One day I went to a new dentist to get bleach trays. He suggest I go see a jaw surgeon specialist, so I did. The overall process is intense but totally worth it in the end. So no cigar there. Nothing took the jaw pain away. He said I was a candidate for jaw corrective surgery. Instead of sweep it under the rug, I decided to face it head on. Side: at this point my grinding was SO bad, Michael would have to wake me up for me to stop.
And if I drank a glass of wine or two? My anxiety was worse too. Hold it for a minute. My jaw was clenched, every minute of every day, even when I was sleeping. The anxiety coming from clenching my jaw was ridiculous. The morning fatigue was getting old too.
My amazing dentist shoutout to Dr. This is A LOT. Instead of my teeth fitting together, they went on top of each other. What a f-ing mess. The surgery itself required a lot of prep work. Scared not for surgery but scared because I hate IV needles hahaha, what a weirdo. The surgery took 7 hours. Fun times, fun times. Veryyyy uncomfortable. The whole week was just annoying. My mouth only opens a tiny bit. It was so, so damn good. My posture feels straighter too. My anxiety has dissipated. Some still lingers but the anxiousness I carried in my neck has gone away.
Jaw corrective surgery is my worst nightmare, as I have a jaw disorder that causes clicking, locking, pain, and clenching. Kind of similar to what you had, I guess. Can you do a blog post on your boob job. I would love to hear your experience, i have been thinking about getting it done for a few years.
I have been considering it for years. Living in the San Diego area, I would love to know if you have any recommendations re. I would love a post on the boob job as well! I would love to hear about your experience! Please do! Thank you!! Have you done a post on your breast augmentation yet Lauryn? I hope you recover quickly and post some after pics. This was seriously interesting to me! Back when I had braces, my ortho talked about me being a candidate for jaw surgery, but I had some serious hardware that corrected my overbite enough for him to take that off the table.
Knock on wood.. I hope you begin to feel better soon! Mali recently posted.. Staying Afloat. Aw Lauryn, I hope everything goes well!! I love reading your posts — long or short, sleep-buns or not haha. Stay amazing! Hi Lauryn, Thanks so much for doing a post on this. I went through this surgery during the second semester of my senior year. My case was much worse my lower jaw was moved an inch forward!!! I am a dental hygienist so I understand what you are going through, soooo proud of you! Do anything you can and feel like doing to pamper yourself you deserve it!
If I can be of any assistance email me, okay??? Hey lauryn, I hope you recover soon. Can i just give you this tip? Go see an osteopath. He or she can help the body adjust to the new situation after surgery. Because your spine will have to adjust and it will probably give you neck or backpain, hopefully not.
Get Well soon! Sending you lots of good vibes! Wow ,thank you for the post! My ortho told me my case is the worst ever , this one was my 3rd opinion and all said the same, so bad even to get me ready for surgery its been a nightmare , moving my teeth etc. I had a recessed jaw which caused me to feel so insecure and I had all these awful things like headaches and snoring. I feel so much better about my profile now and it was so worth it! I understand how emotionally draining jaw surgery can be but I promise you will get through it!
Good luck! I had jaw surgery for my underbite after years of having a misaligned jaw my first orthodontist tried to force my lower jaw back into a normal bite, that a-hole. The discomfort and hangry-ness! I experienced with that first month of liquid-only diet was on another level. But I totally agree with you and your doctors—so worth it. Wishing you a speedy recovery! I promise. Lauryn- love you girl! I am at home with shingles right now wtf?!?! Hang in there and heal fast! You are such an inspiration and I love and laugh at everything you post.
Thanks for always sharing. Yesterday was the four year anniversary of my jaw surgery — so I completely empathise with you! I had the same op when I was 15 and although the recovery felt like hell, it was totally outweighed by the benefits. Wishing you a speedy recovery, rest easy! And I love that way of seeing things. Some are good, some are not so good. Unfortunately we tend to remember the not so good ones. Thank you Lauryn. The only surgery I ever had were my wisdom teeth and this was a tough experience for me, even though I was fine after about a week, so I can only imagine how you feel at the moment.
Wow, I hope that recovery gets better! This was interesting to me because I just recently started having jaw popping issues. But it sucks! I definitely think stress and jaw clenching have something to do with it though because I notice myself doing that a lot. Anyway I should probably get in to see a dentist soon! Thanks for sharing this!!! Glad you have people to take care of you through this hard time, hope your jaw is well soon! Amanda Waltman recently posted..
It has gotten worse as I have gotten older, and the clicking is really bad if I eat anything hard like an apple! Thanks for sharing this story, it makes us aware of how serious this can be. I hope you make a speedy recovery. I would love to know who your healing goes too. Have a great day! Skinny Old-fashioned Cream Soda Float. Thank you so much for sharing this post, it really shows how we all have our own struggles and that in reality no one is perfect. I really hope your recovery will get easier and easier each day and wish you all the best x. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
Sending you a virtual hug from CO, get well soon! I love to know the real stories of peoples lives. I would have never known that was ever an issue for you because you have such a beautiful smile! But that sounds so painful, I cant believe you lived with it for so long. This kind of gives me the push to get it checked out. The best day of Teds life. More rest and peace which is how we were made to live. Anxiety and exhaustion are for the birds and life sucking not life giving. OMG Lauryn that is terrible!!
Sorry you are going through this. Wish you a very speedy recovery. Take care of yourself Xoxox. I am so sorry you are having to go through this, Lauryn! My brother had the exact same surgery last August and it was sooooo rough! All blended meals… looked like he got in a bar fight… braces… none of it was fun, but all of it was worth it in the long!
Hang in there! My bf had jaw surgery years ago and had to have his jaw wired shut for 2 months! He said it was miserable! Hope you start feeling better soon and I def give you major props for still being on your blogging game! Xo Ashlee recently posted.. I hope you feel better soon! My fiance broke his jaw and had it wired shut for about 1 month.
He said it was the most painful thing ever. He survived off of naked drinks, protein shakes and blended mac and cheese haha. Just say yes: June Birchbox. AHH this sounds so horrific but I am so so happy to hear you are doing better and recovery is going well!! Thank you for this post, Lauryn! My mom recently we think , ruptured a disc in her neck. I am definitely going to share this post with her! Thanks for sharing!!! I loved the realness of this post..
Virginia recently posted.. Cute Blazer Alert!! I had jaw surgery in 10th grade and its not fun! I have also struggled with teeth grinding and jaw clicking. Its crazy to hear your story and realize that I have the same problem. Get better soon! On a side note, I would love to read your story on getting a boob-job. WOW — what an ordeal. You are a trooper.
Thanks for sharing Lauryn. I also would love to hear about your boob job experience!! Thinking about this for myself and would love experienced advice! Jaw surgery sounds like hell!!!! Not a boring post at all! I kinda get how this could further your anxiety. I love how real you are.
Keep your chin up! Hearing your experience is moving, I would love to hear more about your other past surgeries. Feel better! Wishing you speedy recovery! And yes, please do a boob job post! I wanted to wish you a speedy recovery!! And thanks for sharing this and keeping it real!! Much respect, well wishes, and hugs — Gina. Lauryn, I wish you all the best in your recovery girl! I have been told I need the same surgery and I was scared AF so reading this has made me more comfortable with it while also scaring the shit out of me if that makes sense? PS about those teeny little clear braces you got — I want to ask my dentist about them!
