engraving by Richard Gaywood
|Born||18 October 1616|
|Died||10 January 1654 (aged 37)|
Spitalfields, London, England
|Alma mater||Cambridge University|
|Known for||The English Physitian (Complete Herbal), 1652–1653|
|Fields|| Botany |
Nicholas Culpeper (18 October 1616 – 10 January 1654) was an English botanist, herbalist, physician and astrologer. Dr. Reason and Dr. Experience, and took a voyage to visit my mother Nature, by whose advice, together with the help of Dr. Diligence, I at last obtained my desire; and, being warned by Mr. Honesty, a stranger in our days, to publish it to the world, I have done it." Culpeper came from a line of notabilities, including Thomas Culpeper, lover of Queen Catherine Howard, also a distant relative, sentenced to death by her husband, King Henry VIII.His book The English Physitian (1652, later the Complete Herbal, 1653 ff.) is a store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick (1655) is one of the most detailed works on medical astrology in Early Modern Europe. Culpeper spent much time outdoors cataloguing hundreds of medicinal herbs. He scolded some methods of contemporaries: "This not being pleasing, and less profitable to me, I consulted with my two brothers,
Culpeper was the son of Nicholas Culpeper (senior), a cleric. Shortly after his birth his father died, and he was removed to Isfield the home of his maternal grandfather the Reverend William Attersoll, where he was brought up by his mother. Attersoll was a great influence on the young boy's political and religious beliefs, and taught him both Latin and Greek. As a boy Culpeper became interested in astronomy, astrology, time, his grandfather's collection of clocks, and medical texts in Attersoll's library. It was his grandmother who introduced him to the world of medicinal plants and herbs. He would go on, throughout his life, spending time in the countryside cataloguing plants. Later from the age of 16 he studiedat Cambridge, but it is not known at which college, although his father studied at Queens', and his grandfather was a member of Jesus College. He then became apprenticed to an apothecary. After seven years his master absconded with the money paid for the indenture, and soon after, Culpeper's mother died of breast cancer. In 1640 he married Alice Field, the 15-year-old heiress of a wealthy grain merchant, which allowed him to set up a pharmacy at the halfway house in Spitalfields, London, outside the authority of the City of London, at a time when medical facilities in London were at breaking point. Arguing that "no man deserved to starve to pay an insulting, insolent physician" and obtaining his herbal supplies from the nearby countryside, Culpeper could provide his services free of charge. This and a willingness to examine patients in person rather than simply examining their urine (in his view, "as much piss as the Thames might hold" did not help in diagnosis), Culpeper was extremely active, sometimes seeing as many as 40 patients in a morning. Using a combination of experience and astrology, he devoted himself to using herbs to treat his patients.
During the early months of the English Civil War Culpeper was accused of witchcraft and the Society of Apothecaries tried to rein in his practice. Alienated and radicalised, he joined the London trainbands in August 1643 under the command of Philip Skippon, and fought at the First Battle of Newbury,where he carried out battlefield surgery. He was taken back to London after sustaining a serious chest injury from a bullet, from which he never fully recovered. There he cooperated with the Republican astrologer William Lilly on A Prophesy of the White King, which predicted the King's death. He died of tuberculosis in London on 10 January 1654 at the age of 37 and was buried in New Churchyard, Bethlem. Only one of his seven children, Mary, survived to adulthood. He was survived by his wife, Alice, who married the astrologer John Heydon in 1656. The date of her death is uncertain: some sources indicate 1659, but others that she was licensed as a midwife in 1665.
Influenced during his apprenticeship by the radical preacher John Goodwin, who said no authority was above question, Culpeper became a radical republican and opposed the "closed shop" of medicine enforced by the censors of the College of Physicians. In his youth, Culpeper translated medical and herbal texts such as the London Pharmacopaeia from Latin for his master. It was during the political turmoil of the English civil war, when the College of Physicians was unable to enforce its ban on the publication of medical texts, that Culpeper deliberately chose to publish his translations in vernacular English as self-help medical guides for use by the poor who could not afford to consult expensive physicians. He followed them up with a manual on childbirth and with his main work, The English Physician, which was deliberately sold cheaply. It eventually became available as far afield as colonial America and has been in print continually since the 17th century.
Culpeper believed medicine was a public asset, not a commercial secret, and the prices physicians charged were far too high compared with the cheap and universal availability of nature's medicine. He felt the use of Latin and expensive fees charged by doctors, lawyers and priests worked to keep power and freedom from the general public.
Three kinds of people mainly disease the people – priests, physicians and lawyers – priests disease matters belonging to their souls, physicians disease matters belonging to their bodies, and lawyers disease matters belonging to their estate.
Culpeper was a radical in his time, angering his fellow physicians by condemning their greed, unwillingness to stray from Galen and use of harmful practices such as toxic remedies and bloodletting. The Society of Apothecaries were similarly incensed by the way he suggested cheap herbal remedies, as opposed to their expensive concoctions.
Culpeper attempted to make medical treatments more accessible to lay persons by educating them about maintaining their health. Ultimately his ambition was to reform the system of medicine by questioning traditional methods and knowledge and exploring new solutions for ill health. The systematisation of the use of herbals by Culpeper was a key development in the evolution of modern pharmaceuticals, most of which originally had herbal origins.
