A materia medica, or the materials of medicine, is a vital part of any herbologists arsenal and in this lesson you will learn how to start working on your own.
“If the whole of the materia medica as now used could be sunk in the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.” – Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., the renowned Dean of Harvard Medical School.
Materia medica is from the Latin meaning medical material. The ingredients used to make medications. A synonym for pharmacology. In herbology this refers to the herbs we use and our materia medicas are the most prized books on our bookshelves.
A materia medica is a treatise (usually) on all the materials used in a particular school or system of medicine.
Each plant has it’s own entry called a monograph which is a detailed listing of the medicinal and therapeutic properties of a single herb. Monographs also include the history, source, physical characteristics, constituents, actions, preparations, doses, and toxicology of the ‘medicines’ used in the system.
A materia medica is usually very personal and as such it will highlight the individuality of its author. What’s included is usually what the author has personal knowledge of, approves of and has a personal interest in. In this regard it differs from ‘dispensatories’ which are books of general reference.
Standard Entries in a Herb Monograph
Most herbalists cover basically the same entries in their monographs. Since this is an introductory course we’ll focus on the key entries that you should include in your own herb monographs.
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