Thursday, 9 June 2011

MALARIA: History: Remedies from European herbals from the 16th and 17th century

Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 133, Issue 2, 27 January 2011, Pages 278-288

Michael Adamsa, , , Wandana Althera, Michael Kesslerb, Martin Klugeb and Matthias Hamburgera

From antiquity up into the 20th century tertian and quartan malaria which are caused by the parasites Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium malariae were widespread in Central Europe. Hundreds of different remedies against malaria can be found in herbals from the Renaissance.

Aim of the study
To document and discuss from a modern pharmacological viewpoint the old remedies described in eight 16th and 17th century herbals written in German.

Materials and methods
Eight of the most important herbals of the 16th and17th century including Bock (1577), Fuchs (1543), Matthiolus (1590), Lonicerus (1560), Brunfels (1532), Zwinger (1696), and Tabernaemontanus (1591 and 1678) were searched for terms related to malaria, and documented plants and recipes described for its treatment. Additionally the overlapping of these remedies with those in De Materia Medica by the Greek physician Dioscorides was studied.

Three hundred and fourteen taxa were identified in the herbals for this indication. Recent pharmacological data was found for just 5% of them. The influence of De Materia Medica was shown to be negligible with only 3.5% of the remedies in common.

European Renaissance herbals may be a valuable source of information for the selection of plants for focussed antiplasmodial screening programmes, but have received only little scientific attention. Antimalarial remedies from these herbals must be viewed as independent sources of knowledge separate from Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica.

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