To truly understand and appreciate the healing potential of herbal medicine, we must keep firmly in mind the key differences between herbal medicines and pharmaceutical drugs, and the advantages of the natural herbal approach. You see, God holds the patent on herbs, and He isn't selling out! Plants have always played a prominent role in the field of medicine since the first recorded examples. Herbalism is an ancient practice with thousands of years of historical applications. Theory is necessary to guide the observations and hypotheses of the physician in formulating a diagnosis and treatment strategy. Only herbs can assist the body in its vital cleansing work, and reduce the toxic load on the organism. Modern medicine from the 19th … The root was used by practitioners of the healing arts, too, for its analgesic and narcotic properties. One fateful night, during an orgiastic ritual in honor of Dionysus, the reckless youth misbehaved and stole the virtue of one of the god’s maidens. Today, its sweet, mucilaginous root is used to relieve non-productive coughs and offers great service in cases of gastritis and enteritis, while poultices made from it aid in recovery from burns and wounds; the efficacy of these uses are supported by our present understanding of the plant. This isn't to negate the benefits of many modern drugs, which can truly be lifesavers in medical emergencies. Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. Produced within the embrace of the all-nurturing, all-providing Earth Goddess, they also constituted (in the hands of the chthonic goddess Hecate) effective weapons for the healing of body and soul. More generally, it was thought a valuable medicine with benefits for the digestive and respiratory systems. There were. Marjoram is a close relative of oregano, with a slightly more delicate flavour, but with similar uses, in soups, stews… Alterative: Cleansing the blood and lymph and improving detoxification and eliminative organ functioning. Hepatoprotective: Balancing, normalizing and optimizing liver and bile metabolism; regenerating liver cells. Moreover, the sacred serpent, thanks to his underground explorations, knew all the secrets of the roots and had the power to use them for the benefit of the many patients who frequented Asclepius’ healing sanctuaries (asclepieia) seeking to be cleansed and cured. Synthetic drugs, which lack this biological intelligence, are incapable of this immunomodulatory activity. Throughout history, there has been a great amount of exchange, trade and commerce in herbs and other natural medicinal substances, as traditional healers in each region of the world wanted to secure access to effective remedies that produced results. This is the basis of how Greek Medicine … The therapeutic use of licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can be traced back almost 4,000 years, with an entry inscribed in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (18th century BC) revealing its use as a treatment for asthma. Hyperfunction is sedated, and hypofunction is stimulated. All herbs that improve stomach and digestive funtion in some way are called stomachics. Ancient herbalists, including those of Cathay, India, Sumer, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, testify to the use of herbs in the treatment of disease. Aloe Vera. Herbal medicines are superior to synthetic drugs because they have the nutritive value that the drugs lack. This quite profitable enterprise was, as we would now say, a “closed profession,” as the collectors jealously guarded their empirical knowledge about where, how and when to gather therapeutic plants from those who did not belong to their “guild.”. The negative side effects of pharmaceutical drugs cause thousands of unnecessary deaths every year. Some four centuries later, Dioscorides, calling it “Pontic Root” and “Skythion,” recommends it as a curative for harshness of the throat, heartburn, and chest and liver diseases. Also, the biological intelligence inherent in herbs gives many of them a bivalent capacity to adjust or optimize key bodily functions, like digestion, circulation, metabolism and immunity. The choice is yours: Do you want to be healed slower, but better, or quickly but not as well? After a century or so of the chemical approach to medicine, its defects are becoming increasingly clear, in contrast to the natural, holistic benefits of the herbal approach. The poet is also known for his herbal blend called “alimon,” a small draught of which he drank every day in order to never feel hungry. Herbs are living medicines that can vitalize and energize the organism; synthetic drugs, as lifeless substances, can't do this. Traditional Greek herbal medicine echoes this sentiment. Contrast this with the use of pharmaceutical drugs: negative side effects, to a greater or lesser extent, of one kind or another, are usually inevitable, no matter which drug is chosen. All the world's great religions all have passages from their sacred texts advocating the use of herbs for health and healing. In the Bible, the book of Genesis tells us that the fruit of the tree was used for food, and the leaf for medicine. All traditional medical systems, including Greek Medicine, have developed conceptual structures and guidelines for studying and determining these effects, which guide the selection and use of herbs. Crumbled and mixed with salt, it was spread over deep wounds caused by the bite of a rabid dog. These defects include negative, debilitating side effects and the prevalence of drug-induced iatrogenic diseases. Whilst couched in magic and ritual, the Egyptians possessed a great deal of knowledge of healing herbs and repairing physical injuries, amongst the normal population and the workers responsible for building the great monuments of that nation.