Do you know if they have a proper name? Enjoy your juice, cuddles with your fur babies, and lots of deserved pampering xox. This post could not have been more helpful. The pain and anxiety is getting more overwhelming, though, the older that I get. Your post made me feel a little bit better about having the surgery. I do have a question. How much did it change the shape of your face and the way you look? You may not even know the answer to this yet since you are still swollen.
Thank you so much for sharing the parts of your life that are not always rainbows and butterflies. Chelsea Thomas recently posted.. Sending lots of good vibes your way, Lauryn! You are such an inspiration. Thank you for being so raw and vulnerable for your readers. Your mindset and attitude about it are beautiful and will help with your recovery too! Thanks so much for sharing this! I would LOVE to read a post on your boob job experience. Leah recently posted.. You poor thing! Feel better, Lauryn. Ashley A Lady Goes West recently posted.. How to have the perfect date-night at home.
Damnnnnnn you are a strong girl. We believe in you! Cassie Tran recently posted.. That surgery sounds intense! Thanks for being so open and sharing with us. I had this exact surgery almost at Best thing ever! Wow what a story- good your you for taking the plunge and having it corrected though! Thanks for sharing girl and wishing you a restful and quick recovery! You go, girl! This was before clear braces, so it was brutal. I had bone reconstruction done on my foot when I was 20 and had to spend 4 months on crutches which included my 21st birthday whoo hoo.
In the end, it was totally worth it! Much needed! I would love to hear about your boob job experience. I had mine done at the end of May, and I still have so many questions!!! Glad to hear you are doing well. Your positive attitude is such a great attribute!! I love your spirit. Lauren THIS is why you blog and are good at it.. You are so relatable and I am sure so many others will benefit from this post.
Your surgery sounds awful breaking your jaw bone :o??? Also, I am wishing you all the best and hoping you get better soon and get those sexy braces off of you! Sure you still look beautiful, but I do hope that all the pain will soon subside. I hope you feel better ASAP! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I really appreciate your willingness to share the good and the bad, and I know myself and a lot of others appreciate the realness of your blog.
Feel better soon! PS… I would love to read a post on your boob job. Get well soon! The Tale of a Town— San Francisco. Ahh I feel so bad for you! So cool to see someone post on this. I had the exact same problems and the exact same surgery.
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It will be one year next week! Crazy how fast it went by. The not being able to eat real food situation was brutal and post-surgery I felt like I looked like fat Ryan Reynolds from Just Friends…cute. My life is 1,, times better, and I feel like a new person.
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Cheers to the go go go young girls willing to slap some metal shit on their teeth to live the best life they can live! Hope you feel better soon! Loved this post Lauryn! I have been grinding so bad that I have actually chipped my molars…. Hi lauryn! I just want to thank you sooooo very much for posting this! Thank you so much for being so candid, I really love and appreciate you sharing your story! Sending you good vibes during your recovery! Hope you feel better soon. I had jaw surgery about 5 years ago for an underbite and my mid line was off. I went through depression about two weeks after, but I got on the treadmill and just walked.
Unfortunately my numbness did not heal. I have no feeling in my chin. Not totally sure it was worth it. I would also like to hear about your boob surgery. I plan on getting mine done before next summer and would love to here all about your experience. Hi Lauryn! I love your blog! I was in your exact situation almost 4 months ago. I had corrective jaw surgery on March 4, …Holyyyyyyy.
It was terrible times. I still have metal braces, numbness, and very slight discomfort. But my smile is legit! So much better and so so worth it. You can do this!!! Just have patience and let your body heal. Eat what you can and know that soon you will be chewing again and eating will feel amazing! I suggest getting lots of pineapple to juice great for healing in addition to tumeric and Joint Juice or something comparable I swear the Joint Juice is like heaven sent.
I also did as much hot Pilates and stretching as I could handle and It made a huge difference in the swelling. I looked like the Nutty Professor. My surgeon said no heat but my boyfriend got me a heating pad and I slept with it every night in addition to my hot workouts and the swelling and discomfort was much more manageable than with ice! Try heat! And my favorite thing to eat was pie smooshed up with ice cream! I got a tiny little kid Dora the Explora tooth brush but was afraid to open my mouth it hurt a lot to brush my tongue and this resulted in and I am not joking something known as Hairy Tongue google it.
Avoid this at all cost and shove that toothbrush in there and get your tongue realllllly good! So gross. You will be well soon! Heat sounds interesting!! Will you e-mail me the kind of heating pad you used? Also, I just bought a tongue cleaner for me and Michael because of you. Looking in to Joint Juice and drinking pineapple juice with turmeric tomorrow morning thanks to you. Sending hugs and good juju! What an experience!
Stay strong, positive, and remember this whole ordeal will all be worth it in the end. Sending you good vibes for your wisdom teeth surgery. Sending love and positive thoughts your way! When I went through surgery I ate tons of goat milk yogurt and whole foods chili when I craved protein. Seriously saviors. Thanks Molly.
And boob job story is in the works. Oh wow, that sounds really intense! I hope you recover quickly. I can relate — I had gum grafting done last month and it felt like I had been hit in the face with a brick for 3 weeks. But, the end result was worth it and it sounds like it will be for you too!! Lisa TechChick Adventures recently posted..
Mohican Mile Trail Race… as seen by the crew. I seriously feel for you like super hard right now. I developed a case of the TMJ waaaaaaaaay back in the fourth grade. I woke up one night, my job popped, and it got locked for a few minutes before I finally unlocked it…and it was hell from thereafter. Welcome to the metal face club! I got so frustrated and like you was so over liquids asap. I ended up eating a ton of scrambled egg whites and I really recommend that! Happy Thoughts from Texas! So right. I am like a little kid who throws fits. Thanks for the tips babe. I had jaw surgery in high school!
Terrible underbite! It was at the time the movie The Nutty Professor came out, and I looked just like him! So swollen and black and blue from my jaw thru my chest! Best and worst thing to experience! I know you are in pain now, but this is totally worth it. I had double jaw surgery at The had to break my top jaw and move my bottom jaw out to line up with my top teeth. I also had to have a piece of bone inserted where my chin should have been I had the skin, but no bone there , so I also have wires and screws all over my jaw.
I had problems very similar to yours, but I think the procedure must be better now than it was 30 years ago. I had to wear braces for 2 years before and a year after, and they used metal wires to hold my braces together for the first 6 weeks after surgery. You will be amazed at what you are willing to put in the blender when you get hungry enough. I was exhausted and very cranky the first month or so after the surgery, but this is hands down the best thing I have ever done for myself.
Listen to your body and take it easy while you heal. My prayers will be with you as you recover. Sending you healing thoughts for a successful recovery! He feels much better now but does have small area on his chin that lost feeling. Jay Robb vanilla egg white protein powder is amazing in smoothies with greens and will help you get extra protein! I have read your blog since high school now I have always found it a go to for advice but have never actually left a comment. I appreciate the life is not always perfect post so much.
