The Manuscripts of Healing Plants: Using Plants as Cardiovascular Remedies

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In particular, Lewin has collated parts of the alphabetical section from the Istanbul manuscript [65] ; whilst the sixth volume has been reconstructed by Muhammad Hamidullah from citations collected from large dictionaries and monographs and contains the descriptions of plants from the letters sin to ya [66]. His book Kitab al-nabat consists of two sections, one being an alphabetical inventory of plant names and thus the first alphabetically-ordered specialised dictionary , the second section contains monographs on plants used for specific practical purposes: kindling; dyeing; bow-making.

There also is a very interesting chapter on mushrooms and similar plants to the latter belong the parasitic broomrapes Balanophoraceae [68]. Al-Dinawari also devoted one chapter to the classification of plants tajnis al-nabat which he mentions in one of the volumes that have survived [70].


In his exposition on the earth, Al-Dinawari describes a variety of soils, explaining which is good for planting, its properties and qualities, and also describes plant evolution from its birth to its death, including the phases of growth and production of flower and fruit [73]. He then covers various crops, including cereals, vineyards and date palms. Relying on his predecessors, he also explains trees, mountains, plains, deserts, aromatic plants, woods, plants used as dyes, honey, bees, etc [74].

Figure 8a-d: Discorides ca. He is the author of the influential Materia Medica , of which several Arabic versions and commentaries were produced. One of the most famed Muslim herbalists, noted earlier, is Ibn Juljul. He studied grammar and tradition from the age of ten; at fifteen he began the study of medicine in which he became very skilful. Ibn Juljul seems to have been concerned mainly with the herbal, pharmaceutical aspects, which formed a vital part of medical work at that time [76].

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He shared much the same medical background and training as Al-Zahrawi; they both worked and wrote during the latter days of the Caliphate in Andalus [77]. He speaks of considerable contact between the Eastern Caliphate and Andalus, and students travelling in search of knowledge and training [79]. Ibn Juljul gives the origin — as far as he knows it — of all but seventeen of these items: twenty-eight from India or at any rate, coming through the Indian trade route , two from Yemen, two from Egypt one of these also from Al-Qayrawan , one from Ceylan, one from Khwarizm.

A few are from Andalus: one in general, two from near Cordova, one from near Cadiz; the Khaizuran bamboo has two types, an Andalusi and an Indian [82]. With the items from Andalus, he sometimes adds the name of the person who first used them or told him about them. Figure 9: Leaf from an Arabic translation of the Materia Medica of Dioscorides on the preparation of medicine from honey. The manuscript was copied in Baghdad in CE. He lived and worked in Cordoba, where he died around CE.

Parts of this work exist in manuscript in Oxford and London [88]. In the surviving sections of the Collection , Ibn Samjun quotes Ibn Juljul on around thirty of the items which appear in the supplement [89]. Ibn Samjun seems generally to have been neglected, yet, in the opinion of Levey, who wrote one of the best, if not the best, work on Islamic pharmacology.

Ibn Samjun must be recognized as one of the greatest botanists and pharmacologists of the entire Islamic period, probably far outstripping Ibn al-Baytar and al-Ghafiqi [90]. He begins with a description of its appearance and the value of its morphological structures, and then goes on to the various words used in connection with the mandrake, the degrees of its qualities, i.

This elaborate method of description of simples in alphabetical order became the archetype for Ibn al-Baytar centuries later when he wrote the most comprehensive work in this form on the subject [91].

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What characterised Ibn Al-Wafid was his immense knowledge of medical matters and therapeutics, with the skills to treat grave and insidious diseases and afflictions [93]. He preferred to use dietetic measures, and if drugs were needed, he preferred to use the simplest ones, before recommending compound drugs, and when he did use compound drugs, he gave priority to those less complex [95].

If and when he resorted to the use of compound drugs, he did so only sparingly, preferring the lowest amount possible [96]. His main work on simple drugs, Kitab al-adwiya al-mufrada , is partly extant in a Latin translation Liber de medicamentis simplicibus [97]. This work was not printed in Arabic, but there exists a Latin translation by Gerard of Cremona, which was later issued as a supplement to the Opp. Figure Medicinal Plants in an Arabic manuscript from Iraq, late 14th century.

There are also translations in Catalan and also Hebrew []. This work can be considered complementary to the preceding one as Ibn Al-Wafid describes compound medicine and it is a practical book; the information given is based on experience []. Ibn Al-Wafid remained renowned for his marvellous and memorable cures of very serious cases of ill health, relying on very simple and basic treatments []. Al-Ghafiqi d.

