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The Healing Herbs of the Ancient World

A herb is a plant or just a part of it used for its flavor or therapeutic qualities. Herbalism has a long history of use as an alternative of conventional medicine. Herbal medicine refers to using a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves or flowers for medicinal purposes. Nowadays herbal products are a preferred way to treat common diseases naturally. But how did it all start?

When 10 000 years ago the ice melted and the sea level rose, huge areas disappeared under the water. The man then found himself confronted with the first major environmental disaster. In order to survive, he was forced to change his previous lifestyle. The hunter-gatherers became the local shepherds and farmers. This secured him his existence, but at the same time it brought new dangers of infectious diseases. Horses, poultry, pigs and other animals housed numerous pathogens that could be transmitted by close contact with people. Contaminated by animal waste water has become a source of infection for cholera and typhoid. The responses to these threats were probably the beginnings of targeted therapies, which consisted of rituals and the use of medicinal herbs.

The first record of applied therapies and medical practices are from the early Bronze Age, around 4000 BC. The Babylonian king Mardukapalidina (772-710 BC) left in his garden spices and herbs for medicinal purposes breed.

The papyri gave information about medicines and their use in ancient Egypt. The most valuable are those who were discovered in the 19th century by the Egyptologist George Ebers and Edwin Smith. The papyrus, "Smith" comes from the first half of the 17th century BC. It deals with broken bones, wounds, abscesses and their medical care. In the 20 meter long papyrus "Ebers" of the 16th Century BC, are described different diseases and are also made suggestions how to treat them. The Egyptians knew about the benefits of medicinal herbs. They were collected and processed together with leaves and petals, fruits, roots, wood, oils and resins. The author of the first serious book was doctor Dioscorides (about 40-90 AD). Under the title "De Materia Medica", he describes about 600 plants, including many medicinal herbs, and supplements with full-page color illustrations. The five-volume Scriptum applied to 17 Century as a standard work of medicine.

The Roman art of healing was also under the influence of Greek. The best example is Galen. One of his greatest achievements was that he first recommended the combination of active ingredients of various herbs. The branch of pharmacology that deals with the manufacture of drugs is called in his honor Galenics.

Today, medicinal plants, as part of herbal medicine are used in many European countries and the U.S. Many of the substances are produced synthetically but medicinal plants are also collected wild. Many of the useful herbs are planted in house gardens being available as a preventative home remedies or diseases.


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Unknown said...

Nice post... Herbal products are always the best way to live healthy. thanks for sharing!

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