So so glad to hear the real side of things. This is one of my things. I may also be heading down that road eventually as well, as I also have severe TMJ and neck problems. Sending you get-well wishes!! I hope this finally gives you the relief you deserve! PS — I totally also had a boob job and would love to hear your take on it! Your husband will be FINE!!! E-mail me if you have questions. I loved my surgeon. Also, a boob job post is definitely in the works for you guys. Surgery is scary!
A friend of mine had it and she seemed to heal in no time!
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She drank a LOT of smoothies too, and jello, at one point her mom made cooked dinner like turkey, gravy, veggies, etc, big old fashioned fam dinner kind of thing, we call it cooked dinner here and blended it up into a smoothie so she could have some! Not sure how appetizing it was. But she did it! You so what you gotta do! Holy Sh! Bravo to being brave and timing finally being right so you could focus on taking care of YOU!
Dinner at trilogy with Jamison and I once you are fully recovered. I need to same surgery! I was going to go thru with it a few years ago and even had the braces for 6 months, but I got freaked out as the surgery drew closer and was worried that it would mess up the way I look already plus having adult braces sucked! How did you know your doctor knew was he was doing and was good? I definitely recommend doing a lot of research : x. I researched and met with him and we just clicked! LMK if you have questions. Just e-mail me : x. Thank you for being so candid. Sending recovery vibes your way!
Kombucha 4th of Jelly Shots. Thanks for sharing this! Good luck, Nicole! Sending you lots of love! I had chin surgery two years ago and I lost so much weight like 10 lbs. I also spent a lot of time with friends and family who could stand staring at my botched face and doing crafts at home to kill the time! Lots of love and feel better soon xo C Courtney Bentley recently posted.. That sounds intense. You sound just like me :. I am trying to just lay low. I have TMJ too! Just talking about it my jaw clenches up and tightens.
And I clench when I dance, which is all the time. Good to know that it was worth it for you to have surgery. Warm the towels up in the microwave then put the towels on your jaw or face use your jaw bra to secure it if they gave you one if not you can use bandages to secure the towels and heating pad. Put the heating pad over the towels and keep the heat on whatever setting feels good for you probably not too crazy hot at first. This was the only way I got some sleep the heat at night worked better for me instead of ice.
Totally up to you but this really helped me when I thought I would never sleep well again. I sleep totally fine now but the first couple months were hard.
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And I forgot in my last post to mention the skin issues! I also had awful breakouts starting like literally the minute I woke up from the surgery. My skin was so stretched out from the swelling and whatever the hell the do to you during the surgery. It was dry and nasty. Really helped out my skin. Sorry for the crazy long post but I know exactly how you are feeling! I hope you find some relief!
Three years ago, well seven yearsxago inimbarked on a similar journey. This story was my first lesson on why so few pharma- ceutical drugs — prescription medicines approved by gov- ernment regulators — have come from plants. No pharmaceutical company is likely to invest research monies in a plant it may not be able to obtain and whose chemical content may not be medically effective. Madagascar, how- ever, awakened me to a much broader perspective — one that takes better advantage of all that plants have to offer.
My awakening began as I sat on the dirt floor in the thatch-roofed home of an elderly woman who was the healer in a remote village. On straw mats surrounding her were sticks, leaves, grasses, bark, wood chips, oils, seeds, and nuts. As I watched the healer use plants to treat everything from colds to cancerous tumors, I began to realize that my focus on government-approved pharmaceutical drugs was far too narrow. For years, my wife, Marjorie Share, and others had been telling me how Western medicine — which only uses drugs with one active ingredient — had forgotten and overlooked powerful plant chemicals that affect a huge range ol human ailments.
Some of these chemicals, they claimed, even stim- ulate the human immune system, something modern medi- cine has not yet managed to accomplish. These people seemed to work hard to find accurate and useful informa- tion, reading books, seeking studies, and telling each other about physicians and other healers who knew about herbs. I began to wonder: How much of what I had heard back at home and of what I was seeing in this far corner of the world was wishful thinking, and how much had some foundation in fact — whether or not scientifically proven?
Then I experienced what some people call the "Aha! For many, treatment with chloro- quine, the most effective modern antimalarial drug, was useless because the parasite that causes malaria had developed resistance to it. But local traditional healers had identified several plants that allowed the chloroquine to work. The plants somehow seemed to overcome the para- site's ability to keep the medicine from permeating its outer cell wall. How had the traditional healers known the plants would do this? They certainly had not learned it over cen- turies of trial and error, because chloroquine had been on the island for at most a few decades.
Where, furthermore, does such plant power originate, why do plants have it, and why should any plant produce chemicals — whether used as a pharmaceutical drug or a botanical remedy — that cure a human disease? That is why I wrote this book. I hope it provides some answers, raises new questions, and offers a framework for understanding a fast-changing topic that increasingly generates news headlines and sales revenues. Together, Americans and Europeans now spend more than 12 billion dollars annually on botanical reme- dies, a total that rises dramatically each year.
The time to focus on medicinal plants is now. To shape a future that utilizes the full potential of med- icines from plants, we must first understand where we are and how we got here. About to million years ago the first known land plants began to appear in wet mud at the edge of bodies of fresh water.
Once on land, plants enjoyed access to more sunlight, car- bon dioxide, and minerals, which they transformed into stored sugars and oxygen. As millions of years passed, plants grew in size and dif- ferentiated. Their evolution escalated about million years ago, when many began to rely on two types of spores, male and female, for reproduction. The next major step was the appearance of gymnosperms, seed-producing plants such as present-day pine trees.
Further sophistication came with angiosperms, or flowering plants, which enclose their seeds in an ovary, usually encased inside a flower. This development occurred about million years ago, rela- tively recently in evolutionary terms. The appearance of angiosperms seems to have been sudden; they quickly dom- inated other plants and became one of the most widespread life-forms. They called these chemicals secondary metabolites to dis- tinguish them from primary metabolites such as sugars and amino acids that are essential for functions such as absorb- ing water.
But we now know that secondary metabolites perform a huge array of functions. Many chemicals in flowering plants, in fact, became more sophisticated than those of animals, which can rely on sensory organs. Instead of eyes, for example, flowering plants developed proteins in light-sensitive compounds that collect clumps of light energy. Plant roots detect nitrates and ammonium salts in the soil, elements vital to their growth, and move toward them. To help with reproduction, other chemicals attract animals that serve as pollinators. Unable to run away, and laced with microbes, insects, and animals that wanted to eat them, plants also developed an arsenal of bioactive sub- stances — compounds that affect living cells — with which to wage chemical warfare.
This sophisticated arsenal often includes chemical com- munications. Sensing the arrival of a disease-causing virus, some plants release chemicals that begin to protect their leaves and travel through the air to alert nearby plants of the approaching virus. Neighboring plants receive this mes- sage and start to generate their own defensive chemicals. If the caterpillar is a species that is particularly destructive, the plant issues sub- stances that summon a wasp.
The wasp lays eggs in the caterpillar, which kill it when they hatch. This bioactivity makes many plant chemicals harmful to humans. Evidence indicates that early hominids — mam- mals who walked on two legs and had opposable thumbs — appeared about five to six million years ago. Hominids, who ate numerous plants, needed enzymes to counteract plant toxins.