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This book was re-published by Max Meyerhof and G. Sobhy in Egypt in []. As an original thinker and sincere observer, Hamarneh notes that Al-Ghafiqi gave adequate, rational, and systematic descriptions of the physical properties of simples, their varieties, therapeutic uses, and the means to divulge and check adulteration []. Interestingly, he also differentiated between the professional duties of the physician and the pharmacist. His Materia medica manual was one of the finest on the topic that was produced during this entire medieval period [].

His acquaintance with many languages and technical botanical terms. At the end of the section on drugs which are described under each letter of the alphabet, he gives an index of their entries []. He then adds explanatory remarks concerning them included unfamiliar names of simples, diseases, weights and measures, and technical words.

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The text also shows his dedication and diligence as a shrewd investigator. For example, he mentions how he continued his research for some time to identify a kind of thistle, the Onopordon acanthium Linn of which many varieties were known []. The Aqrabadhin of Al-Qalanisi fl.

In the introduction to its 49 chapters, the author explained his motives for compiling his manual:. The seasons, techniques, and procedures used in gathering vegetable drugs, whether fruits, flowers, leaves, roots, gums, or seeds, as well as animal drugs. He considered minerals the most important and effective of the simples gathered from the three natural kingdoms. Figure Views from the Islamic model for gardens: Flower-beds having regular geometric shape — rectangles, star shapes usually eight-pointed , diamond shapes and octagons Source ; and flowerpots, which are very widely used in Islamic gardens; they are sometimes massed together in large numbers or lined against the side of pools.

Interpretation of the meaning of technical words and phraseology as rendered from Greek into Arabic. For example, the transliterated words of aqrabadhin and theriac, and the meaning of such terms as sakanja bin a mixture of vinegar and honey in water , robs, electuaries, and lohocks. The discussion is most interesting and deserves further future studies. Description and administration of pharmaceutical preparations such as gargles, fumigators, eye salves and collyriums, dentifrices, liniments, suppositories and ovules, hazelnut-shaped troches, toilette products, and medicated cosmetics.

Description of apparatus used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and their application. Qalanisi, for example, describes a clyster enema of 50 mithqals capacity about one-half of a pint used in medical therapy. The clyster is a tube-like cylinder divided into two parts; one is half the length of the other and is separated by a partition securely welded to the body of the cylinder. The smaller part has a mouthpiece open to the outside. The simples used in the preparing of solutions and infusions for enemas are also specified according to need chapter Mention is made of formulae used for insecticides and pesticides which include such ingredients as sulphur, ammonium salts, naphtha, tar, pitch, African rue, and laurel chapter 48 [].

At the end of this list of botanists from the Islamic West, we mention two botanists from the East. Ibn Sirabiyun, commonly known as Serapion Junior, lived not earlier than the 11 th century c. Serapion Junior, however, wrote a work based on Dioscorides and Galen entitled Liber de medicamentis simplicibus or De temperamentis simplicium , in which he mentions a similar work by Ibn Al-Wafid Aben Guefit. Other Latin publications include the Venetian of and ; the latter was issued under the following title Serap.

De simplic. Medicam, historia libri Vii Nicol Mutono interprete []. The Latin version published at Strasbourg in was based on the translation of Abraham of Tortosa and was issued together with the works of Ibn Rushd, Al-Razi and Galen []. Born at Sur Tyre in , he studied medicine in Damascus under Abd al-Latif and was attached to a hospital in Jerusalem.

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He finally established himself in Damascus, where he died around []. Al-Suri wrote a treatise on simple medicines al-adwiya al-mufrada , wherein he discussed the views explained by one of his colleagues Taj al-Din al-Bulghari in a similar treatise [].

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What distinguished Ibn al-Suri was that he traveled extensively and explored the Lebanon range to discover and collect plants. He was accompanied by an artist whose business it was to represent them in colour as completely as possible at different stages of their growth [].

In his work on the Materia Medica , he had the herbs which had been the subject of his investigations painted, not only as they grew, but as they appeared, when dried, on the shelves of the druggist; his is the first example of an Arabic book illustrated in colour []. This 58 x 31 metre garden offers a window onto Muslim civilisation in the multicultural city of Berlin. The apogee of botanical writing in Arabic was reached by Ibn al-Baytar He was born in Malaga and studied in Seville, where he collected plants with his teachers [].