"History is 90% imagination and 10% document" - C. K., author of this blog
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Medicine in the Middle Age| A list of healing herbs
How did the people of medieval Europe lived without health insurance, hospitals, clinics and other forms of health care that are available to us, in today’s world.
Well, most people suffered in silence, some may not even knew they were sick, as many diseases were diagnosed later. Or even if they knew, it was more likely they had an acute pain that they could not take it anymore.
Most common for of treatment was the medicine administered to them by doctors (that had studied some classic greek and roman medicines) or, in small and remote communities, by other healers. There were physicians, barbers, surgeons, itinerary surgeons (traveling from place to place and offering their services to the wounded), healers (people without any formal training but a lot of hand-on experience in working with medicines) and apothecaries (the pharmacists of today).
The majority of medicines available in the Middle ages were obtained from, plants, herbs and spices, that were simmered, boiled, minced, and mixed with other ingredients to make a medicine that was mainly drunk and ate, and occasionally inhaled.
Here is a list of herbs, spices, and other plants used in curing (see Daily life in the Middle Ages by Paul B. Newman, p 261):
Hippocrate, greek physcian,
(cca 460 - 370 BCE)
rosemary sage marjoram mint dill squill pimpinella henbane betony pennyroyal cumin cardamon ginger cloves rhubarb lettuce and seeds of various trees
Other healing solutions included some unusual matters like pig dung for nosebleeds or raven droppings for toothaches.
Mercury(that today we know it is harmful for human body) was also used in preparation of some medicine as well as gold or some dust gathered from Egyptian mummies. These medicine were very expensive and so only available to the very rich people.