, valvular murmurs, feebleness of old age

The Eclectic philosophy allowed physicians to select therapies from other medical sects such as Allopathy, Homeopathy, and Hydrotherapy that would benefit the individual patient. By the late 1850s the Eclectics were flourishing; Eclecticism and Homeopathy were the two primary alternatives to medical orthodoxy. The maxim that "in success are the seeds of failure and in failure are the seeds of success" proved true for Eclecticism. Constant internecine fighting, "the Eclectic resinoid craze" ' and declining enrollment in the Eclectic Medical schools during the Civil War left the Eclectic Movement in near collapse by 1865. From the ashes of disaster John Milton Scudder (1829-1894) almost single handedly resurrected Eclectic Medicine.

In his books, Specific Medication and Specific Medicines and Specific Diagnosis, Scudder proposed a new model for practice. In this system small doses of high quality single herbs replaced large quantities of often nauseating polyherbal preparations. Each herb was carefully studied to find its "specific indication" in clinical practice. A system of differential diagnosis was developed to give the practitioner clear insights to effective prescribing. In short Scudder took the best of Eclectic Medicine, Homeopathy, Rademacher's Organ Remedies, and vast empirical experience to create a "Unique System of Herbal Practice." Initially many Eclectics balked at the new system (called Scudderism or Neo-homeopathy by critics) but experience proved its value and effectiveness. The Golden Era of Eclectic Medical Practice, 1875-1895, found over 10,000 Eclectic physicians practicing throughout the United States. There were eight legitimate eclectic medical schools and the "American System of Herbal Medicine" seemed secure in its place.

Changing centuries, new ideas that the Eclectics were reluctant to embrace, the onslaught of the American Medical Association and foundation money (Rockefeller and Carnegie, the Flexnor Report), and the deaths of many Eclectic giants (Scudder, King, A.J. Howe), led to the gradual decline and eventual disappearance of Eclectic Medicine. The Eclectic Medical College, the last school of Eclectic Medicine, closed its doors in 1939.

During the waning days of Eclectic Medicine, three men stand out as successors to J.M. Scudder and his Specific medication. Each of these physicians helped to evolve Scudder's philosophies closer to the ideal he initiated.

Harvey Wickes Felter (1865- 1927) was editor of the Eclectic Medical Journal and Eclectic Medical Gleaner, co-author with John Uri Lloyd of King's Dispensatory, 19th edition (1983 reprint Eclectic Medical Publication) and author of The Eclectic Materia Medica. Pharmacology, and Therapeutics, a manual for clinical practice.

The history of Eclectic Medicine could not be told without mention of one of the greatest geniuses of herbal pharmacy, John Uri Lloyd. The Lloyd brothers pharmacy made it their primary focus to produce the highest quality herbal extracts and other Eclectic products to serve the 1000's of Eclectic doctors throughout the United States. Upon closing of the Lloyd brothers' pharmacy, a grant was bestowed in perpetuum to maintain an Eclectic library in Cincinnati, Ohio, the site of the last and most important Eclectic Medical college. The library, as a result of the Lloyd grant, remains open today and continues to be funded. It is the Vatican for any serious herbal student and practitioner of North America. It houses the entire Eclectic medical library as well as some of the most outstanding books on herbalism and botany collected by the Lloyd brothers and donated to the library.

Finley Ellingwood (1852-1920) was publisher of the Chicago Medical Times and Ellingwood's Therapeutist He was author of American Materia Medica and Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy (11 th edition 1919, reprinted by Eclectic Medical Publications, 1995), one of the greatest works on specific medication ever published.

Eli G. Jones (1850-1933) authored Definite Medication (1985 reprint Jain, New Delhi) and Cancer, Its Causes, Its Treatment, and Its Cure. Jones created a synthesis of Eclectic, Homeopathic, Biochemic, and Physio-medicalist systems that utilizes tongue, pulse, and facial diagnosis to precisely ascertain which remedies are appropriate for each specific patient's unique symptom picture. Felter's, Ellingwood's, and Jones' books are so useful that they are still in print and are the best guides we have to effective practice of Specific/Definite Medication

While few herbalists, M.D.s, or N.D.s are fluent in this system of practice, the textbooks and their authors' accumulated wisdom are available to learn from, synthesize, and utilize to make herbal practice more effective, precise, and safe.


