Chinese, the Egyptians, and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine
history of herbs goes back a long, long time. An Egyptian medical
document, called the Ebers Papyrus, found in 1874 by a German
Egyptologist, Georg Ebers, contains a listing of 800 medicinal
drugs including anise, caraway, coriander, fennel, cardamom,
garlic, saffron, and poppy seed to name a few. They used these
in medicine, cosmetics, aromatics, cooking, fumigating, and
most important, embalming. It dates back to about 1700 B.C.
and records the use of common herbs such as garlic and juniper
being used medicinally for about 4000 years.
the days of Ramses III, hemp was used for eye problems just
as it may be prescribed for glaucoma today, and poppy seeds
were used to quiet crying children. The Chinese claim an even
earlier record than the Egyptians. Who wrote the first herbal
may not be as important as the knowledge that herbs have been
used to benefit mankind since way before recorded history. This
knowledge was handed down for generations until writing was
invented. There is proof of their use by three ancient and great
civilizations: the Chinese, the Indian medical system, known
as Ayurveda, whose treatments include not only herbs, diet,
and exercise, but also mental and physical practices (yogas)
intended to help people develop positive emotions and qualities,
and the Egyptians. With the Egyptians, we get a sense of herbal
history as being closely connected with the history of economic
botany. It is woven into the history of peoples and civilizations
that depended on wild plants for food, medicine, fiber, and
other raw materials. The need for herbs and spices for embalming
was instrumental in stimulating trade.
Chinese medicine is a system of healing dating back to about
2500 B.C. Ancient Chinese herbals are still studied and followed
today, and while much has been added, nothing much has been
taken out. The Chinese practitioner treats illness as a disharmony
within the whole person. The purpose of the physician is to
restore harmony and balance to enable the body's natural healing
to work efficiently. Herbs are central to the treatment aided
by acupuncture and massage.
medicine, "the knowledge of how to live", stresses that good
health is the responsibility of the individual. Illness is imbalance.
Herbs and dietary controls are used to restore balance. Invaders
added to and altered this body of knowledge. The British closed
Ayurvedic schools in 1833, but fortunately did not destroy the
ancient learning altogether .