Tutorial 9. Year 1.

End of Year1.

Greetings Damiana,

To add to valuable data which will be compiled by the use of your spread sheets it is also possible to gain a reasonable guesstimate of potential yield of any specie selected for harvest. This type of information will allow you to wild harvest with some sensitivity to the needs of the plant for its own propagation requirements. Table 5.19A of the Herbal will give you the idea of what is reasonable per m2.

Mark out with some string and pegs, a square metre and count the plants within it. At a suitable stage of growth take 4 to 5 plants, weigh them separately and then average the weights. Remember this is fresh weight. Use the tables in Modules 2 and 3 to convert to dry weight. From there you can extrapolate potential yield of extracts at the varying ratios. In fact it would be a good idea to quickly refresh your memory on Modules 2 and 3 before venturing forth to harvest.

We have briefly looked at three extant systems of Apothecary work. Galenic, Homoeopathic and Spagyric At one time the doctor/apothecary was the norm in all medieval societies. However as the trade and the spoils grew, and the fact that the Grocers and Pepperers controlled the considerable trade in herbs and spice. the squabbles over money and control led to the divisions which we have today.

In Britain considerable infighting developed amongst the medical people of that time. The doctors were able to command exorbitant fees with exotic recipes. Plants from far distant lands, and the injudicious ill informed use of the new mineral recipes introduced by Paracelsus including of course, powdered pearls and other precious gemstones. The growing divide between Doctor and Apothecary acted against the sick. Only the well to do could afford to keep these doctors in the style to which they had become accustomed.

Those that were able to afford such ministrations were those in least need of it, and many of the problems that the doctor treated were caused by a surfeit of rich foods and lack of personal hygiene, which was so far removed from the plight of the working poor who formed the base of the pyramid of privilege. And from which the privileged pimped.

The cities that grew around the great ports of the nation were choked with sailing ships from far flung lands, the Americas, Arabia, Africa, Persia and far distant Cathay. Not unnaturally and because of the wide spread malnutrition and lack of sanitation, disease was rife, and sickness cut swathes of death on a regular basis. For the medical men, business as always was brisk.

The needs of the poor were served as often as not with herbal simples prescribed by the Apothecary/Herbalist. One such was the great Culpeper who would dispense his services gratis to those that could not pay. Of whom, the following are some small excerpts from a splendid essay by Dylan Warren-Davis.

Let Culpeper speak through small excerpts from Dylan�s essay.

"Many a times I find my patients disturbed by trouble of Conscience or Sorrow, and I have to act the Divine before I can be the Physician. In fact our greatest skill lies in the infusion of Hopes, to induce confidence and peace of mind."

Dylan continues;

Culpeper's success as a herbalist made him particularly critical of the Royal College of Physicians. Of their practices he said:

"They are bloodsuckers, true vampires, have learned little since Hippocrates; use blood-letting for ailments above the midriff and purging for those below. They evacuate and revulse their patients until they faint. Black Hellebor, this poisonous stuff, is a favourite laxative. It is surprising that they are so popular and that some patients recover. My own poor patients would not endure this taxing and costly treatment. The victims of physicians only survive since they are from the rich and robust stock, the plethoric, red-skinned residents of Cheapside, Westminster and St James."

Culpeper's deepest desire was to make herbal medicine available to everyone, especially the poor who could ill afford to visit a physician. In 1649 he published in English a translation of the Pharmacopoeia Londonesis of the Royal College of Physicians, calling it A Physical Directory, or a Translation of the London Dispensary. Of this work Culpeper said:

" am writing for the Press a translation of the Physicians' medicine book from Latin into English so that all my fellow countrymen and apothecaries can understand what the Doctors write on their bills. Hitherto they made medicine a secret conspiracy, writing prescriptions in mysterious Latin to hide ignorance and to impress upon the patient. They want to keep their book a secret, not for everybody to know. Not long ago parsons, like the predecessors of grand-father [William Attersole], used to preach and prey in Latin, whether he or his parishioners understood anything of this language or not. This practice, though sacred in the eyes of our ancestors, appears ridiculous to us. Now everyone enjoys the gospel in plain English. I am convinced the same must happen with medicine and prescriptions."

His uncle Anthony Parris cautioned Nicholas of the consequences of his translation:

Be careful and do not attempt an illegal translation or anything that can harm you and your family. People in high places may indict you before the Star-Chamber.

To which Nicholas replied:

"The Star-Chamber has been abolished, thank God, and I am not afraid of punishment. Imagine the doctors saying, that laying medicine more open to mankind would lessen their patients' faith in it. The truth is that opening the book shows what jumble of obscure and costly ingredients the prescriber intends to burden our stomachs with".

The move sparked a major controversy and the College counter-attacked in the periodical Mercurius Pragmaticus. They strongly disapproved of his translation:

The Pharmacopoeia was done (very filthily) into English by one Nicholas Culpeper who commenced the several degrees of Independency, Brownisme, Anabaptisme; admitted himself of John Goodwin's school (of all ungodliness) in Coleman Street; after that he turned Seeker, Manifestarian, and now has arrived at the battlement of an absolute Atheist, and by two years' drunken labour hath Gallimawfred the Apothecaries book into nonsense, mixing every receipt therein with some scruples at least of rebellion or atheism, besides the danger of poysoning mens' bodies. And (to supply his drunkenness and lechery with a 30-shilling reward) endeavoured to bring into obloquy the famous Societies of Apothecaries and Chyrurgeons.

Dylan continues:

Contrary to this critique, the work is a very exact translation of the Pharmacopoeia. Yet what Culpeper did was to add his own commentary about the uses and virtues of each drug. This is what particularly excited the ire of the College of Physicians - hence the 'danger of poysoning men's bodies' through the lay person not knowing how to prescribe medicines. Clearly the physicians were rattled by Culpeper's actions though there was very little they could do about it. The College's monopoly and legal status over the practice of medicine had been granted by Royal Charter, yet they were unable to prosecute Culpeper due to the abolition of the Star-Chamber. Furthermore, the trying of such an outspoken supporter of the commonwealth in the new political climate would have had little support. The execution of Charles I just prior to the publication of A Physical Directory was a powerful blow to their authority. It is interesting in this account to see the Royalist rhetoric against the 'rebellion' of the Parliamentary cause.

Dylan Warren-Davis.

What is interesting here, this is the same sort of treatment that the power and control mongers dealt out to Paracelsus in Europe. A study of Culpeper�s �Complete Herbal� will indicate to the interested student that he was of the same mind as Paracelsus. Culpeper is also an exemplar of the herbal simple, and like Paracelsus his name lives on, and in these troubled times the ordinary person may shelter in that ever flowering tree, which is to be found rooted in the people themselves. Let Culpeper have the final words, taken from his enduring Herbal.

"It seems the college holds a strange opinion, viz. that it would do an Englishman a mischief to know what the herbs in his garden are good for. But my opinion is, that those herbs, roots, plants and & co which grow near a man are far better and congruous to his nature than any outlandish rubbish whatsoever and this I am able to give a reason of to any that shall demand it of me".

Ivor Hughes
Auckland, New Zealand 2005.

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