1. These active constituent resins, discovered by John King, MD (1813-1893) - podophyllin, irisin, macrotin, and leptandrin - were stable and active resins precipitated out of liquid extracts. Unfortunately, the drug companies of the day used the same idea to produce "resinoids" from the entire materia medica only to belatedly discover these products were totally inert.

2. The new sciences of bacteriology and pharmacology are prominent examples.


Boyle, Wade. The Herb Doctors. Buckeye Naturopathic Press: East Palestine, Ohio. 1988.

Griggs, Barbara. Green Pharmacy. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, Vermont. 199I.

Haller, J.S. Medical Protestants. South Illinois University Press: Carbondale. Illinois. 1994.

Wilder, A. The History of Medicine. Maine Farmer Publications: Augusta, Maine. 1904.

Wood, Matthew. The Magical Staff North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, California. 1992.

Books on Specific Medication:

Ellingwood. American Materia Medica and Therapeutics. 1919.

Felter. The Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. 1911:

Jones, E.G. Definite Medication. 1911.

Rademacher, J.G. Rademachers Universal and Organ Remedies. Boericke and Tafel: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Scudder, J.M. Specific Medicines and Specific Medication. Cincinnati, Ohio. 1874.

Scudder, J.M. Specific Diagnosis. Cincinnati, Ohio. 1874.

Outline of History of Chinese Medicine

As with all traditional cultures, the Chinese knowledge of the therapeutic properties of plants is primarily based upon trial and error. The earliest recorded Chinese herbal was the Shen Nong Pen T'sao Jing or Emperor Shen Nong's Classic Herbal. Shen Nong, the God-Farmer was one of three legendary kings of ancient Chinese history. He was also known as Di Huang, King of the Earth while the other two were Tian Huang, the King of Heaven, and Ren Huang, the King of Humans.

Before Shen Nong, Chinese society was based on hunting and gathering. Legend states that to encourage greater social stability and continuity, Shen Nong was the first to teach farming and agriculture to the Chinese and the first to discover the knowledge of medicinal herbs. Because of his compassion for the sick, he would go into the countryside and poison himself a hundred times by tasting various plants and substances, each time finding a natural antidote. The results of Shen Nong's discovery was recorded in the Shen Nong Pen T'sao, meaning Shen Nong's Herbal.

Out of myth and legend, Chinese herbalism evolved and every official herbal has since been titled '˜Pen T'sao' in honor of Shen Nong's contribution. The first Shen Nong Pen T'sao published in 200 BC was lost but subsequent references inform us that it contained 365 herbs. These were subdivided as follows: 120 emperor herbs of high, food grade quality which are non- toxic and can be taken in large quantities to maintain health over a long period of time, 120 minister herbs, some mildly toxic and some not, that have stronger therapeutic action to heal diseases, finally there are 125 servant herbs that have specific action to treat disease and eliminate stagnation. Most of those in the last group are toxic and are not intended to be used daily over a prolonged period of weeks and months.

The earliest known and most important document of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the Huang-ti Nei-ching (The yellow Emperor's classic of internal medicine, written in the 3rd century BC. It's authorship is ascribed to the fabled Yellow Emperor, Huang-ti and expounds on the theoretical concepts of Yin Yang, Five Elements and other principles related to health and healing that have been the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine down through the ages.

Hua Tuo (100-208) is regarded as one of the greatest acupuncturists and surgeons of Chinese medical history. He is famous for the discovery and use of a special set of accessory points along the spine which are called '˜Hua-Tuo' points. He was also a highly skilled herbalist.

There is a famous story that bespeaks the psychological aspect of healing that was part of his practice. It involved a famous governor who, having been sick for a prolonged period, bestowed generous gifts on his renowned physician, Hua Tuo, in expectation of treatment. The governor eventually became increasingly frustrated and angry because despite his lavish endowments, Hua Tuo did not give him any medicine to relieve his malady. In fact, he would further taunt and scoff at the governor. This eventually resulted in Hua Tou fleeing the district for his life to escape the governor's wrath. Fortunately, the governor was unable to apprehend the exiled Hua Tuo. His anger, however, rose to such a pitch of intensity that he vomited dark bile and blood, after which he completely recovered.

