Early Medical knowledge known were originally written on papyrus scrolls by the Egyptian Scribes, and by the Chinese Scribes with their extensive knowledge on plants and their medical properties. There were lists of known plants that have been used as herbal medicine, handed down for thousands of years, like the Chinese classic herbal formulas are a form of Chinese herbology, where herbs are combined for greater efficiency, compared to individual herbs. They are the basic herbal formulas that students of Traditional Chinese medicine learn. These plants and herbs were tried and proved over thousands of years. The same with ancients Egyptian plants and herbs.
Long ago, when writing was a secret science, the Egyptian scribe was not a simple copyist. He had the combined training of a calligrapher, a philosopher, a scholar and a scientist. Many physicians prided themselves on bearing the title of scribe among their others, and like Hesyreh, had themselves portrayed with the palette and reeds, the sesh, symbol of that learned class. The actual copying was probably performed in the pir-ankh or Houses of Life that were attached to the temples and where the scholars, physicians, philosophers and scientists of the time used to meet.
In early Christian monasteries in Europe, apothecaries stocked herbal ingredients for their medicines. In the Latin names for plants created by Linnaeus, the word officinalis indicates that a plant was used in this way. For example, the marsh mallow has the classification Althaea officinalis, as it was traditionally used as an emollient to soothe ulcers. Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine are other examples of medical practices that incorporate medical uses of plants.
Islamic Scholars also used extensively known knowledge of medical herbs and plants for medical purposes as had the early Greeks. As Islam spread out of the Arabian Peninsula into Syria, Egypt, and Iran it met long established civilisations and centres of learning. Arab scholars translated philosophical and scientific works from Greek, Syriac. Arab scholars made numerous important scientific and technological advances in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, metallurgy, architecture, textiles, and agriculture. Techniques they developed, such as distillation, crystallisation, and the use of alcohol as an antiseptic, are still used. Arab physicians and scholars also laid the basis for medical practice in Europe. Before the Islamic era, medical care was largely provided by Monks in sanatoriums and annexes to monastries. The main Arabian hospitals were centres of medical education and introduced many of the concepts and structures that we see in modern hospitals, such as separate wards for men and women, personal and institutional hygiene, medical records, and pharmacies.
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Hippocrates, known as the "Father of Modern Medicine", established a medical school at Cos and is the most important figure in ancient Greek medicine. Hippocrates and his students documented numerous illnesses in the Hippocratic Corpus, and developed the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, which is still in use today. The earliest known Greek medical school opened in Cnidus in 700 BC. Alcmaeon, author of the first anatomical compilation, worked at this school, and it was here that the practice of observing patients was established. Despite their known respect for Egyptian medicine, attempts to discern any particular influence on Greek practice at this early time have not been dramatically successful because of the lack of sources and the challenge of understanding ancient medical terminology. It is clear, however, that the Greeks imported Egyptian substances into their pharmacopoeia, and the influence became more pronounced after the establishment of a school of Greek medicine in Alexandria.
The ancient Greeks initially regarded illness as a divine punishment and healing as, quite literally, a gift from the gods. However, by the 5th century BCE, there were attempts to identify the material causes for illnesses rather than spiritual ones and this led to a move away from superstition towards scientific enquiry, although, in reality, the two would never be wholly separated. Greek medical practitioners, then, began to take a greater interest in the body itself and to explore the connection between cause and effect, the relation of symptoms to the illness itself and the success or failure of various treatments. Greek medical practice may have included errors, perhaps many and probably even fatal ones, but Greek practitioners had started the medical profession in the right direction. Observation, experience and experimentation meant that those who followed in Hellenistic and Roman times such as Galen and Celsus could continue their enquiries along the long road towards greater and more accurate scientific knowledge of the human body, the illnesses it is susceptible to, and the potential cures available.
We here at www.felixrarebooks.com have a few early Medical and Herbal Books, from the 17th. century to the 19th. century.