The evolution of herbal medicine from past to now
Avicenna has a famous saying: “Our food is our medicine and our medicine is our food”, so the first human treatment started from knowing what to eat, because if the body does not get useful substances, it will get sick and if it eats wrong, it will causes problems. But how did they know what to consume?
In the study of ancient medicine, which is known today by various titles, we come to the point that exactly all the ancient civilizations, all of which had their own culture and hermeneutics, considered the healing process as a spiritual ritual. The physicians of these tribes, by exploring and focusing a lot on the surrounding nature and mystical practice, began to learn the properties of what they should eat.
They somehow established a spiritual connection with the world around them and owed their knowledge to what nature, the gods, or the universe gave them. This deep spiritual connection was so ingrained in them that it was as if through their spiritual experiences they were discovering the properties of everything and everything was a source of inspiration for them. Little by little, they realized what to eat, and the first treatments began here.
From ancient manuscripts and murals, reliefs and inscriptions, we find that the people of that time held doctors in high esteem and sometimes as gods. This status was given to physicians because they believed they had an understanding of nature and the world around them. Ancient physicians with their great knowledge in different sciences and discovering the causes and effects they saw in man and nature were able to lay the foundation of medicine. This medicine was based on a principle, which is to live by balancing outside and inside.
When it comes to talking about ancient physicians or reading about them, what is clear that they were active in a wide range of sciences, including philosophy, wisdom, poetry, music, medicine, astronomy, and so on.
Physicians such as Abu Rihan al-Biruni, Avicenna, the eight famous physicians of ancient Greece, and the like, all excelled in many branches of the sciences of their time. Many of them have extensive papers on astronomy, have discovered many chemical formulas, are famous in mathematics and geometry, have written books in philosophy and logic, and are familiar with art. For this reason they were called wise. The sages along with other sciences excelled in medicine.
But the question is, apart from the personal interests of the ancient physicians, why did they work to spread all the sciences? In fact, in general, what we call herbal medicine in the past was viewed holistically. That is, if a person went to a holistic doctor for a bile problem, the doctor would look for the root cause of his disease by his attitude and study of his condition, and not just the treatment of the disease itself.
With a lot of knowledge, they started by putting the patient’s history together and analyzing the patient mentally and physically to understand his set of problems, a set of problems whose outcome was a disease. This holism required a deep understanding of the other sciences. For this reason, they were constantly studying and testing, and after understanding all the meanings, they began to compile their writings, and in the meantime, due to their extensive knowledge of the human condition, they established a holistic view in the treatment of diseases.
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The beginning of herbal medicine
The symbol of the snake and the cup is the oldest document of the semantics of traditional medicine and ancient medicine. This is a great document in all schools and its initial stages were invented from ancient Persian and Mithraism. The snake is a symbol of fertility, earth, repelling demons, whose role you can see in abundance in the writings of ancient Persia, Ilam and Mesopotamian civilization. This symbol then went from ancient Persia to ancient Greece and now is a global symbol.
The herbal medicine can not be considered related to a specific region or territory. This knowledge has been with man since he was on earth, and based on the concept of the symbol of the snake and the cup, this knowledge has been constantly evolving. The exchange of knowledge between ancient sages and philosophers is seen throughout history, and this knowledge was passed from professors of ancient medicine from east to west and from west to east.
Chinese and Persian books and manuscripts went to Greece, and from ancient Greece came the product of the experience and discovery of their translated physicians to the East. These scientific exchanges and cultural interactions gradually led to the formation of the basic and universal concepts of herbal medicine, which continues to this day.
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Avicenna, the symbol of Persian herbal medicine
Avicenna was born in 370 AH in a village near the city of Bukhara.
When he was five years old, he learned mathematics and Arabic from his father, who was a scholar. He was very smart from the beginning and had a great desire to acquire knowledge.
Avicenna spent most of his life on long journeys from one city to another and from one government to another, from wandering in the desert and getting lost in the desert, to living in a remote village and reaching the Sultan’s ministry and living in the court. Avicenna may have been accused of treason in the ministry and also experienced government imprisonment. Then he secretly escaped from prison and went to Isfahan in unknown clothes.
During this time, he also wrote a number of important books and even built an observatory. But this peace for him was not permanent; Because once Isfahan was attacked by Massoud Ghaznavi, the son of Sultan Mahmoud Ghaznavi, and in this attack some important works of this great sage were destroyed.
Because Arabic was the common language of scientific works at that time, Avicenna and other Iranian scholars living at the time wrote their books in Arabic. Later, some of these works were translated into other languages, including Persian.
Avicenna has left 456 books and treatises in the fields of medicine, philosophy, wisdom, logic, jurisprudence, expression, natural and supernatural sciences, astronomy and mathematics, botany, vocabulary, poetry and music. It can be said that the most important book written by Avicenna in the field of medicine is Al-Qanun Fi Al-Tib, which has been translated into most languages of the world and has been completed by many physicians.
Avicenna has written many books on medicine. Among these books is Qanun, which he wrote before the age of 20. It is a famous book that universities in the East and the West are familiar with, and it has fourteen volumes. Avicenna’s Qanun was superior to all other medical books for several centuries, both in Islamic lands and in medieval Europe.
One of the characteristics of Avicenna in medicine is his clinical observations on various diseases, from skin disorders and lung diseases, to nervous system disorders and various types of insanity. Avicenna relies heavily on the element of experience and attaches great importance to the use of medicines; So much so that part of the Qanun is devoted to drugs and their properties and qualities.
Avicenna’s scientific and philosophical dominance over the thoughts of past and present scholars was such that he was called Aristotle and Hippocrates of Islam. Avicenna was the first to distinguish between facial paralysis caused by an internal factor in the brain and paralysis caused by an external cause. He has well described a stroke that results from a large amount of blood. Avicenna’s theory in this regard was contrary to the belief of the Greeks. He was the first to believe that some diseases are transmitted through water and soil.
He finally died on the first Friday of Ramadan in 428 AH in the city of Hamadan.