Between 220 and 589 China was once again wracked by civil wars. As a result the Shen Nong Pen T'sao Jing was threatened by abuse and neglect. During this time Buddhism was promulgated throughout the Northern and Southern Dynasties of China. Northern Chinese society was strongly influenced by the cultures of the steppe and the Sino-Tibetan frontier region and tended to lack strong central direction and was warlike and illiterate. In contrast, the Southern Dynasty situated around the Yang Zi basin was aristocratic and sophisticated. During this time famous Buddhist caves with giant carvings were created as natural sanctuaries and the emperor was regarded as the '˜living Buddha'.

There was a wide dissemination of knowledge between distant cultures as Chinese monks such as Faxian during the 5th century ventured into India and Indian monks during the 6th century disseminated Indian culture throughout China. Because of commercial trading, there were also influences to and from Japan, Korea and far-off Arab lands.

During this time alchemy was further developed. Taoism links medicine and alchemy. The Taoist quest for longevity, begun in earlier times, persisted with research and experimentation in the consumption of cinnabar. Unfortunately this led to a plethora of characteristic symptoms of mercury toxicity.

With the interest in alchemy came the development of pharmaceutical science and the creation of a number of books including in 492, Tao Hong Jing's (456-536) compilation of the Pen T'sao Jing Ji Zhu (Commentaries on the Herbal Classic) based on the Shen Nong Pen T'sao Jing. In that book 730 herbs were described and classified in six categories: 1) stone (minerals), 2) grasses and trees, 3) insects and animals, 4) fruits and vegetables, 5 grains and 6) named but unused. This has become the most influential and oldest herbal found in the Tun Huang District, northwest of Kansu Province.

Because of frequent wars, medicine developed which led to the creation of the first Chinese text on surgery being written during this time. Another contribution of the Chinese '˜Middle Ages' was the establishment of the first formal Chinese medical school created in 443 by the Emperor's physician Qin Chengzu during one of the Southern Dynasties. Before this time medical knowledge was exclusively passed down from master to pupil.

During the 2nd century, Wang Shuhe compiled all previously known knowledge of the pulse in his famous Maijing (Pulse Classic). This in turn led to the introduction of pulsology into Arabic medicine.

During the Sui (589-618) the study of herbal medicine blossomed with the creation of specialized books on plants and herbal medicine. Some of these set forth the method for the gathering of herbs in the wild as well as their cultivation. Over 20 herbal's were chronicled in the Sui Shu Jing Ji Zhi (Bibliography of the history of Sui). These include the books Zhong Zhi Yue Fa (How to Cultivate Herbs) and the Ru Lin Cai Yue Fa (How to collect Herbs in the Forest.

The most important clinical manual of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the Shang Hang Lun (Treatise On the Treatment of Acute Diseases Caused by Cold). It was written by Chang Chung-Ching (Ad 142-220) and describes the Six Stages of acute disease caused by the invasion of Cold. It was written as a result of Chang's tragic experience of losing three-quarters of his family from a plague. During that time, he observed the ineffective treatment of many of the herb doctors of the time with their inability to effectively respond to the changing character of acute disease. The Six Stages, presented in a later lesson in this course, offers an approach to diagnosis and treatment of acute diseases and common colds, influenza, allergies, coughs, and other communicable diseases.

The fame and reputation of the Shang Han Lun as well as its companion book, Chin Kuei Yao Lueh (Prescriptions from the Golden Chamber) both by Chang Chung Ching, is the historical origin of the most important classical herbal formulas that have became the basis of Chinese and Japanese-Chinese herbalism (called "Kanpo"). The formulas described in these texts have since been extensively studied and their use expanded to treat a wide variety of both acute and chronic diseases.

