Some evidence for the use of doctrine of signatures in the land of Israel and its environs during the Middle Ages

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Abstract

The Doctrine of Signatures, was developed in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, though, its traces are spread until the present day in different traditional medicine cultures. This study traces the use of the Doctrine of Signatures in the medical and pharmacological literature of the Land of Israel and it's environs during the Middle Ages. The historical sources support the claim that although this theory did not originate in the region, it was certainly practiced there. These sources have revealed 23 substances with medicinal uses based on the Doctrine, bearing witness to the extent of its influence at the time: PLANTS: Common Agrimony, Common Balm, Common Snapdragon, Coral Peony, Corn Gromwell, Lebanon Barberry, Mullein, Orchid, Panther Strangler, Red Horned Poppy, Rhubarb, Rose of Jericho, Southern Maidenhair Fern, Spiny Broom, Sumach, Walnut, Wild Dog Rose. ANIMALS: Firefly, Red Coral, White Cuttle Fish. MINERALS: Red Chalk (Haematite), Sea Urchin, White Clay. The main categories of the Doctrine uncovered were: similarity between the substance used and the human organ; resemblance in shape or behaviour to a specific animal; correlation between the colour of a substance and the colour of the symptoms; similarities between the substance and the patient's symptoms and the use of a substance that might produce symptoms of a particular disease in a healthy person to remedy those same symptoms in one who is sick.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-655, 664
JournalHarefuah
Volume141
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)

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