They developed genes that produce such enzymes, which helps explain some of the fundamental genetic variations among humans today. Bioactivity also suggests why a plant like the rosy peri- winkle combats acute lymphocytic leukemia. The periwin- kle produces chemicals to kill its enemies. All forms of hominids probably experimented with plants. Archaeologists have found pollen from at least eight species of flowers in the dirt of a Neandertal burial cave in Iraq that dates back 60, years.
All eight species are still found in Iraq, and seven are traditionally used to treat wounds, dysentery, asthma, inflammation, toothache, and other ailments. The eight Iraqi flowers do not grow together naturally; they had to be collected into a bouquet. Were they left because they were beautiful, or did whoever left them know about the flowers' medicinal value?
Was one of the bodies buried in the cave a healer? By 30, years ago Neandertals and other hominids had given way to Homo sapiens, or modern humans. As hunter- gatherer nomads, humans used plants for food, medicine, clothing, shelter, and weapons. About 11, years ago, during what is called the agricultural revolution, humans began to cultivate certain plants, particularly those that produce grain.
Of all these uses of plants, only the medicinal evoked a deep spiritual response from humans, for whom the medi- cine man was almost always a spiritual leader. Plants, according to ancient beliefs, are the mediators between humans and the Creator, and often can grant eternal life.
In the Epic oj Gilgamesb, a Sumerian prose poem dating from before B. What can I give you so you can return to your land? I will disclose to you a thing that is hidden There is a plant. If your hands reach that plant you will become a young man again. A snake smelled the fragrance of the plant, silently came up and carried off the plant. Chinese myths that date back thousands of years like- wise describe Penglai, Fangzhang, and Yingzhou, islands with palaces of gold and silver, pure white birds and ani- mals, and magic herbs that provide immortality.
More recently, a Han epic from the 4th to 5th centuries A. If this plant is laid upon a man who has been dead for [as much as] three days, he will come to life again at once. If it is eaten, it will give longevity and immortality. Collecting medicinal plants and trying to learn about them are among mankind's oldest professions. Desire for medicinal plants, furthermore, has been fundamental to commercial trade. As soon as peo- ple anywhere established contact with other societies, one of their first activities was to exchange medicinal plants and knowledge about them.
Known written records about medicinal plants date back at least 5, years to the Sumerians, who lived in Mesopotamia; the Babylonians, another Mesopotamian civilization, which dates to the second millennium B. Two other ancient civilizations, in India and China, are still thriving after thousands of years and continue to mystify modern science. They offer lessons that could be invaluable as Westerners try to obtain more pharmaceu- tical drugs from plants and attempt to better understand herbal medicine.
Researchers tested the ancient Chinese practice of burning mugwort on a designated acupuncture point to cause the fetuses to move into a safer headfirst orientation. Most fetuses carried by women who experienced the burning mugwort moved to a headfirst position; not one fetus carried by members of the control group, who received the same treatment with a randomly selected herb, moved.
The pharmacy of a hospital of traditional medicine, one of many in China, stores blossoms, seeds, and bark. Employees combine the ingredients of each tray and boil them to make cough medicine. The girls grow dozens of plants in small kitchen gardens that provide herbal remedies for family use. Such remedies, some of which have surprised modern science with their effectiveness, date back thousands of years.
In these sto- ries knowledge was transferred from a god to a virtuous sage. Often this sage then, himself, became a god, using his medicinal knowledge as a vehicle. Brahma heard the appeals from a group of enlightened sages who were meditating in an effort to find ways to end human suffering and, impressed by their sincerity, revealed the secrets of medicines. According to tradition, these secrets were passed on in the form of hymns, prayers, incantations, chants, and ritual formulas that included information about how to use plants.
Archaeological evidence dates the origin of these Vedic texts to the second millen- nium B. These stories, archaeolo- gists say, remained oral for centuries before being written down in stages beginning around B. The Rig Veda discusses healing in a spiritual context. The father of mankind, named Manu, offers the source of all healing medicines — soma — to the gods. The medicines, described as "so pure, so strengthening, so comforting," include plants. In a scene that captures the heart of the Vedic attitude toward plants, a doctor pre- pares to treat someone who is seriously ill.
After meditating on healing herbs, the doctor blesses them and then blesses the patient. Workers cook ingredients over an open fire, then fashion each tablet by rotating the sticky substance between their palms. Dried in the sun, then packaged, the pills are used as a rejuve- nating potion for a variety of illnesses. Detailed references ro plant-based medicines are nor found in the Vedic texts, hymns, and other ritual texts.
However, writing about specific plant prescriptions dates from at least the seventh century B. The practice seems to have been adopted and compiled by Buddhist monks around the fourth century B. Ayurvedic remedies and recipes are quite specific. The bark from the dita tree, a tall evergreen cultivated throughout India, is used to treat malaria, chronic diarrhea, fevers, and skin diseases.
The fruit of the bael tree relieves diarrhea, dysentery, and intestinal problems; its roots treat melan- cholia and heart palpitations; and its leaves can be used as a poultice to reduce inflam- mation. Two types of pigweed — red-flowered and white-flowered — are used to treat anemia, heart disease, cough, intestinal colic, and snakebite. Red-flowered pigweed also treats insomnia, rheumatism, and chronic alcoholism. The first known Sanskrit medical treatises with detailed analyses of treatment date approximately from between B. The Caraka Samhita describes uses for medicinal plants, and the Sushrata Samhita shows how to use These plants form the core of Ayurvedic medicine, Continued on page 20 15 16 Swami Brahmananda, a Siddha healer in Bangalore, India, tests a combina- tion of minerals and herbs that have been mixed together and heated.
Sid- dha, an ancient medical system of the Tamil culture in southern India, uses herbs to reduce the toxic effect of metals such as iron and gold in reme- dies. Preparing a Siddha remedy can take up to 30 days, following rules written centuries ago on the pages of a book made of palm leaves. In Siddha belief, as in northern India's Ayurvedic medicine, healers are holy men. For 30 years Muzzamur Rahman of Lucknow, India, has prepared medicines according to the centuries-old traditions he learned from his father in this same shop.
Rahman combines a variety of plant and animal parts, as well as minerals, in each formula. Elements of the plants may chemically interact with components of the venom and may trigger responses such as increased blood pressure or muscle contractions that could help a person survive a snakebite. In such poor rural areas cost or distance from a medical facility often precludes the use of a modern antivenom. Like all healers, this one accepts occasional gifts, usually food, but receives no cash payment for his services.
Mulberry leaves and silkworms, his main source of income, line panels behind him. Extensive and complex procedures are used to elicit nontoxic and therapeutic material from these substances. Influenced bp Arab medicine — which, for example, introduced opium to India as a treatment for dysentery — the golden age of Ayurvedic medicine continued until approximately A. During that time Indian scientists accurately described the circulation of blood in the human body.
Surgeons removed tumors and performed cesarean sections and plastic surgery, practices not common in Europe until the advent of what we now call the scientific revolution in the 16th to 18th centuries. Indian scientists realized that microbes exist and that they can be found in the human body, but did not associate them with disease. Instead, their approach was essentially preventive, stressing that the key to health is to live in balance with all of nature.