The Tang (618-907) is regarded as the greatest dynasty in Chinese history because of the many contributions to art, medicine and the sciences made during that period. The Tang Xin Pen T'sao, (Tang Materia Medica) the official materia medica of the Tang Dynasty was China's first illustrated herbal and contained 844 entries. Besides officially sanctioned herbal's, many works created by independent citizens were also created during the Tang including the Yue Xing Pen T'sao (The Book of Herb Properties) by Zhen Quan. It was when Zhen Quan was 120 years old that Emperor Tai Zong (629-649) visited him and the aged herbalist bestowed his work upon the Emperor.

Sun Simiao (581-682) regarded as the "King of Prescriber" was perhaps the most popular figure in Chinese medicine. Having steeped himself in the three pillars of Chinese wisdom based on Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, Sun, being of fragile health decided to dedicate his life to the study and practice of medicine.

Because he refused many tempting offers of wealth and prestige from various emperors of the time to live the life of a humble country doctor, Sun Simiao has since been revered and respected as a great humanitarian. His actual practice and knowledge are known only through two works, Qianjin Yaofang (Prescriptions of the Thousand Ounces of Gold) and Qianjin Yifang (Supplement). Because Sun regarded human life as precious, the term '˜gold' reflects his regard for human life.

Sun regarded the integration of acupuncture, moxibustion and the use of drugs as a complete system of medicine. Relying solely on the Four Methods of Diagnosis (observation, listening, interrogation and palpation), he considered that the pulse should only be studied after listening to the patient and observing the tone of voice and complexion. He also strongly advocated prevention and pre-diagnosis to be superior than the treatment of disease. The ideal physician, Sun Simiao's interest and influence extended to his incorporation of the principles of the Shang Han Lun, proper harvesting of medicinal plants, the causes of disease and his enthusiastic advocation of maternal and infant care.

In Qian Jin Shi Zhi, Sun said: "In the old days, herbalists collected herbs themselves at the right time and in the right place, and they processed the herbs properly. That is why they were able to cure nine out of ten of their patients. Nowadays, doctors only know how to prescribe. Most of the herbs they are using were not collected and processed properly so they can only cure five or six out of ten of their patients." More than any of his contributions, Sun Simia has come to represent the exalted embodiment of integrity, compassion and benevolence.

During the Song dynasty (960-1279) the first herbal that was officially published was the Kai Bao Pen T'sao (Kai Bao was the name of the emperor of that time) in 973. It was later revised and enlarged by the Taoist, Liu Han and others and published as Kai Bao Zhong Ding Pen T'sao (Revised Kai Bao Herbal).

In 1552, during the later Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Li Shi Zhen (1518-1593) began work on the monumental Pen T'sao Kan Mu (Herbal with Commentary). Li, dedicated his life to travel throughout the distant reaches of the empire to consult directly with people in many places regarding local remedies. He further consulted 277 herbal's as references, the classics, histories and many other books --- a total of approximately 440 in all. After 27 years and three revisions, the Pen T'sao Kan Mu was completed in 1578. The book lists 1892 drugs, 376 described for the first time with 1160 drawings. It also lists more than 11,000 prescriptions.

Li's compilation of the Pen T'sao Kan Mu represents an attempt to correct the errors of his predecessors regarding the names and descriptions of medical substances. He also carefully noted the time and methods of harvest and the preparation and use of drugs. He derided as foolish the belief that the mushroom Lingzhi or Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) could prevent death. Besides his monumental materia medica, Li Shi Zhen was also the author of the Binhu Maixue (A Study of the Pulse) and Qijing Bamai Kao (An Examination of the Eight Extra Meridians). During his lifetime he was also regarded as a great physician who set forth the hitherto unique concept of the '˜brain as the location of the principal vital influence' i.e. mental awareness. Li relied heavily on the classics, the Huang-ti Nei-ching and the Shang Han Lun yet maintained a fresh critical stance whenever he personally observed in practice situations and conditions that were at variance with tradition. Among his many contributions to pathology was his observation of cholelithiasis as a disease distinct from mere hypochondria or epigastic pain. He also promoted the use of ice to bring down fever and the technique of disinfection which involved soaking patient's clothes in a steam bath to protect family members from contamination. To protect patients from epidemic disease, Li advocated the burning of Atractylodes lancea (Cang Zhu) as a fumigant.

