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Plants have been used for medicinal purposes since time immemorial, and to this day, many of the important and familiar remedies originate in plants.

This chapter outlines the history and early traditions of medicinal plants in the Middle-east. The importance of the early “medicine-men” in ancient cultures, as collectors and healers, is emphasized. Archaeological findings in sites such as Iraq and Babylon, as well as clay tablets and ancient manuscripts from Egypt, Sumaria and Assyria, India and China reveal the immense body of knowledge that existed during these old times in history.

A special place is devoted to the Bible, as an ancient document describing the use of plants in this region during biblical times.

Since before the Common Era, great herbalists, such as Dioscorides, Hippocrates, Theophrastus and Galenius acted as scientists and therapists leaving us with prominent books, such as De Materia Medica of Dioscorides. This priceless document provided the world with vast knowledge regarding hundreds of medicinal plants which are found in the region of the Middle-East. Most of these plants are still used at the present time for therapy and some of them are rich sources of natural compounds with medicinal properties.

It was only by the mid-fifteenth century that the influence of Dioscorides, and that of the classic herbalists, began to fade within European botany and medicine. During this period, and until our times, the European herbalists began researching plants for pure research purposes, which resulted in great scientific discoveries.

Although there is no doubting the predominance of chemical research in modern medicine, there is a notably increasing interest, within both medical circles and the general public alike, in plant-oriented folk medicine. Further research into the biochemical mechanisms of herbal medicines will enable a synthesis of traditional and modern methods of health care, to the benefit of all.

Part of the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the World book series (MAPW, volume 2)

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Introduction: Medicinal Plants in Ancient Traditions
Introduction: Medicinal Plants in Ancient Traditions

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes since time immemorial, and to this day, many of the important and familiar remedies originate in plants.

This chapter outlines the history and early traditions of medicinal plants in the Middle-east. The importance of the early “medicine-men” in ancient cultures, as collectors and healers, is emphasized. Archaeological findings in sites such as Iraq and Babylon, as well as clay tablets and ancient manuscripts from Egypt, Sumaria and Assyria, India and China reveal the immense body of knowledge that existed during these old times in history.

A special place is devoted to the Bible, as an ancient document describing the use of plants in this region during biblical times.

Since before the Common Era, great herbalists, such as Dioscorides, Hippocrates, Theophrastus and Galenius acted as scientists and therapists leaving us with prominent books, such as De Materia Medica of Dioscorides. This priceless document provided the world with vast knowledge regarding hundreds of medicinal plants which are found in the region of the Middle-East. Most of these plants are still used at the present time for therapy and some of them are rich sources of natural compounds with medicinal properties.

It was only by the mid-fifteenth century that the influence of Dioscorides, and that of the classic herbalists, began to fade within European botany and medicine. During this period, and until our times, the European herbalists began researching plants for pure research purposes, which resulted in great scientific discoveries.

Although there is no doubting the predominance of chemical research in modern medicine, there is a notably increasing interest, within both medical circles and the general public alike, in plant-oriented folk medicine. Further research into the biochemical mechanisms of herbal medicines will enable a synthesis of traditional and modern methods of health care, to the benefit of all.

Part of the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the World book series (MAPW, volume 2)

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