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Dioscorides and De Materia Medica - Willows and Opium

Identifier

018069

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

A description of the experience

From DIOSCORIDES - DE MATERIA MEDICA BEING AN HERBAL WITH MANY OTHER MEDICINAL MATERIALS WRITTEN IN GREEK IN THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE COMMON ERA A NEW INDEXED VERSION IN MODERN ENGLISH BY Tess Anne Osbaldeston and RPA Wood  - Introduction

Painkillers have always dominated healing texts.

Dioscorides wrote of the willow — itea, probably salix species — ‘a decoction of them is an excellent fomentation for ye gout’. In due course this knowledge led German scientists to aspirin. Dioscorides also mentions autumn crocus, another painkiller, warning of its dangers.

The world's best-known painkiller is undoubtedly opium, mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus (an Egyptian medical book dating from about 1550BCE), as well as by Theophrastus. Dioscorides describes harvesting opium — the same method is still used today for collecting the coagulated juice of the poppy heads.

The gummy exudate was called opium by the Greeks, this merely being a word for juice. Although a wonderful painkiller, opium is a dangerous narcotic. Dioscorides warned:

 ‘a little of it, taken as much as a grain of ervum (probably seed of ervil, a vetch), is a pain-easer, and a sleep-causer, and a digester ... but being drank too much it hurts, making men lethargicall, and it kills’.

 

 

The source of the experience

Dioscorides and De Materia Medica

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Overloads

Extreme pain

Suppressions

Autumn crocus
Opium
White willow

Commonsteps

References