As with Sun Simiao and other great Chinese physicians, Li attributed greater significance to prevention than cure following the approach of the Neijing which states:

"To cure disease is like waiting until one is thirsty before digging a well, or to fabricate weapons after the war has commenced." Thus the Pen T'sao Kan Mu lists more than 500 remedies to maintain and strengthen the body, with over 50 of these created by Li Shi Zhen himself. He described the use and preparation of a wide variety of preparations including ointments, pills and powders and recommended the preparation of various medicinal broth's with herbs including wheat, rice, chestnut, radish, garlic, ginger and vital organ meats of various animals.

Li Shi Zhen was a great pharmacognocist, pharmacologist, physician, zoologist, botanist and mineralogist and made a profound and lasting contribution to humanity as well as the Chinese people in particular. Like Sun Simiao, he was also a great humanitarian with high Confucian-inspired medical ethics, promoting all to the care and welfare of their fellow humanity. The most popular image we have of him is observing the flower of the Datura.

During the Qing dynasty beginning in 1644 to the first Opium war in 1839-42, more than 20 herbal were published. These included the Pen T'sao Kan Mu Shi Yi (Herbs Not Listed in the Pen T'sao Kan Mu) . During this period European influence gradually spread into China, the Huang Ti Nei-Ching (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine) became recognized as the '˜bible' of Chinese medicine with wide interest from commentators extending from the 17th to the 19th century. The fame and reputation of the Shang Han Lun as well as the companion book, Chin Kuei Yao Lueh (Prescriptions from the Golden Chamber) both by Chang Chung Ching, also grew during this time. One of the most important evolution's that occurred was the theory of diseases caused by Heat, in distinction to the Shang Han Lun ('˜cold induced diseases'). While the notion of Heat as a pathogenic influence was first formulated by Liu Wansu, it became more firmly established as a pathogenic influence during the 17th century with Wou Youxin who postulated and observed the effect of epidemic pestilence and plague as Heat diseases entering through the mouth and nose.

From 1842-4 various treaties, missionaries and foreign doctors established hospitals, treaty ports and the translation of western medical works. Chinese doctors began to be educated in Western medicine and even sent abroad to study. With the influence of Western medicine the practice of Chinese medicine, based on time honored tradition, continued to evolve throughout the period from 1840 to 1911. The physician Zhu Peiwen, author of Huayang Zangxiang Yuezuan (1892) conceptualized a comparative understanding of the organs based on Chinese and Western concepts. He decided that there were both advantages and disadvantages to Chinese and western approaches.

From 1911 to 1949 with the establishment of the People's Republic the nationalist government under Sun Yat-sen declared in 1924 that China must '˜grasp the initiative and not remain backward'. Since Sun Yat-sen received western-styled medical training, he probably was a strong advocate of establishing western medicine as the premiere medical approach. There were considerable benefits in improved public hygiene, especially in urban areas with clear running water and the establishment of a central bureau to help combat epidemics. In rural China, however, traditional Chinese medicine continued to be practiced by itinerant Barefoot Doctors whose training was on the basis of student apprenticeship.

It was the vision of Chairman Ma Zedong who declared Traditional Chinese Medicine a national treasure and stated that '˜we must strive to explore it fully and raise it to a higher level'. As a result Traditional Chinese Medicine represents an attempt to rationalize Chinese Medicine with western scientific medicine, by initiating state sponsored research of herbs and treatments and downplaying the role of Taoist-Buddhist psycho-spiritual practices. With the introduction of TCM in the west there is currently a renewed interest in the value and reintegration of psycho-spiritual orientation for the treatment of disease.

Brief Background & History of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the term for the traditional medicine of ancient India. Ayur means life and veda means the study of, which is the origin of the term. The Vedas are the earliest sacred books of India of which there are four: Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharva-veda. While there was really no Veda called Ayurveda, Susruta, one of the earliest and most celebrated doctors of Ayurveda and the author of one of the classic texts, the Susruta Samhita, calls Ayurveda an upanga or minor Veda of the Atharva-Veda.