To achieve this balance, Ayurveda — which is still widely practiced in India and worldwide — says that the body cannot be healed without healing the mind and spirit. Ayurveda emphasizes that medicine must focus on the whole person, and not simply on symptoms. Humans, Ayurveda asserts, have one of three body types, and associated with each type are some of the five elements earth, fire, water, air, and space that make up the universe.
These body types are vata wind — air and space ; pitta fire and water ; and kapha earth and water. No matter what its type, according to Ayurveda, each body has 13 srotas, or channels through which substances circulate. The channels can be large, like intestines and arteries, or small, like capillaries. If the srotas are open and free-flowing, the person is healthy, while blockage — usually by improperly digested food and liq- uids — often produces disease.
Diagnosis, usually accomplished by interviewing patients and taking their pulses, consists of determining the nature of any imbalance among the five basic elements. After making a diagnosis, an Ayurvedic physician will probably recommend appro- priate changes in sleep and eating habits. Medicines, most consisting of a dozen or more plants and other substances, are suggested. These prescriptions and their dosages can vary among patients with the same symptoms. Unlike Western medicine, Ayurvedic often has no standard treatments. As in ancient times, prescriptions are prepared in a wide variety of ways.
The plant parts might be boiled together and given as a decoction, the material that remains after much of the water has boiled away. The ingredients might be infused, steeped in water to get soluble properties without bringing about the chemical changes that could come 20 At the Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Astrology Institute in Dharmala, India, pills rest on an ancient Tibetan medical text.
Pharmacists wrap each pill in the color of silk that indicates its healing properties: Red works on the heart, and blue affects the mind. Employees who make the medicine pray as they labor, believing that their devotions and positive spiritual intentions make the medicine more pure, and perhaps more powerful.
The plant parts might be allowed to ferment. They might be given when freshly picked or after aging. The patient might take them as a warm tea, a cold drink, a liquid extract, and more commonly as ground herbs in a pill or as a powder. Muslims imposed their beliefs and practices on parts of India they conquered in the 11th and 12th centuries, and Great Britain ruled the subcontinent as a colony from the midT7th to the mid'20th centuries.
The British prohibited funding of Ayurvedic colleges and clinics, outlawed the publishing or sale of Ayurvedic textbooks, and depicted the belief in, or practice of, Ayurveda as a sign of barbarism. Local Indian officials fought back as best they could. In , for example, the gov- ernment of Madras on the Bay of Bengal, and home of the influential British East India Company issued a report on Ayurvedic medicine that concluded, in part, "No Western scientist should think of criticizing Ayurveda until he has learnt the Sanskrit language and studied the subject for some years under a competent Acharya [a Hindu teacher who provides instruction in the Vedic texts].
The British Medical Journal mocked the Madras report and Ayurvedic medicine for relying on Continued on page 28 21 22 His father and brother divert the attention of seven-year-old Surendra Sindhe left as he undergoes traction at an orthopedic hospital in Coimbatore, India. He has cerebral palsy. Ayurvedic doc- tors prescribed herbal oil massages to soften his bones and hope that traction can straighten his curved legs.
Modern science has yet to test such treatments even as practitioners and patients testify to amazing results. One growing impediment is that local healers fear that researchers may steal their knowledge. A patient in a mental facility in Kerala State above undergoes an Ayurvedic treatment called tha- lapotichil. Doctors place a poultice of herbs on his head and cover it with a banana leaf to seal in moisture. Such transdermal — through the skin — delivery of medicines is becoming more common in the West.
Badly jaundiced and bleeding since the birth of a child two months before, she was too weak to travel to the nearest hospital. A healer palpates the stomach of a woman with recurring abdominal pain right who has come to his office on the western Tibetan Plateau. Traditional herbal medicines and Western drugs sent to the outpost by the Chinese government litter the floor, but they are often outdated, and patients frequently must resort to home remedies.
Even after India achieved independence in , many of its leaders, institutions, and people wanted to become modern and sophisticated, which meant rejecting the Ayurvedic tra- dition. These traditions lack the sys- tematic beliefs that underlie Ayurveda and are mostly oral. Their practitioners have no written texts of their own, but they often use the Caraka and Sushrata Samhitas. The traveler in contemporary India will often encounter Indian folk medicine in the form of stories like the following: A Western-trained university professor in Cal- cutta, a physiologist who publishes in European and American scientific journals, is approached by one of his students.
The student says, "I live in a rural village, and in my village is a healer who picks plants that counteract the poison if you are bitten by a cobra. The healer says he got the recipe for the plants from his father, who got it from his father. This antidote to snakebite, made from antibodies in horses that have been injected with venom, is expensive and may require refrigeration.
The villagers do not have money to pay for such medicines. They are expensive, and they are in short supply. The physiologist goes out into the countryside with the student and meets the healer. Unsophisticated on issues such as ownership and profit, the healer provides a plant that the doctor takes back to his laboratory. There he prepares cobra and viper venom to give to his laboratory rats.
He injects the rats with a lethal dose 50 — the 28 dosage at which 50 percent of the animals will die — and yes, 50 percent of them die. Next, he administers the same dosage to a new group of rats, along with an extract of the plant provided by the healer. None of the animals die. The physiologist returns to the healer, who has grown suspicious.
What if this stranger makes his anti-poison potions, the secret to much of his success, public. His livelihood could disappear. The physiologist is not worried. He has asked a colleague, a botanist, to examine the first specimen provided by the rural healer. He knows just which plant to pick. He does so, and again tries his lethal dose experiment. This time, however, even with the plant antidote, all the laboratory rats die. In the morning or night can make a difference.
Is the plant old or young? What is growing nearby? The modern world has little knowl- edge of or interest in these stories. But researchers in India, using modern, scientific techniques and standards, are examining some traditional Continued on page 36 Eyeing the roots of a plant, Greg Pennyroyal of Leiner Health Products, a manufacturer of herbal preparations, joins Chinese colleagues in northeastern China to examine ginseng for possible export to the United States.
Taking herbs to maintain health, basic to traditional Chinese medicine, is a concept new to many Westerners. Beyond a farmer carrying corn from his fields, herbs line the hillside. At a processing plant, workers sort recently harvested ginseng. They will wash and scrape the root, then allow it to dry natu- rally. Chinese, as well as other people around the world, use ginseng as a tonic to restore energy. Studies show that it can stimulate the immune system, increase alertness, and help people deal with stress. Traditional Chinese especially cherish ginseng as a remedy because of its resemblance to the human form.
Healers use the powder to treat gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. Virtually any herbal, mineral, or animal material used in traditional Chinese medicine can be found in Anguo. Workers at the academy search for more modern delivery systems for traditional remedies. Despite their strong herbal tradition, the Chinese people are becoming too impatient to brew medicines the old-fashioned way. Although the ongoing research of Ayurvedic medicine is often limited by lack of money, indications are that plants used in India offer potent weapons against cancer, diabetes, and other major diseases.
