History of phytotherapy (herbal medicine) through the centuries
The healing properties of plants and herbs have left a big mark in the history of many nations. Knowledge and use of plants, animal and inorganic raw materials has evolved with numerous cultures. The medicinal properties of plants have made life easier for many people in previous centuries and removed many health problems and inconveniences.
Herbal treatment in ancient Egypt
The Egyptians knew many herbs, medicinal preparations and ingredients. The Egyptians initially used raw materials from the flora around the Nile River. They later expanded their power and trade influence, so they sought more expensive herbal ingredients, spices and strong fragrances from the East. They used beech, sea onion (against seasickness), sage, marjoram, mint, gentian, castor and oil, olive oil, horseradish seed, ivy, saffron, wormwood, wild wormwood, lily, St. John’s wort, incense, cinnamon and scents and spices from India (around 1500 BC). As early as 1550 BC, medicinal plants are mentioned in Eber’s papyri. The Egyptians knew the art of embalming, distilling fragrant waters and perfumes. Various related ingredients have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Ancient Egypt has had an impact on the development of healing skills, the making of medicines and the overall culture of various ancient peoples and civilizations. These desert peoples used, among other things, opium, galbanum, asophetida, garlic and other juices of desert and steppe plants. Recent research says that the construction of historic colossi (Egyptian pyramids) has been successful due to the daily use of medicinal plants. Infectious diseases would be fatal to thousands of pyramid builders if there were no plants in the conditions of the most severe primitivism and without basic hygienic conditions (lack of toilets and clean water). Yet most ancient peoples believed that prayer was paramount in healing. Ancient peoples believed that the effect of prayer was stronger and more reliable even than medicines that would eventually be given to the sick. Priests in the temples mostly kept medical-pharmaceutical skills. Priests were a class that cared about the health of the souls and bodies of ordinary people / believers. They believed and preached to the general public that through prayer, fasting and good deeds, the “evil spirit” (disease) can be expelled from the human body. Wine, oil, urine from humans and animals and the like were used for medical purposes, except for the mentioned plants and preparations.
The best merchants of the ancient century were the Phoenicians
The Phoenicians traded in various plants and herbal preparations and talked about various fabrications (for example, the place where pepper grows is guarded by winged snakes, so the place is more difficult to pass and therefore the medicine is expensive). The Phoenicians used the plants little for their own purposes. Medical advances have been largely transferred from Asia to Europe.
The period before the ancient Greeks was both religious and magical
Priests, Levites, sorcerers, and magicians performed the skill of healing (and making medicines) in rituals and rituals through religious and magical acts. These actions also hindered the development of scientific and experimental understanding of medicine and pharmacy. There was no critical spirit. Most herbs were given to patients in simple pharmaceutical preparations (macerations, infusions, decoctions, oils, wine, liniments and balms). Pharmacy gradually liberated itself from religion and mysticism during the time of the Greeks and Romans. It becomes descriptive and sometimes experimental. Herbal ingredients are given to patients in a significantly larger number of pharmaceutical preparations which is a significant pharmaceutical advancement. Herbalists picked plants and sold them in their own shops. Herodotus (500 BC) mentions castor oil as a fuel, not a medicine. In the 5th century BC, hemlock, milk thistle juice, brioni, kolocintis and the like are mentioned. Orpheus mentions cornflower and garlic. Pythagoras mentions coastal onions, mustard and cabbage. Theophrastus (371-287) wrote “History of Plants”, presenting all previous knowledge about plants. Hippocrates (459-379) is arguably the most famous ancient Greek physician. His works have great historical value. They give readers the first reliable scientific data on the medical-pharmaceutical skills of the ancient Greeks. In these works are mentioned about 300 known plants classified according to physiological effect (wormwood and buckthorn Greeks use against fever, onions against intestinal parasites, narcotics are opium, beetroot, nightshade and mandrake, digestive regulators are: castor, corn, colocinthis, squash and scamonium, for vomiting is: corn and ungulate, diuretics are: sea onion, garlic, celery, parsley, asparagus, for blood clotting are: oak, pomegranate, etc. The hemlock plant was the court poison of the Athenians because this plant poisoned the famous philosopher Socrates The famous philosopher Aristotle dealt with plants and mentioned cinnamon, and the root of iris and hellebore.
The Greek Dioscorides (Pedanije Dioskorides) was a particularly important connoisseur of ancient plant ingredients. He was born in the 1st century in Asia Minor. His classic work “De Materia Medica” was written in 77. The work served on the reputation and example of the Romans and Arabs. The work had a huge impact on physicians for more than 15 centuries and throughout the Middle Ages. To all later medical writers this work was undoubtedly the cause and source. Therefore, in addition to each main ingredient, the opinion of Dioscorides was obligatorily quoted in the first place. He traveled throughout the vast and vast Roman state. He was a military physician of the Roman Legion in Europe, Asia and Africa and learned about medicine and medicine throughout the Roman Empire. chamomile, mint, lemon balm, sage, marjoram, coriander, fennel, almond, sesame and walnut oil, frost and other herbs. It describes more than 500 species, plant, animal and mineral ingredients. Plants are classified according to therapeutic properties. The work was translated into Arabic, Italian, French and Spanish and later into other languages. Its appearance is of historical importance for the science of medicinal plants, medicinal ingredients of plant, animal and mineral origin and all medicines in general.
Over the centuries, the strong and beneficial influence of Dioscorides and Hippocrates has been felt. The famous “Iliad” (from the 8th century BC) mentions a bitter root that is crushed and placed on the wounded leg of a soldier to alleviate pain. The ancient Greek prophetess Pythias also burns plants (and through the smoke that spreads) and in a trance and ecstasy foretells people’s destinies. There must have been poisonous herbs there, because Pythia also succumbed at the end of one such session. It seems that the medicine of ancient peoples appreciates drastic and strong medicines, ie medicines whose effect is quickly and quickly noticed and is emphasized with unstoppable force on all organs of patients. The Alexandrian school felt great medical progress from the 4th century to the advent of the Romans. Then stagnation ensues. But after some time the sciences began to flourish again until the 7th century when the Arabs conquered Egypt.
Medicinal ingredients in all parts of the plant
Fresh plants mostly consist of water, then organic matter and minerals. Alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, fatty substances and fatty oils, essential oils, starch, resins, proteins, sugar, pectins, tannins, mucus, plant dyes, etc. are organic substances in plants. Minerals are mostly present in the leaves of the plant while there are fewer minerals in the stems. So far, thousands of plant species have been discovered and analyzed. Many medicinal ingredients of various chemical groups have been discovered, but most of the plant world is still an enigma and unknown to humans.