The history of the use and study of medicinal plants
Many plants, now included in the Pharmacopoeia of different countries and used in folk medicine have come from the practice of ancient peoples. For example, North American Indians from time immemorial knew about the healing properties of Goldenseal canadian and senegi. In China for 3000 years before our era, were familiar with the medicinal properties of rhubarb. LPV. ephedra. In Egypt, approximately in the same period was used for medicinal purposes, castor, opium poppy, Datura, mustard, sea onion and other herbs.
In the bazaars of China and other Oriental countries at the present time, there are the Apothecary’s shop, where you can meet representatives of numerous herbs of the ancient Arabic, Indian and Tibetan medicine, as well as with the compounding of medicines.
The history of these plants dates back to ancient Arabic, Indian, Chinese and Tibetan “herbalists”, which are the prototypes of the modern state Pharmacopoeia. These herbalists indicate the use of a very large variety of plants, which, by the calculation of some authors, reaches 12 000.
This wide range of medicinal herbs due to, primarily, the conditions in which nahodyaschehosya medicine, and that the appeal to nature in search of money from all sorts of illnesses was carried out by individual tribes and clans, who idolized nature and considered that all grass needs to contain any therapeutic substances.
Only much later, with the accumulation of experience and learning herbs with respect to their medical usefulness, the nomenclature of the species used is gradually narrowed. Stop mainly on a relatively small number of plants.
For centuries have been accumulating experience in the use of medicinal properties of plants led to the creation of “folk medicine”. However, the ability and the right to use medicinal plants has acquired a closed, caste-based nature, and are almost exclusive privilege of the priestly class.
This was the cause of very slow development of genuine knowledge of the therapeutic properties of herbs and the inevitable lag in this important area, which has always been part of human disease.
Gradually, though extremely slow, primitive methods of treatment played out. Individual prominent philosophers, doctors and botanists began to generalize people’s experiences, to create systems and to relate them in his writings. This has contributed to the development of medicine and, in particular, spiders on medicinal plants.
The first detailed writing about the medicinal herbs, extant, belongs to the largest physician and philosopher of ancient Greece, one of the founders of scientific medicine, Hippocrates, who lived in 460-377 BC. Hippocrates tried to gather and lead the scattered information and observations about medicinal plants in a certain system and described the 236 plants that have been used in medicine at that time. A major merit of Hippocrates is his desire to liberate medicine from the ballast superstitions. However, the status of natural Sciences of that time did not allow Hippocrates enough to make the right conclusions. Hippocrates believed that all parts of medicinal plants are equally useful and therefore the grass is applied to them entirely.
Only 600 years later the Roman physician and philosopher Galen made the biggest step forward in the field of knowledge of the processes occurring in a living organism, and human ideas about the role and importance of medicinal herbs. Galen has strongly opposed the views of Hippocrates and his followers, who claimed that medicinal plant should be used in its entirety. Galen argued that each medicinal plant that brings cure to the patient due to the fact that concrete contains a useful active ingredient.
Following this theory, Galen first to use in practice and systematized the diverse methods of processing medicinal herbs. Galen taught his contemporaries to extract medicinal herbs contained in nutrients. He raised to an unprecedented height it equipment pharmaceutical business and introduced many new dosage forms: infusions, decoctions, solutions, tinctures, charges, pellets, pills, juices of plants, etc.
After Galen especially seriously studied the medicinal plants of the Arabs. They first entered the test of the action of herbs on animals. The Arabs initiated the science of poisons and antidotes. In XVI century the Arabs were 1,400 kinds of herbal medicines.
In the sixteenth century doctor Paracelsus brought about radical transformation in medical science. He introduced into medicine chemistry and engaged in chemical study of medicinal plants. Developing the ideas of Galen, Paracelsus pointed out that each plant has only a certain substance. He considered irrational and even harmful to use herbs as a whole, calling it “soup seasoning”. Unlike Galen, he sought to justify his principles of chemical analyses. Paracelsus tried to extract from herbs main active substances in their purest form. However, neither Paracelsus nor his closest followers to achieve it fully failed. It was hampered by the low level chemistry and other natural Sciences of the time.
Despite this, the value of paracelsists was very large. They sought to think critically about medicines produced by them from various raw materials and, in particular, of the herbs. They persistently studied their composition and thus marked the beginning of chemical analysis of medicinal plants.
The idea of paracelsists trying to extract from plants main medicinal substance in pure form, has been made for over three centuries.