In one study the addition of peppers, including Piper longum — an herb known in Ayurveda to increase the agni, or metabolic fire — triples the effectiveness of the antibiotic rifampin, which is used to treat tuberculosis. According to this oral tradition, three emperors who reigned from the 29th to the 27th centuries B. In chronological order they were Fu Hsi, author of the yin-yang doctrine; Shen Nung, the first herbalist; and Huang Ti, who wrote the earliest known book on Chinese medicine.
These emperors taught that all creation, including humanity, is a marriage of two polar elements, the yin and the yang. Within the human body, this marriage applies to various attributes such as cold and hot, wet and dry, and body and mind. To remain healthy is to keep these attributes in harmony. The teachings posit that the body con- sists of qi or chi energy — the animating force that moves along pathways called meridi- ans ; moisture liquid that protects and nurtures tissue ; and blood which leads to muscles and organs.
The teachings conclude that the body, like all of nature, consists of five elements: water, fire, earth, metal, and wood. Each is associated with an organ sys- 36 In a medicine shop that dates from , one of the oldest in the northeastern Chinese city of Ningbo, a worker grinds seeds. Traditionally, if a remedy is for external use, the preparer grinds with his feet; if for internal consumption, he works the wheel with his hands. The emphasis of Chinese medicine is on prevention.
Legend says that Shen Nung, the father of Chinese medicinal plants, gathered, tasted, and classified all the herbs himself. He then provided details on preparation and dosage. Most likely, the knowledge of herbs and the details on how best to use them came from hundreds, even thousands, of years of trial and error. The Chinese method of delivering some drugs by soaking a cloth in herbs and resting it on the skin is an exam- ple of how useful insights evolved.
This transdermal delivery, which allows drugs to reach the bloodstream without first going through the digestive system, is becoming more common in modern medicine. The plants will be used in a longevity tonic. Like most herbs, these are classified and ranked according to size and color. It will be exported to the United States.
Magnolia moderates the effects of the potent bioactivity in other plants and acts as a catalyst. Following pages: In Beijing's Xi Yuan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital a special program for diabetics combines herbal medi- cine, massage, and a blend of meditation and exercise called Qi Gong. The program, which encourages the mind and the body to work as one and makes the diabetic patients active participants in controlling their own health, has helped lessen their need for insulin and other drugs.
Chinese pharmacopoeias, books that list medicinal preparations, first appeared during the western Han Empire B. Although the authors of these pharmacopoeias are not known, these books appeared at around the same time that China developed a uniform written language. Perhaps bp coincidence, this was also when Ayurvedic texts were first written in Sanskrit.
The relationship between Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine remains a mystery. Contact between the two cultures might have come from the spread of Buddhism or from trade. Travel between China and India via water or land certainly dates back far into antiquity. The extent of cross-pollination between the two medical approaches is unclear, but anything purely Indian or Chinese probably existed only temporarily. While scholars argue about how much the two systems learned from each other and which is older, evi- dence of shared knowledge is strong. At least as early as the first millennium B.
Herbs from Java and the west coast of Africa also made their way to China, and medicinal herbs were prominent in diplomatic exchanges. In , for example, the ambassador from Rum, part of the Byzantine Empire in present-day Turkey, gave the emperor of China a pill that had, according to one source, as many as ingredients. Chaulmoogra, whose fruit is large and round, with many seeds embedded in the pulp, probably arrived in China around the 14th century. It was prepared according to a complex formula. No one knows if this formula arrived from Thailand along with the plant.
One traditional method of preparing oil from chaulmoogra is to remove the husks from 3. Seal it tightly in an earthenware jar and put the jar in boiling water, making sure that no steam escapes. Boil until a black and tarlike oil emerges. Mix one ounce of the oil and three ounces of the root and seed of the Sophora jlavescens shrub into a paste. Combine the paste with wine and roll into pills the size of a seed from the sterculia plant. Swallow 50 of these pills with hot wine before each meal. How did such detailed instructions evolve? Which were important and which were 42 medically unnecessary rituals passed from generation to generation?
What, for example, would happen to the chemical composition of the final pill if steam had been allowed to escape during boiling? Much of the formula does have a sound basis. Adding an extract of the root of the perennial shrub Sophora flavescens fights nausea, a strong side effect of taking chaulmoogra oil.
The Sophora flavescens may have come to China from India, highlighting the international nature of this cure. Among the events that stimulated interest in such voyages was the publication of a book, Huiyaofang — Pharmaceutical Prescriptions of the Muslims. In a prince named Zhi Di seized power from his father and ordered construction of an oceangoing fleet. Workers soon built or refitted for ocean travel more than 1, vessels. Many of these ships, called bao chuan treasure boats , were feet long and feet wide, more than four times larger than the vessels used by Columbus later in the century.
Among other innovations, the Chinese ships had watertight bulwark compart- ments, similar in construction to the segments of a bamboo stalk. The largest ships had nine masts and luxury cabins complete with balconies. Each ship had its own medicinal herb garden, and crew members included doctors and herbalists to collect plants in for- eign countries. A fleet consisting of hundreds of ships completed seven voyages between and These expeditions visited nearly 30 lands, ranging from islands near the north coast of Australia to the east coast of Africa. Commanding this fleet was Zheng He, a court eunuch who was a Mongol and a Muslim.
Medicinal plants, spices, and herbs, many worth their weight in silver or gold, were among the most important items of trade. It was in the town of Dhufar, which the Chinese called Tsu-Fa-Erh, on the south coast of ArabiaCWhen the treasure-ships of the Central Country [China] arrived there, after the reading of the imperial will and the conferment of presents was finished, the king sent chiefs everywhere to issue instructions to the 43 In the pharmacy of the Xi Yuan hospital in Beijing, a worker measures one of many ingredients that go into a single remedy right.
Each drawer behind her contains a type of seed, root, twig, or other part of various plants. One prescription above contains Chinese mother- wort, apricot kernels, cassia twigs, safflower flower, water plantain, and red-rooted sage. Such mixtures, often based on ancient formulas, contain uncounted numbers of chemicals that act upon the human body. Modern medicine has yet to develop methods to test the mecha- nisms of a remedy with so many different ingredients. Some studies do show that complicated Chinese herbal remedies provide risk-free health benefits. To get there, Zheng He could have circumnavigated Africa, or sailed east across the Pacific, in which case he would have stumbled upon the Americas.
But the Chinese had no desire to visit Europe. They knew it to be a source of wool and wine and did not particularly want or need to import either. Zheng He pursued stories about rare drugs and powerful medical practices in present-day Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, and Africa. Calicut had been an important free port since the 13th cen- tury. Traders could come at any time and take on fresh water and provisions.
They paid no tax if they had no sales, and a tax of one-fortieth of the amount they did sell — a tax considered very low at the time. Ambassadors from the countries Zheng He visited often returned with him to live in the Ming capital of Nanjing and, later, Beijing. Such herbs, along with books about health, were among top items desired by other countries. But the presence of foreigners raised much larger concerns. One emperor forbade purchase of raw copper, silk, and horses from Mongols to the north, and he ordered that no one repair or construct treasure ships.
Beginning in the government imposed a death sentence on anyone who built a ship with more than two masts. By it was a serious crime to even sail a ship with more than one mast. Although history often moves by chance and whim, it is easy to forget that it could have taken other paths.