The earliest Vedic texts, dating from 1500-1200 BC were especially concerned with aging, various afflictions, the prescription of cures involving prayers and herbal medicines. Later Ayurvedic concepts and descriptions derive from the early Vedic perspective of the make-up of the human being.

As with all medical knowledge, Ayurveda is originated from the combination of empirical knowledge handed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next and the meditation of learned sages. The Caraka Samhita, the classic text of Ayurveda, depicts the gathering of famous healers and sages with the Indian god of healing, Dhanwantari, expounding on the principles of health and healing.

Ayurveda may well be the source for universal Planetary principles of healing throughout the ancient world based on balance and harmony with nature and the utilization of therapeutic diet, herbs, rituals, various physio-therapies. These principles were accordingly modified as they became modified by the different cultures, customs and geographical conditions. In Tibetan medicine, for instance, we see an obvious blend of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, with the use of herbs, the principles of Five Elements, the Three Humours, acupuncture and moxibustion, all characteristic of Traditional Chinese Medicine and found to a varying extent in Ayurveda.

Today, with the growing appreciation of traditional Asian culture and spiritual disciplines such as Yoga and meditation, there is a general renewal of interest perhaps because many consider that Ayurveda, represents a much closer connection to spiritual principles of healing. This, in contrast to Traditional Chinese Medicine, from which the overtones of spiritual Taoism has been expunged by the communists in recent times, and in the materialistic orientation. As Traditional Chinese Medicine reintegrates its Taoist orientation, and Western holistic medicine reintegrates body-mind principles of healing, there is a path where all systems of medicine are once again rediscovering their psycho- spiritual roots with physical holistic medicine.

Compiled by Richard L. Farr

The method of Eclectic Specific Medication was developed by John Milton Scudder, M.D. in the early 1870's and became the dominant approach to therapeutics by the Eclectic School of Medicine until the disappearance of Eclecticism from the medical scene in the 1940's. Eclectic Specific Medication is based upon the elective affinity (tropism) of medicinal substances for specific tissues and organs. In addition to knowing which tissues and organs a particular herb has an elective affinity for, it is also necessary to know:

a) the specific symptoms of the tissue/organ calling for a particular herb, and

b) the specific symptoms of the individual's systemic reaction to imbalance of the tissue/organ involved.

Merely diagnosing the presence of a particular disease will not be sufficient to select the specific herbal medicine needed for the case: HOW the individual is expressing their reaction to that disease condition via their own unique specific symptoms, is the key to selecting the herbal corrective remedy (or remedies) needed by that individual at that particular stage of their imbalance. This was the method worked out by Dr. Scudder and his associates, such as John King, Finley Ellingwood, H.T. Webster, John Uri Lloyd, Eli Jones, and other investigators. Practical application of this method enabled the Eclectic School of Medicine to achieve highly successful results both in acute cases and in conditions of chronic ill-health. The following is a listing of the organ affinities of the botanical remedies thus precisioned by the Eclectic Specific Medicationists. The specific symptomatology for each herb-the herb's "specific indications"-can be studied in the reference works left to us by the authors listed above.

(Note: currently available herbal extracts are listed by their English common names; botanicals which are only available {o-t-c} in attenuated form {usually in the "3x" liquid dilution, which is a 1% concentration of the herb's "Mother Tincture"} are listed by the H.P.U.S. Latin names used in homeopathy.)

Brain & Nervous System

Aletris (True Unicorn Root)
American Ginseng
Belladonna 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Black Cohosh
Blue Vervain
California Poppy
Camphora 1x "Mother Tincture"
Conium maculatum 3x liq.dil.
Cramp Bark
Evening Primrose
Gelsemium sempervirens 3x li.dil.
Goldenseal Root
Hawthorne Berry
Helonias (False Unicorn Root)
Hyoscyamus niger 3x liq.dil.
Ignatia amara 3x liq.dil.
Jamaica Dogwood
Kola Nut
Linden Flower
Musk Root (sumbul)
Night-blooming Cereus
Nux vomica 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Passion Flower
Prickly Ash
Pulsatilla nigricans 1x "Mother Tincture"
Saint Johnswort (Hypericum)
Saw Palmetto
Secale cornutum 3x liq.dil.
Staphisagria 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Stramonium 6x liq.dil.
Wild Lettuce
Wild Oat
Wood Betony

