1st Edition

It All Depends on the Dose Poisons and Medicines in European History

    258 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    258 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is the first volume to take a broad historical sweep of the close relation between medicines and poisons in the Western tradition, and their interconnectedness. They are like two ends of a spectrum, for the same natural material can be medicine or poison, depending on the dose, and poisons can be transformed into medicines, while medicines can turn out to be poisons. The book looks at important moments in the history of the relationship between poisons and medicines in European history, from Roman times, with the Greek physician Galen, through the Renaissance and the maverick physician Paracelsus, to the present, when poisons are actively being turned into beneficial medicines.

    Introduction: Deadly Medicine

    [Andrew Cunningham]

    1. Poisons in the Historic Medicine Cabinet

    [Toine Pieters]

    2. "First Behead Your Viper": Acquiring Knowledge in Galen's Poison Stories

    [Helen King]

    3. Mining for Poison in a Devout Heart: Dissective Practices and Poisoning in Late Medieval Europe

    [Montserrat Cabré and Fernando Salmón]

    4. Pestis Manufacta: Plague, Poisons, and Fear in Mid Fourteenth-Century Europe

    [Jon Arrizabalaga]

    5. Alchemy, Potency, Imagination: Paracelsus's Theories of Poison

    [Georgiana D. Hedesan]

    6. Martin Luther on the Poison of Sexual Abstinence and the Poison of the Pox: From Galen to Paracelsus

    [Ole Peter Grell]

    7. Poisoning as Politics: The Italian Renaissance Courts

    [Alessandro Pastore]

    8. Gender, Poison, and Antidotes in Early Modern Europe

    [Alisha Rankin]

    9. Mateu Orfila (1787-1853) and Nineteenth-Century Toxicology

    [José Ramón Bertomeu-Sánchez]

    10. Mercury: "One of the Most Valuable Drugs We Have" (1937)

    [Andrew Cunningham]

    11. Collateral Benefits: Ergot, Botulism, Salmonella and Their Therapeutic Applications Since 1800

    [Anne Hardy]

    12. Does It All Depend on the Dose? Understanding Beneficial and Adverse Drug Effects Since 1864: Clinical and Experimental Attitudes to the Law of Mass Action and Concentration–Effect Curves

    [Jeffrey K. Aronson and Robin E. Ferner]


    Ole Peter Grell is Professor in Early Modern History at The Open University, U.K.

    Andrew Cunningham was formerly Senior Research Fellow at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, U.K.

    Jon Arrizabalaga is Research Professor in History of Science at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Institución Milà i Fontanals, Barcelona, Spain.