… Throughout the vast majority of mankind's history, herbs and other natural medicinal substances were the mainstay of medical practice. Using their roots and seeds, doctors treated a host of diseases, from women’s ailments and convulsions to persistent nightmares and epilepsy. In deficiency conditions, tonic herbs with qualities or essences that the body lacks or needs are used to restore health and wholeness. Four centuries later, we again encounter it in the writings of Dioscorides, where he calls it “elenion.” According to myth, elenion sprang from the tears of Helen as she mourned the loss of her helmsman, during her voyage to Egypt with Menelaus following the fall of Troy. The nonspecific, broad spectrum action of herbal tonics and restoratives is unmatched by any synthetic drug. Instead of producing negative side effects, herbs deliver multiple side benefits. Herbs have the nutritive value that synthetic drugs lack. In 129 C.E., Galen was born. Greek Medicine is a constitutionally based healing system that treats the person, not the disease. It was only when medicine began to lose track of the traditional holistic and vitalistic priorities of Greek Medicine in supporting and building the natural resistance of the organism that doctors began to look for stronger and stronger drugs and radical intervention. Pungent stomachics are even hotter and more stimulating in their action, and strongly eliminate excess coldness and phlegm. var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script'); Copyright © 2007 - 2018 by David K. Osborn L. Ac.. All rights reserved. Among the most distinguished historical practitioners of this age-old tradition was the physician Diocles of Karystos (375-295 BC), who reported on medicinal plants, their uses and how to collect them in the now-lost treatise “The Art of Root-Cutting.” Fortunately, lengthy extracts from this work are thought to be preserved in the contemporary writings of Theophrastus (371-287 BC); they’re definitely in Dioscorides’ early pharmacopeia (“De Materia Medica,” 1st century AD), where he describes in detail the healing powers of many roots. This is one of the few plants that all traditional Old World therapeutic approaches agree has important medicinal properties. New powers, however, are also being discovered, including its slow but effective result when taken orally in cases of psoriasis and eczema. - Hippocrates. In ancient medicine, elecampane root found many applications. Many ancient physicians considered peonies a panacea – particularly the species Paeonia mascula and P. officinalis, which Dioscorides respectively calls “male” and “female”, and P. peregrina, pictured above. And so, there is a great degree of overlap between the herbal pharmacopeias of the world's great traditional medical systems. * * * I am tired of relying on pharmaceuticals and chemicals to deal with every … In this pioneering work, the author not only described the properties of the medicinal plants he used, but also included color illustrations, thus providing an invaluable reference guide to ensuing practitioners. Not only that, when it comes to traditional medication, even modern medication is using some ancient Greek manuscript as references and the list of Greek herbs and spices and health benefits below are examples of herbs … From Dioscorides, a Greek physician and botanist who wrote extensively on the subject, to … And so, herbal medicine is a universal practice among all the world's traditional medical systems, which developed systems or models of herbal healing based on the holistic healing principles and concepts inherent to that system. 