1st Edition

Quid pro quo Studies in the History of Drugs

By John M. Riddle Copyright 1992
    330 Pages
    by Routledge

    All too often ancient herbal and other remedies have been dismissed as ’simply’ folklore, of no relevance to medical science. John Riddle’s approach, however, has been to explore the history of drugs with the hypothesis that ancient and medieval medicines were effective - a methodology that he expounds in the final essay (hitherto unpublished). Indeed, he shows, both from detailed case-studies and from the comparison of the listings given by classical and medieval authorities with those in modern pharmacopoeias, that our ancestors had discovered and made effective use of many of the drugs used in medicine today, from antiseptics and analgesics to oral contraceptives, even chemotherapy for cancer. There is the suggestion, therefore, that more careful examination and identification of the drugs used in the past may reveal chemicals that can be exploited anew. Central to these studies is the investigation of how a drug was used and how knowledge about it was transmitted - and perhaps also distorted in the process - from the Classical world through the Middle Ages. Les anciens remèdes, phytothérapie et autres, ont trop souvent été mis aux rangs du folklore et considérés comme n’ayant aucun rapport avec la science médicale. L’approche de John Riddle, cependant, a été d’explorer l’histoire des drogues, en prenant pour hypothèse l’efficacité de la médecine ancienne et médiévale - une méthodologie qu’il expose dans son dernier essai (jusqu’à présent jamais publié). En effet, il démontre à partir de cas d’études détaillés et de la comparaison établie entre les listages fournis par les autorités antiques et médiévales et ceux des pharmacopées modernes, que nos ancêtres avaient découvert et mis à bon escient l’utilisation de nombreux remèdes dont se sert la médecine à l’heure actuelle: des antiseptiques et analgésiques, aux contraceptifs oraux et même jusqu’à la chimiothérapie pour le cancer. Sugge

    Contents: Pomum ambrae: amber and ambergris in plague remedies; The introduction and use of Eastern drugs in the Early Middle Ages; Lithotherapy in the Middle Ages - lapidaries considered as medical texts; The Latin alphabetical Dioscorides manuscript group; Amber in ancient pharmacy: the transmission of information about a single drug; Theory and practice in medieval medicine; Book reviews, lectures, and marginal notes: three previously unknown 16th-century contributions to pharmacy, medicine and botany - Ioannes Manardus, Franciscus Frigimelica and Melchior Guilandinus; Albert on stones and minerals; Pseudo-Dioscorides Ex herbis femininis and early medieval medical botany; Gargilius Martialis as a medical writer; The Pseudo-Hippocratic Dynamidia; Ancient and medieval chemotherapy for cancer; Byzantine commentaries on Dioscorides; Folk tradition and folk medicine: recognition of drugs in Classical antiquity; Methodology of historical drug research; Indexes.


    John M. Riddle

    '...Riddle’s reading of medieval texts sheds welcome light on therapeutic practices of the distant past...[there are] substantive contributions to the study of medieval medicine presented in this anthology.' Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 67