The original sources of traditional medicine
April 8, 2014 11:51 PM Subscribe
How were the medicinal properties of plants established in antiquity?
posted by paleyellowwithorange to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
For example, I was reading the Wikipedia entry for calendula (aka marigold), and there's a section in there about traditional medicinal use - in this case, internal detoxification and external wound care. And modern science has indeed confirmed that calendula can indeed be used for these purposes (according to the same Wikipedia entry).
All my imagination can come up with is someone looking at a field of marigolds and deciding, "I'm gonna eat a bunch of those petals every day for a month and see how I feel." Or "You've been stabbed? Why don't we try putting some of those petals on the wound?" But these scenarios seem far-fetched to me. But what do I know?
It appears that every plant has an array of different healing properties associated with it. The Wikipedia entry for traditional medicine indicates that even the Sumerians 5000 years ago were in possession of "well-established" knowledge along these lines. Sure, knowledge was gathered by shamans and 'old wives' - but how would such knowledge have been attained in the first place? Who was doing the science?
Can anyone with any education about this stuff provide an authoritative response? Or at least point me to a reputable source?