MEDICINAL PLANTS USED BY ANCIENT GREEK PHYSICIANS
In Greek mythology, the mint plant was cherished by Demeter, the goddess of harvest, and her daughter, Persephone. Mint was used to treat gastrointestinal issues, bad breath, and insomnia in Ancient Greece. Today, it is additionally used for treating bronchitis, headaches, influenza, motion sickness, and muscle pain.
2. Sideritis, Greek Mountain tea
This homeopathic herbal tea is used throughout Greece to aid in illness such as the common cold, sore throats and just about every ailment. Sideritis is commonly known as “Tsai tou Vounou” and its name is derived from the word iron, (Sideron). Back in Ancient Greece it was used to heal wounds caused by iron arrows and swords. Also, Hippocrates often prescribed it as a tonic.
Fennel was first known in Greek mythology as the plant Prometheus used to steal fire from the demigods. It was also the herb that covered the battlefield of Marathon. It’s used medicinally to relieve all manners of digestive disorders, especially bloating. This sweet herb can also stimulate appetite, and it touts diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.
The olive tree was the most relished tree in ancient Greece. It was especially important to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, war, and divine intelligence; and Zeus, god of sky, thunder, and justice. The leaves can be used to treat arthritis, prevent diabetes, and lower high blood pressure as well as improve brain function. Olive oil protects against cardiovascular issues and strokes.
Ancient Greeks associated parsley with death, it was supposed to have sprung from the blood of Archemorous, whose name meant, forerunner of death. In modern herbalism, parsley seeds are used as a strong diuretic and kidney-cleanser, and the leaves are a good source of nutrition in salads, rich in vitamins A, C, And E. Parsley is often added to meals to enhance the flavour or presentation of a dish.
Saffron was sacred to Hermes the son of Zeus, and god of transitions. In mythology, there was a boy named Krokos, whom Hermes adored. When he died, Hermes transformed him into a saffron flower. This exotic spice was loved in ancient Greece, and it continues to be used in much spicy cooking in modern times for its unique flavour and medicinal properties. It helps fight depression, boost immunity, and aid in digestion. This is due to its high content of crocin, vitamins, and antioxidants.
The therapeutic use of licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can be traced back almost 4,000 years, with an entry inscribed in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (18th century BC) revealing its use as a treatment for asthma. The modern scientific view of licorice largely confirms ancient beliefs, attributing its properties to the glycyrrhizin it contains – a substance that also acts as a powerful antiviral.
The root of the mandrake (Mandragora autumnalis), a plant which thrives in rocky places in the Cyclades and Crete, often exceeds half a meter in length and branches out at the end. It was used by practitioners of the healing arts, too, for its analgesic and narcotic properties. With the “mandrake wine”, doctors treated snake bites, alleviated pain and combated chronic insomnia. With larger dosages, they could induce a deep lethargy, greatly welcomed by those about to undergo surgical procedures.
The marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is cultivated in many countries, since even those uninterested in its healing powers are readily impressed by the abundant flowers it presents every spring. Ancient Greek physicians used to add the root to grape must and, after a period of fermentation, administered the resulting wine for the healing of wounds and abscesses. Today, its sweet, mucilaginous root is used to relieve non-productive coughs and offers great service in cases of gastritis and enteritis, while poultices made from it aid in recovery from burns and wounds; the efficacy of these uses are supported by our present understanding of the plant.
10. Balkan Peony
The healer Paean was the physician who treated the gods Ares and Hades, placing therapeutic balms over the wounds they suffered during the Trojan War. Using their roots and seeds, doctors treated a host of diseases, from women’s ailments and convulsions to persistent nightmares and epilepsy. The demand for every kind of peony was so great in antiquity that false stories concerning their dangers were widely circulated so that professional root cutters wouldn’t have to face serious competition when collecting them.