What would the contemporary world be like, including our use of medicinal plants, if China had continued its voyages of discovery? Africa and the 46 Western Hemisphere could have been colonized by the Chinese instead of Europeans. Perhaps even more significantly, what we call the scientific revolution could have occurred in China. For centuries before Zheng Hes journeys, China had been using the printing press, glass, paper, gunpowder, and the compass.
The country had the expertise and the accu- mulated capital necessary for an explosion of progress in scientific knowledge and techni- cal capability. No one knows why this did not happen. Among the best guesses: Chinese researchers never developed widespread use of quantification in their approach to exper- iments, or effective ways to share information with each other. The Chinese, further- more, were satisfied with their role as what they called the Middle Kingdom, which they believed to be located in the center of the Earth and the universe.
They had little desire to discover and conquer new worlds. A final impediment to change was Chinese politi- cal unity. Orders came from the emperor, whom the Chinese people believed to be a direct link to heaven. When the emperor said that voyages of discovery would stop, they stopped.
If the Chinese had continued their voyages of discovery, and if more modern sci- ence had emerged in China, our medicinal relationship with plants could have been very different today. Nothing about the nature of plants or the demands of modern science, for example, dictates the present-day emphasis on finding the single active molecule, using only one chemical from a plant. Reliance on the single active molecule began to emerge in the late 19th century, largely as a result of the need to have medicines whose contents could be tested, standardized, and patented.
This has precluded most use of plants, which can contain dozens of bioactive substances see Chapters But approaches other than relying on the single active molecule were possible. Testing, documenting, and refining these remedies could have provided society with medicines at least as safe and pre- dictable as the Western medicines we have today.
Emphasis could have been placed on cultivation techniques, improving standards for quality and measurement, and studying dosage and toxicity. All of this could have been accomplished via low-tech techniques, relying on observation, empirical testing, measurement, and record keeping. China, however, kept turning inward, further refining the complicated and often mysterious medicinal recipes outsiders encounter today.
In Li Shih-chen, the son of a physician and a physician himself, started to compile information on medicine as 47 practiced in China. He finished his work more than a quarter century later. It consists of 52 volumes documenting 1, medicinal substances. Of these about 60 percent come from plants; the others, from minerals and animals. This kinship is crucial to understanding medicinal plants as potential sources of modern pharmaceutical drugs, as well as botanical remedies that are increasingly popular in the West.
Both Chi- nese and Ayurvedic medicine have a strong spiritual component. For outsiders this often raises the question of whether the patient must believe in the plant remedies for them to work. This question is particularly important for Westerners who try to discover if Ayurvedic and Chinese plant remedies offer medicinal benefits.
To be deemed valid — especially to be judged scientifically valid — the Asian treatments must work even if the patient rejects all the spiritual assumptions upon which their formulation has been based. The two systems use one plant to treat many different conditions and different plants for the same condition. They also employ many plants at the same time — utiliz- ing virtually every plant part — and they have complicated ways of preparing them. Each system is split between formal teachings and folk medicine, which often translates into a rift between those with access to professional medical care and those who rely on village healers.
Whatever their background, healers emphasize that medi- cine, including plants, should promote wellness and not just treat disease. Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines grew and remained vibrant through intercultural contact, and they have flourished without knowledge of germs and other agents that often cause disease.
They sometimes share roughly similar views of the human body: It consists of a balance among basic elements that also define the natural world. This same view of the human body dominated European medicine, which called the basic elements humors, for more than 2, years — from the time of Hippocrates until the advent of modern science.
Written Chinese medical texts date back to at least the third century B. To keep those humors in balance when someone was poisoned, the Herball advocated the use of antidotes. These remedies were called mithridates, after Mithradates VI. The ruler of Pontus, in present-day Turkey, from B. The eventual concoction was so complicated it took six months to prepare, and in subsequent centuries experts expanded the number of ingredients to more than a hundred.
These items, set to verse to help people remember them, included rhubarb, ginger, black pepper, anise, fennel, red roses, and licorice. For more than 2, years Western doctors believed that a balance of four humors defined human health. In a medieval manuscript people reflect the humor dominant: Black bile contributed to melancholia, phlegm made people slow and stolid, yellow bile made them choleric, and blood made them sanguine.
At the time, Greece consisted of city- states whose populations totaled approximately , people. Their princi- pal economic activities were farming and commerce. Trade in medicinal plants between the Mediterranean and India and China was well established. Ayurvedic medicine, for example, used pepper, a perennial climbing shrub native to India and Sri Lanka as a stimulant in cholera cases and for fevers and coma; the Chinese treated stomach prob- lems with it. Use of spices such as pepper in the Mediterranean already had a long his- tory. In B.
Just how significant such foreign influences were on Greece remains unclear, but they may have contributed to the basic idea that all illness and health come from an imbalance or balance of fluids, or humors, within the human body. That philosophy dominated European medicine and the use of medicinal plants until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In Europe the first known written version of humors came from Empedocles, a Sicilian-born philosopher who lived from B. Empedocles attacked the traditional Greek belief that two elements — fire heat, life, and knowledge and night cold, death, and ignorance — make up the world. His belief that natural selection plays a role in the formation of animals influenced Charles Darwin Hippocrates B.
He thought that primary efforts to promote health should come from diet and exercise, and that the use of medi- cines was unimportant. The writings of Hippocrates address medicines only briefly. But Hippocrates placed no particular emphasis on plants. The dominant humor was believed to determine an individual s temperament. Doctors used herbs, bleeding, and other measures to restore balance to the four humors and thus return the patient to good health. Whose idea was it to use insects this wa yi Presumably, such medical treatments were not devised at random or on a whim.
Was the practice based on experience, on see- ing such prescriptions help sick people, or was it a myth that people such as Hip- pocrates simply repeated? No one knows. These scholars probably based their work on things they heard and on written fragments that had survived from the time of Hippocrates. Whatever their sources, some of the wis- dom the Egyptian scholars attributed to Hippocrates does sound strange. Basing his ideas on observation and inference rather than on exper- imentation, Aristotle concluded that health is a balance among these qualities and that disease is an imbalance.
Such views mirrored Indian and Chinese concepts of disease. Returning to Pergamum, he served as surgeon to gladiators and then went to Rome, where his reputation as a healer earned him the position of personal physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He based his conclusions on observation rather than experimentation. Perhaps the most influential Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle believed that disease results from an imbalance of four basic humors found in nature and in the human body. Three other strong advocates of the humoral approach— the fourth- century B. Greek Hippocrates, the first-century A.
Islamic physician Avicenna — compare notes in a woodcut from a medical text top. An illustra- tion from a fifteenth-century Hebrew translation of Avicenna s Canon of Medicine depicts pharmacists preparing prescriptions opposite. Plants for such remedies came from Asia, Africa, and Europe. This view of medicine, Galen believed, was self- evident.
These men demonstrated that when the nutriment become altered in the veins by the innate heat, blood is produced when it is in moderation, and the other humours when it is not in proper proportion. Thus, those articles of food, which are by nature warmer are more productive of bile, while those which are colder produce more phlegm.
