More Herbal Research..and Questions
- Partly spurred by public questions ("...and did it work?"), partly
my own curiosity, I've been researching herbal remedies lately. I am
a dyed in the wool skeptic and want good ol' double blind studies,
Came across this one tonight and was interested by the "science
ratings" they offer. They also give an idea of how much to use
(dunno how well that compares with 18th c. dosages/methods).
ANY idea what percentage of 18th c. American/British medicine
was "drugs" as we know them and what was herbal medicines? Hard
question to nail down. I realize there is some overlap, esp. with
drugs of botanical origin.
Would one's station in life affect which type of remedy was used?
Were distinctions made as to herbs for the poor (affording a doctor
a factor too), "medicines" for better off folks? Did one category
cost more than the other or did it depend on the exact substance? I
guess if you grow it or collect it, it's cheap.
Would a person go and buy a "medicine" without a doctor's advice? --
based on past experience/"common knowledge"/friend's advice? Rx not
needed then, right? Did one try herbs first, then resort to doctor
only if illness seemed severe (depending on affording one too)?
Where did the doctor get the herbals? or did he leave it up to the
patient to provide the most common ones?
I also wondered (are you tired of this yet?) how much of the kitchen
garden went to herbs for cooking and how much for medicinal use. I
know most things were/could be used for both but I wonder how much
herbs went into lower class cooking? [note to self--ask Savory Fare
list]. I mostly hear about salt, mace, nutmeg, pepper...and one or
two more for common use in cooking.
- I can tell you that in Medieval times to the Renaissance the kitchen was medicinal. All things effected the balance of the humours. From the weather, Time of year or day, the items that you used, down to the food you ate, all should be and was used to keep body in perfect balance. I have found that from the Renaissance to the 18th century that a slow change begins taking food as medicinal or balancing to it being a solely pleasurable event. I am unsure that there was too much of a difference until you have separate gardens. Just two examples of food that was medicinal then slowly changes to pleasurable: Look at the attributes of tobacco as it was recommended as an expectorant then eventually became a pleasurable pastime even while doctors believed in its powers for the lung. Coffee was good for expelling the of fumes of the head, cleaned the stomach and ridded one of giddiness, but at the same time there were many coffee houses were social drinking of it was commonplace.
This doesn't exact answer your questions but it is one aspect of how the idea of medicinal herbs and the garden changed. I look forward to others insights and comments. Thanks for starting a stream of thought!