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April 10, 2010

Medical Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts

Researchers at the W├╝rzburg Institute of the History of Medicine are investigating cures from medieval treatises such as the Lorsch pharmacopoeia, a monastic medical book dating to around 795A.D.  After coming across an article in Der Spiegel about their work (Looking for Medical Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts), I wanted to know more and looked into the institute. 

They have a great website with a history of monastic medicine and database of medicinal plants Abbey Medical Research Unit.  Their site even includes a medicinal plant of the month.  This month:  Horsetail or Equisetum arvense L., which was used to reduce bleeding in ancient and medieval practice. 

And, in case you're interested, here's a link to some information on Lorsch Abbey, where the Lorsch pharmacopoeia was created: Lorsch Abbey.


James said...

That is really interesting. Who knows, we may be able to extrapolate some benefits from these ancient sources that may have modern day medicinal implications. In the near future people may be instructed by their doctor to take two horsetail hairs a day for a severe case of hemorrhoids...ha!

On a similar note (and nothing to do with hemorrhoids) I remember listening to this interesting article a few years back on NPR. A botanist was able to germinate a 2000 year old seed of an extinct date palm that had some reported medicinal properties.

Traci said...

Thanks for the link to the NPR clip. How fascinating! There's so much they can learn from this plant. Personally, I'd love to visit a garden of plants germinated from ancient seeds to get a sense of the colors, textures, and scents. Do you suppose researchers would ever create a botanical garden like that?