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His assertions, he says, are also "based on prolonged experience. How could it be otherwise? He did dissect morn keys, pigs, sheep, cats, lions, wolves, an elephant, and other animals, conducting experi- ments that were rough, yet scientific. Galen fed pigs different foods and opened their stomachs to see what happened during digestion. He tested the prevalent belief that fluids in the body always flowed both ways.
The Galenists were intelligent, well-informed, and solidly based in the scientific knowledge of their time. They placed great faith in empirical observation. Galen, indeed, urged young people to question and doubt the highly respected scholars he himself praises as the "Ancients. Nor did he conduct experiments that examined the effects of hellebore, pepper, scammony, and other plants he frequently recommended. West- ern apothecary shops with drawers and shelves full of ingredients for medicines did not change until the midth century, with the advent of modern pharmaceutical drugs.
But he could have given some patients one herb and others with similar symptoms another herb to see which worked best. Instead, Galen based his conclusions about plants on clinical observation and information he received from healers, many of whom had discovered plants via the doctrine of signatures. According to this doctrine, the Creator or creators endowed plants with signs of their medicinal usefulness: Lung-shaped leaves were useful for breathing problems; yellow leaves were helpful against jaundice; bladder-shaped leaves helped with urinary problems.
Inherent in the doctrine of signatures is an implied belief in intentionality on the part of the plant: It grows a certain way to offer a specific service to humans. The Roman scholar Pliny a. If you want a medicine for stomach problems, it is not difficult to find some parts of some plants shaped like stomachs. Closely related to the doctrine of signatures was the belief in astrology. Medical astrologers built upon basic astrology, which assigned certain attributes to major heav- enly bodies. Many leading physicians also believed that medicinal plants worked best when collected under certain astrological conditions.
Such beliefs keep many people today from taking herbal remedies seriously, even though the remedies often contain plant chemicals now known to have powerful effects on the human body. In an ancient portrait two women prepare an herbal medicine left. In a 16th-century illustration below injured people line up to have their blood taken.
Medieval experts ascribed astrological characteristics to medicinal herbs, which were collected according to presumed dictates from the planet governing them. Herbal books and other documents thus recorded information about astrological posi- tions associated with particular plants, and physicians often relied on abbreviated tables to help with bedside calculations. According to Galenic thinking, a doctor must diagnose a humor imbalance and take measures to correct it.
The standard approach was to treat a specific imbalance with a drug opposite it in quality. A hot complaint, for example, would require a cold remedy. Central to most diagnoses was the need to remove fluids from the body. Doc- tors thus wanted people to urinate, sweat, vomit, salivate, or develop diarrhea. With our present knowledge, Galen's notion of humors sounds strange. How could making patients sweat, or giving them herbs to make them vomit, cure disease?
The Galenic belief that a poison had to pass from the body to restore humoral balance, how- ever, was logical. Although no one knew that bacteria and other disease-causing microbes existed, they did know that something in the body had to be eliminated. This approach fit well with the medicinal use of plants because finding a plant that makes someone urinate, sweat, vomit, salivate, or develop diarrhea is not difficult. Humors made Galenic medicine flexible because so many plants could be used to affect fluids in so many ways.
By medieval times the theory of the four original humors was no longer complex enough to fit all the known illnesses and methods to cure them. The notion of degree took hold, with each plant having four degrees of each attribute. Thus, a plant might be "hot near the first degree, and dry in the third. In less than years after his death, the Roman Empire had begun to dissolve. Perhaps the absence of a central authority encouraged even the best minds to cling to accepted truths. These institutions effected medical innovations such as taking pulses and examining urine as means of diagnosis, but they primarily sus- tained and refined the use of plants to serve Galenic humors.
Although they conquered Egypt in the seventh century, the Arabs did not learn how to read hieroglyphics and never discovered an Egyptian medical papyrus. Anything the Muslims might have learned about ancient Egyptian medicine had been transmitted orally over the centuries. Turning to their pre-Muslim roots in the desert — which has a relatively narrow range of plants — the Arabs had a strong interest in the use of metals in medicine and in alchemy, defined as the practice of employing plants and chemicals to change one metal to another.
Most ancient cultures practiced some form of alchemy, which often included efforts to transform lead and other metals into gold. Muslim contributions to the science of chemistry and its application to medicine were so significant that the word "alchemy" comes from the Arab al-kimiyd. In their work with plants Arab chemists used acid preparations and equipment that permitted evaporation, as well as filtration, crystallization, distillation, and other procedures. They experimented with remedies, refined dosages, simplified prescriptions, applied mathematical calculations to medicines, and emphasized the need for precision in using medicines.
Influential Muslim physicians included Ibn Sina, who lived in present-day Spain from about to Translated versions of his book influ- enced the curriculum of European medical schools until the mid- 17th century. Arab botanist and pharmacologist Ibn al Baitar wrote several books that discuss about 1, medicines. The pharaohs' battle surgeons had used mixtures of sugar and honey to stop bleeding from wounds, a technique used by Europeans until the advent of antibiotics. Sugar promotes new tissue growth by drying the bed, or bottom, of a wound, weakening the bacteria 61 present there by dehydrating them.
Some surgeons today have started using sugar to help heal deep wounds. The Muslims learned about sugar from the works of Galen, who said it was equal in value to silver. They imported sugar from India, where it had been cultivated since at least B. Growing it first in Sicily and Spain, Arab farmers then took sugar to northern Africa. Its use in medicine fueled the demand for it. Apothecaries needed sugar because it not only had medicinal properties but also helped people take the so often foul-tasting mixtures that were prescribed.
According to legend the first nonmedical use of sugar in Europe came around , when a French apothecary coated almonds with it. Sugar remained an expen- sive medicine until large-scale production began in North America after the arrival of Europeans. Most striking about Arab influence is its range. The Arabs disseminated medicinal plants and knowledge from China and India to the west coast of Africa and present-day Spain — a sphere of influence larger than had been embraced by any previous civiliza- tion.
Arabs who traveled through these regions were among the first ethnobotanists. Ibn Battuta, an Islamic scholar, journeyed between Beijing and Tombouctou in the 14th century. While in Arabia he witnessed uses for plants, such as betel and coconut, that were not well-known in other regions. William Shakespeare, then at the height of his popularity, could have seen this work.
In Othello Iago refers to opium and mandrake, whose root serves as a sedative, when he predicts Othellos reaction to news of Desdemona's supposed infidelity: Not poppy, nor mandragora, Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, Shall ever medi- cine thee to that sweet sleep Which thou owedst yesterday. Hall practiced medicine in Stratford upon Avon from to A country doctor, he had no known medical degree and called himself a master of arts. Some physicians at that time studied for ten years and were educated at Oxford, Cambridge, 63 or in Scotland and continental Europe.
Both Oxford and Cambridge had established professorships of medicine, and an effort was under wap in England to limit medical practice to authorized persons. Despite his lack of a formal medical degree, Hall must have enjoyed a good reputation: Among his patients was William Compton, the Earl of Northhampton, who lived more than 40 miles away — several days on horseback.
In 17th-century Europe, the ailing who had money saw a doctor; others saw a neighbor, friend, or family member. Most villages had at least one self-trained healer who usually dispensed "simples," remedies using only one plant.