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The Chinese, the Egyptians, and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine
The Greeks
The East and the West
The Physiomedicalists and the Eclectics
The Lore
Astrological Botany

THE HISTORY

The Chinese, the Egyptians, and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine
The history of herbs goes back a long, long time. An Egyptian medical document, called the Ebers Papyrus, found in 1874 by a German Egyptologist, Georg Ebers, contains a listing of 800 medicinal drugs including anise, caraway, coriander, fennel, cardamom, garlic, saffron, and poppy seed to name a few. They used these in medicine, cosmetics, aromatics, cooking, fumigating, and most important, embalming. It dates back to about 1700 B.C. and records the use of common herbs such as garlic and juniper being used medicinally for about 4000 years.

In the days of Ramses III, hemp was used for eye problems just as it may be prescribed for glaucoma today, and poppy seeds were used to quiet crying children. The Chinese claim an even earlier record than the Egyptians. Who wrote the first herbal may not be as important as the knowledge that herbs have been used to benefit mankind since way before recorded history. This knowledge was handed down for generations until writing was invented. There is proof of their use by three ancient and great civilizations: the Chinese, the Indian medical system, known as Ayurveda, whose treatments include not only herbs, diet, and exercise, but also mental and physical practices (yogas) intended to help people develop positive emotions and qualities, and the Egyptians. With the Egyptians, we get a sense of herbal history as being closely connected with the history of economic botany. It is woven into the history of peoples and civilizations that depended on wild plants for food, medicine, fiber, and other raw materials. The need for herbs and spices for embalming was instrumental in stimulating trade.

Traditional Chinese medicine is a system of healing dating back to about 2500 B.C. Ancient Chinese herbals are still studied and followed today, and while much has been added, nothing much has been taken out. The Chinese practitioner treats illness as a disharmony within the whole person. The purpose of the physician is to restore harmony and balance to enable the body's natural healing to work efficiently. Herbs are central to the treatment aided by acupuncture and massage.

Ayurvedic medicine, "the knowledge of how to live", stresses that good health is the responsibility of the individual. Illness is imbalance. Herbs and dietary controls are used to restore balance. Invaders added to and altered this body of knowledge. The British closed Ayurvedic schools in 1833, but fortunately did not destroy the ancient learning altogether .

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