Nasal Mucosa & Throat

Amenopsis (Yerba Mansa)
Blue Flag
Blue Violet (Sweet Violet)
Goldenseal Root
Guaiacum (Lignum Vitae)
Oregon Grape Root
Penthorum sedoides 1x "Mother Tincture"
Poke Root
Saw Palmetto Berry
Witch Hazel

Laryngeal Conditions (Chronic)

Arum triphyllum 3x liq.dil.
Penthorum sedoides 1x "Mother Tincture"
Poke Root
Stone Root (Collinsonia)
Witch Hazel

Lungs/Bronchi/Pleura (Chronic Conditions)

Balsam tolu 1x "Mother Tincture"
Bryonia alba 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Greater Celandine (Chelidonium)
Pleurisy Root
Red Clover Blossom
Saw Palmetto Berry
Squilla maritima 3x liq.dil.
Wild Cherry
Yerba Santa

Heart & Arterial Circulation

Aconitum napellus 6x liq.dil.
Adonis vernalis 3x liq.dil.
Arnica montana 3x liq.dil.
Bitter Candytuft (Iberis amara)
Black Cohosh
Bryonia alba 3x liq.dil.
Convallaria majalis 3x liq.dil.
Hawthorne Berry
Lilium tigrinum 1x "Mother Tincture"
Lycopodium clavatum 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Night-blooming Cereus
Poke Root
Prickly Ash
Secale cornutum 3x liq.dil.
Spigelia anthelminticum 3x liq.dil.
Squilla maritima 3x liq.dil.
Stone Root (heart affinity, not arteries)
Strophanthis hispidus 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Sumbul 3x liq.dil.
Veratrum viride 3x liq.dil.

Veins & Veinous Circulation

Horse Chestnut
Milk Thistle
Nux vomica 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Pulsatilla nigricans 1x "Mother Tincture"
Stone Root (Collinsonia)
Witch Hazel

Stomach & Intestinal Tract

Aletris (True Unicorn Root)
American Ginseng
Blue Flag
Calamus Root (Sweet Flag)
Cascara sagrada
Chelone glabra 1x "Mother Tincture"
Cocculus indica 3x liq.dil.
Conium maculatum 3x liq.dil.
Cranesbill (Alum Root)
Comfrey Root
Culver's Root (Leptandra)
Dandelion Root
Epigea repens 1x "Mother Tincture"
Evening Primrose
Gentian Root
Goldenseal Root
Horse Chestnut
Ignatia amara 3x liq.dil.
Jambul Seed
Meadow Sweet
Neutralizing Cordial (combination remedy)
Nux vomica 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Oak bark
Peach leaf
Podophyllinum (resin) 3x - 6x trituration
Prickly Ash
Ptelea (Wafer Ash) 1x "Mother Tincture"
Slippery Elm
Stone Root (Collinsonia)
Wild Cherry
Witch Hazel

Chronic Abdominal Pain (no lesions found)

Culver's Root (Leptandra)
Nux vomica 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Podophyllinum (resin) 3x - 6x trituration
Wild Yam Root


Blue Flag
Chelone glabra 1x "Mother Tincture"

Liver & Gall Bladder

Barberry Root
Blue Flag
Bryonia alba 3x liq.dil.
Chelone glabra 1x "Mother Tincture"
Cinchona officinalis 3x liq.dil.
Culver's Root (Leptandra)
Dandelion Root
Euonymus (Wahoo) 1x "Mother Tincture"
Greater Celandine (Chelidonium)
Lycopodium clavatum 3x liq.dil.
Milk Thistle
Nux vomica 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Oregon Grape Root
Podophyllinum (resin) 3x - 6x trituration


Blue Flag
Cinchona officinalis 3x liq.dil.
Polymnia uvedalia 1x "Mother Tincture"
Quercus glandium spiritus 1x liq.dil.
Red Root (Ceanothus americana)
Squilla maritima 3x liq.dil.
Stinging Nettle (U. urens especially)

