The Doctrine of Signatures in present-day Israel

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Some evidence of the existence of an ancient pharmacological theory - the Doctrine of Signatures - has been found in the folk medicine of Israel. The research reported 14 plants with folk medicinal uses based on the Doctrine of Signatures categories including: similarity of the plant or plant organ to the damaged human organ (Alhagi maurorum, camel thorn; Astragalus macrocarpus, milk-vetch; and Cynoglossum creticum, blue hound's tongue), similarity to animal shape or behavior (Heliotropium europaeum, European tumsole; Asteriscus spinosus, starwort; and Briza maxima, large quaking grass), similarity of plant color to the color of the disease's symptoms or the medical phenomena (Rhamnus alaternus, Italian buckthorn; Citrullus colocynthis, bitter gourd; and Ecballium elaterium, squirting cucumber), and similarity of plant habitat or characteristic to human features (Parietaria judaica, wall pellitory; and Ruta chalepensis, African rue).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-334
Number of pages7
JournalEconomic Botany
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Doctrine of Signatures
  • Ethnobotany
  • Folk medicine
  • Israel
  • Medicinal plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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