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The founders of herbal remedies

Updated on March 1, 2010

A herb is born

Hippocrates ( 460-377 BC)

Hippocrates was born on the Island of Kos and through his great interest for nature wrote Corpus Hippocraticum which described in detail around 200 herbal medical plants.

Many of the plants were originally from India and Egypt and were described after their ability to cure certain ailments. These illnesses include: Water retention, Provoking sickness in cases of poisonous substances being ingested, cures for constipation and plants which could give a calming effect.

Hippocrates didn’t only write about disease he also wrote about the ethics around medicine. Shunning black magic and superstitions calling them “primitive medicine” thereby laying the foundations for modern day scientific based medicine.

Hippocrates philosophy built on the fact that it is nature that heals a person not the doctor.

Aristoteles ( 384-322 BC )

Aristoteles entered Platons Acadamy in Athens when he was only seventeen years old . Aristoteles is known as the father of biologi through his systematic and hierarchial methods of categorising elements in nature.

Theofrastos ( 372- 269 BC)

Was important for the history of plants and for describing the reasons on how plants grew and survived

Pedanius Dioscorides ( ca 20-90 )

A roman military doctor with an interest in botanics. In his travels he collected knowledge and recorded about different plants and their ability to cure ailments.

In addition he recorded detailed information about the structure of each plant, where they grew and what they could be used for. His major works are a composition of five books “ De Materia Medica” gives very detailed information about our ancestors pharmacology. These books were referred to for at least 1500 years after they were written. With as many as 600 plants being described in minute detail this book also described herbal cures which can be just as useful today as they were then.

Henrik Harpestreng ( ?-ca 1244)

A Danish doctor who studied at Salerno school which was the most important school of it’s time .

One of the most important books he wrote was about herbal medicine and was widely used in the whole of Scandinavia.)

Henrik Smid ( 1495-ca 1563 )

A Danish doctor born in the South of Sweden in Malmø.

Smid published several books which were later collected and published as one in 1577 called ”En skøn Lystig ny Urtegaard” ( Also a herbal book ) This book was rewritten several times and could still be found dated back to 1922 in aalborg, Denmark and also in 1976.

Smid believed that human illness was a punishment from God but he also provided them with plants to help cure their illness. Smid tried to find and develop a cure for the plague but was also struck down by this himself and died in 1563.

John Gerard ( 1545-1611 )

Gerard was an English herbalist in Holborn. In 1596 he published a book with a list over unknown plants he had grown in his garden.var en engelsk urtekyndig som var kjent for sin urtehage i Holborn. I 1596 publiserte han en liste over sjeldne planter som han dyrket i hagen, In 1597 he published the famous work ” The great herbal” This was especially known for it’s detailed descriptions of plants and how they should be used. This was revised in 1633 and became a composition of several herbalists

Nicholas Culpeper ( 1616-1645 )

Culpeper gave out his herbal book in 1652 called ” Culpeper’s Complete Herbal” he was very focused on the quality of each plant in relation to being cold, warm, dry or moist. With his background in astrology he considered the patients and their illness before treating. This method can still be seen today in some forms of Chinese medicine.

William Withering ( 1741-1799 )

Withering is an English doctor who discovered the importance of the foxglove in treating heart problems ( Digitalis purpurea )

Samuel Thomson ( 1769- 1843 )

An American who studied the Indians use of herbs in medicine. Thomson believed that illness was caused by loss of vitality and the collection of cellular waste trapped in the body. This led him to trat his patients with medicine that would cause them to purge. He also believed that the loss of heat was an issue and treated with cayenne to replace this loss.

Thomson used herbs to stimulate the blood circulation.

Much of his work was also used in England.

Johan Kunzle ( 1857-1945 )

A Swiss priest and herbal doctor.

Kunzle published a number of books. The most famous being "Chrut und Uchrut" published in 1911.

During the last decade many of Kunzle’s recipes have been used by millions of people. His book has been sold to over 2 million people and there are many who believe in the positive results they achieved.

Alexander Fleming ( 1881-1995

The Scottish Nobel prize winner for his work on bacteria and founder of penicillin brought great changes to medicine in 1928.

Herbal medicine, however did and does exist today and can have some amazing results with less side effects than the modern day medicine.

With the fear of resistance herbologists may even have a more important job to do today than 100 years ago.


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    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 

      8 years ago from Southern Missouri

      Very interesting! I will share this with my almost-herbalist-wife. Thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great topic...keep em coming.

    • Aisla profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolyn Mikkelsen 

      8 years ago from Norway

      Sorry! That should have been that "they" were all really appreciated.

    • Aisla profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolyn Mikkelsen 

      8 years ago from Norway

      Thankyou for the comments it is really appreciated.

      When you write something you are never really sure if people actually read them or not.This gives alot of encouragement.

    • frogyfish profile image


      8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Very interesting tidbits of historical/medical importance. It is amazing that most were doctors of their day - and today it is considered quackery to practice herbalism by so many 'modern doctors'. We all need to learn a little more about our own 'personal herbalism treatments'. Thanks for sharing your hub!

    • Lady_E profile image


      8 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting info. I really hope my brain remembers this, incase a Question comes out in a Quiz about it.

    • anglnwu profile image


      8 years ago

      Good run down on the history of herbal medicine and the great men behind them. Thanks for sharing.


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