The doctrine of signatures in Israel—Revision and spatiotemporal patterns

Amots Dafni, Saleh Aqil Khatib, Guillermo Benítez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present survey includes forty-three plant species with present-day medicinal applications that can be related to the Doctrine of Signatures (DoS). The main uses are for jaundice (33.3%), kidney stones (20%), and as an aphrodisiac (8%). Ten Doctrine of Signature uses (22.2%) are endemic (to Israel and Jordan); while none of these plant species are endemic to the region at all, their DoS uses are endemic. Summing up of all these data reveals that 73.2% of all uses found in present-day Israel could be considered as related to Muslim traditional medicine. About one quarter (24.4%) of the DoS uses are also common to Europe, and some (8.8%) to India. The two adventive species with DoS uses serve as evidence that the DoS practice is not necessarily based solely on its historical background but is still evolving locally in accordance with changes in the local flora. The current broad geographic distribution of many of the doctrine’s uses may serve as indirect evidence of its current prevalence, and not just as a vestigial presentation of ancient beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1346
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Botany
  • Doctrine of similitude
  • Ethnobotany
  • History of plant uses
  • Medical anthropology
  • Medicinal plants
  • Middle East

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The doctrine of signatures in Israel—Revision and spatiotemporal patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this