Kidneys (also urine, quality of)

Barberry Root
Epigea repens 1x "Mother Tincture"
Helonias (False Unicorn Root)
Hydrangea (7 Barks)
Jambul Seed
Juniper Berry
Ladies Mantle
Lycopodium clavatum 3x liq.dil.
Oxydendron 1x "Mother Tincture"
Pipsessewa (Chimaphila)
Queen of the Meadow (Eupatorium purpurea)
Squilla maritima 3x liq.dil.
Stinging Nettle (U. urens especially)
Sweet Sumach

Bladder & Urethra (sub-acute & chronic cases)

Cubeba 1x "Mother Tincture" - 3x liq.dil
Elaterium 3x - 6x trituration or liq.dil.
Epigea repens 1x "Mother Tincture"
Hydrangea (7 Barks)
Lycopodium clavatum 3x liq.dil.
Nux vomica 3x liq.dil. or trituration
Pipsessewa (Chimaphila)
Quack Grass (Triticum repens)
Queen of the Meadow (Eupatorium purpurea)
Shepherd's Purse
Staphisagria 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Xanthium spinosa 1x "Mother Tincture"

Male Reproductive System

Black Willow
Ignatia amara 3x liq.dil.
Nuphar luteum 3x liq.dil.
Poke Root
Pulsatilla nigricans 1x "Mother Tincture"
Saw Palmetto Berry
Sea Holly (Eryngo)
Secale cornutum 3x liq.dil.
Staphisagria 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Stone Root (Collinsonia)
Wild Oat
Witch Hazel

Female Reproductive System

Aletris (True Unicorn Root)
American Ash (Fraxinus americanus)
Belladonna 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Black Cohosh
Black Haw
Blue Cohosh
Conium maculatum 3x liq.dil.
Cotton Root
Cramp Bark
Goldenseal Root
Helonias (False Unicorn Root)
Ignatia amara 3x liq.dil.
Ladies Mantle
Lilium tigrinum 1x "Mother Tincture"
Partridge Berry
Periwinkle (Lesser)
Poke Root
Pond Lily
Prickly Ash
Pulsatilla nigricans 1x "Mother Tincture"
Queen of the Meadow (Eupatorium purpurea)
Raspberry Leaf
Saw Palmetto Berry
Sea Holly (Eryngo)
Secale cornutum 3x liq.dil.
Senecio aureus 3x liq.dil.
Shepherd's Purse
Stone Root (Collinsonia)
Sweet Sumach
Trillium (Beth Root)
Ustilago maydis 3x liq.dil.
Vitex agnus-castus
Wild Yam Root


Ailanthus glandulosa 3x liq.dil.
Bryonia alba 3x liq.dil.
Corydalis formosa (Dicentra canadensis) 1x
Conium maculatum 3x liq.dil.
Dulcamara 2x - 3x liq.dil.
Echinacea (angustifolia)
Figwort (Scropularia)
Oregon Grape Root
Pipsessewa (Chimaphila)
Poke Root
Polymnia uvedalia 1x "Mother Tincture"
Red Root (Ceanothus americanus)
Wild Indigo (Baptisia)

Musculo-Skeletal System

Apocynum andromosefolia 3x liq.dil.
Arnica montana
Barberry Root
Black Cohosh
Blue Cohosh
Blue Vervain
Bryonia alba 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Cascara sagrada
Colchicum autumnale 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Comfrey Root
Echinacea (angustifolia)
European Ash leaf (Fraxinus excelsior)
Franciscia manaca (uniflora) 1x "Mother Tincture"
Guaiacum (Lignum Vitae)
Horse Chestnut
Ignatia amara 3x - 6x liq.dil.
Juniper Berry
Kalmia latifolia 3x liq.dil.
Ledum palustre 1x "Mother Tincture"
Lungwort (Sticta)
Meadow Sweet
Oregon Grape Root
Poke Root
Pulsatilla nigricans 1x "Mother Tincture"
Rhamnus californica 1x "Mother Tincture"
Rhus toxicodendron 3x liq.dil.
Stone Root (Collinsonia)
Wild Yam Root
White Willow
Witch Hazel

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