90) Greek … From these origins, augmented by centuries of experiential trial and error, a body of knowledge and lore developed in each region of the world, which became the world's indigenous folk medicine traditions. Only in the late 19th century did the switchover to chemical medicine start to happen; after the introduction of antibiotics as the new "wonder drugs" in the 1930s, the triumph of synthetic pharmaceutical drugs seemed complete. gcse.async = true; Herbs usually take longer to work than synthetic drugs, but they work naturally, and get to the root of the problem. Excessive heat is cooled, and excessive coldness is warmed and dispersed. As other surviving literary sources also make clear, this disturbing theatrical scene depicts practices not unlike the methods of actual root cutters of that era. Such was this tuber’s power that one slave managed to satisfy 70 women in a single night, just by holding it in his hand. Another well-known root-cutter was Crateuas (1st century BC), personal physician to Mithridates VI, King of Pontus and a great opponent of Rome. Theophrastus, in his “Enquiry into Plants” describes what precautions the root cutters of his era took to protect themselves from its catastrophic power: they would draw three circles around the plant in the dirt with a sword, then dance around it cursing before finally digging out the valuable root while looking westward. The beneficial effect of this soluble fiber on the intestines gives great credence to the ancient belief that elecampane root improves digestion. In Greece, this happened with Hippocrates. Practical experience, either one's own or transmitted from one's teachers, is necessary to select the right herbs and medicines, which actually work. var gcse = document.createElement('script'); So which medicinal herbs that the Ancient Greeks use are worth using today? There is no clear distinction between food and medicine; they are all part of a vast continuum. With all the stresses of modern living, and with all the health problems often associated with them, some of these curatives may again prove useful. Ancient Greeks also used to make flavored wine with this herb. The importance of roots in ancient Greek medicine related not only to their active ingredients but to their symbolic significance as well. Synthetic drugs may give you the quick fix, but this is often deceptive; many times, pharmaceutical drugs merely mask the symptoms, suppress the body's natural healing processes, and may even drive the root cause deeper into the organism. Ancient writers frequently associate hemlock with the magic of necromancers and witches, along with its deadly sister aconite. In conditions of plethora or excess, eliminative herbs with qualities contrary to those of the offending humor are used to reduce or disperse it. The first doctors in the modern … LICORICE. One of the earliest Greek root cutters was the semi-mythical philosopher, seer and poet Epimenides of Crete (7th/6th century BC), said to have successfully cleansed an Athens guilty of sacrilege after the Cylonian Affair (632 BC), when a failed coup led to a massacre outside a temple. Dill. In the throes of sorrow, his father beseeched Dionysus to forgive him and to restore him to life. Greek and Roman Medicine Herbs played a prominent role in ancient Greek and Roman medicine. In Macer's Herbal it is stated that only to look on Marigolds will draw evil humours out and … Their knowledge of medicine developed accordingly. These include herbs, leaves, flowers, fruits, kernels, seeds, pods, peels, rinds, barks, resins, essences, stems and roots. Thanks to its appearance (often resembling a human figure) and its hallucinogenic effects, popular imagination has linked the mandrake to magic and associated it with a multitude of myths. A pharmaceutical drug is a very potent, refined substance that has been designed for a very narrow, specific purpose; and so, it is not metabolized in a balanced, harmonious way by the body and its humors, which creates a whole host of negative side effects. As Paean died, according to myth, he was transformed into his namesake plant with large flowers – the peony; this common name refers to the plants that belong to the genus Paeonia, of which five distinct species exist in Greece. This allowed the physician and pharmacist to formulate and prescribe medicines more accurately. No pharmaceutical drug that your doctor can prescribe will be able to rebuild your body; only whole foods, nutritional supplements and herbs can do that. From these empirical roots the world's great traditional medical systems evolved, in which the physician's selection and use of the appropriate herbs was guided not just by clinical experience, but also by medical theories and principles. Such legendary effects are nothing more, however, than the product of a vivid imagination, as in no part of the orchid have there ever been detected any substances with aphrodisiac properties. Nevertheless, the astute herbalist must know not only which herbs are indicated for which conditions, but also which are contraindicated because their basic natures are unsuitable. This post was originally published on the blog... Editor’s note: The following has been taken from... why athens is becoming a magnet for young expats, not the new berlin: curator katerina gregos on the greek art landscape, how the 1821 greek revolution changed the world, modiano market: restoring the grandeur of a thessaloniki landmark, architect yorgos tzirtzilakis: the emst, odysseus, and the clown. Many herbs benefit the liver, the principal organ of the Natural Faculty, in this way, because they're only natural. Belief that elecampane root improves digestion is warmed and dispersed … ancient Without! 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