Culpeper's emphasis on reason rather than tradition is reflected in the introduction to his Complete Herbal. He was one of the best-known astrological botanists of his day,pairing the plants and diseases with planetary influences, countering illnesses with nostrums that were paired with an opposing planetary influence. Combining remedial care with Galenic humoral philosophy and questionable astrology, he forged a strangely workable system of medicine; combined with his "Singles" forceful commentaries, Culpeper was a widely read source for medical treatment in his time.
Culpeper's translations and approach to using herbals have had an extensive impact on medicine in early North American colonies, and even modern medications.Culpeper was one of the first to translate from Latin documents discussing medicinal plants found in the Americas. His Herbal was held in such esteem that species he described were introduced into the New World from England. Culpeper described the medical use of the foxglove, the botanical precursor to digitalis, used to treat heart conditions. His influence is demonstrated by the existence of a chain of "Culpeper" herb and spice shops in the United Kingdom, India and beyond, and by the continued popularity of his remedies among New Age and alternative holistic medicine practitioners.
Nicholas is featured as the title protagonist in Rudyard Kipling's story "Doctor of Medicine", part of his Puck of Pook's Hill anthology.
The following herbs, their uses and preparations are discussed in The English Physitian.
Mentha pulegium, commonly (European) pennyroyal, or pennyrile, also called squaw mint, mosquito plant and pudding grass, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Crushed pennyroyal leaves emit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. Pennyroyal is a traditional folk remedy, emmenagogue, abortifacient, and culinary herb, but is toxic to the liver and has caused some deaths. European pennyroyal is related to an American species, Hedeoma pulegioides. Though they differ in genera, they share similar chemical properties.
The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures among the types where an individual's personality types overlap and they share two or more temperaments. Greek physician Hippocrates described the four temperaments as part of the ancient medical concept of humourism, that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviours. Modern medical science does not define a fixed relationship between internal secretions and personality, although some psychological personality type systems use categories similar to the Greek temperaments.
Herbal medicine is the study of pharmacognosy and the use of medicinal plants. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through most of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. Modern medicine makes use of many plant-derived compounds as the basis for evidence-based pharmaceutical drugs. Although herbalism may apply modern standards of effectiveness testing to herbs and medicines derived from natural sources, few high-quality clinical trials and standards for purity or dosage exist. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.
Traditional medicine comprises medical aspects of traditional knowledge that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as "the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness". Traditional medicine is contrasted with scientific medicine.
The year 1651 in science and technology involved some significant events.
The year 1652 in science and technology involved some significant events.
Medieval medicine in Western Europe was composed of a mixture of existing ideas from antiquity. In the Early Middle Ages, following the fall of the Western Roman Empire, standard medical knowledge was based chiefly upon surviving Greek and Roman texts, preserved in monasteries and elsewhere. Medieval medicine is widely misunderstood, thought of as a uniform attitude composed of placing hopes in the church and God to heal all sicknesses, while sickness itself exists as a product of destiny, sin, and astral influences as physical causes. On the other hand, medieval medicine, especially in the second half of the medieval period, became a formal body of theoretical knowledge and was institutionalized in the universities. Medieval medicine attributed illnesses and disease, not to sinful behaviour, but to natural causes, and sin was only connected to illness in a more general sense of the view that disease manifested in humanity as a result of its fallen state from God. Medieval medicine also recognized that illnesses spread from person to person, that certain lifestyles may cause ill health, and some people have a greater predisposition towards bad health than others.
Solanum dulcamara is a species of vine in the potato genus Solanum, family Solanaceae. Common names include bittersweet, bittersweet nightshade, bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, and woody nightshade.
An herbal is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their medicinal, tonic, culinary, toxic, hallucinatory, aromatic, or magical powers, and the legends associated with them. A herbal may also classify the plants it describes, may give recipes for herbal extracts, tinctures, or potions, and sometimes include mineral and animal medicaments in addition to those obtained from plants. Herbals were often illustrated to assist plant identification.
Apothecary is one term for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica (medicine) to physicians, surgeons, and patients. The modern chemist has taken over this role. In some languages and regions, the word "apothecary" is still used to refer to a retail pharmacy or a pharmacist who owns one. Apothecaries' investigation of herbal and chemical ingredients was a precursor to the modern sciences of chemistry and pharmacology.
Verbena officinalis, the common vervain or common verbena, is a perennial herb native to Europe. It grows up to 70 cm high, with an upright habitus. The lobed leaves are toothed, and the delicate spikes hold clusters of two-lipped mauve flowers.
William Salmon (1644–1713) was an English empiric doctor and a writer of medical texts. He advertised himself as a "Professor of Physick". Salmon held an equivocal place in the medical community. He led apothecaries in opposing attempts by physicians to control the dispensing of medicines, and was derided by physicians as "the King of the Quacks". He has been described as "a brilliant publicist, but not much of a philosopher".
Ebenezer Sibly was an English physician, astrologer and writer on the occult.
Betonica officinalis, commonly known as common hedgenettle, betony, purple betony, wood betony, bishopwort, or bishop's wort, is a perennial grassland herb native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa.
Hilda Leyel, who wrote under the name Mrs. C. F. Leyel, was an expert on herbalism and founded the Society of Herbalists in England in 1927, as well as a chain of herbalist stores called the "Culpeper Shops".
In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, for medicinal purposes, or for fragrances; excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macronutrients. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant, while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.
Carapichea ipecacuanha is a species of flowering plant in the family Rubiaceae. It is native to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil. Its common name, ipecacuanha, is derived from the Tupi ipega'kwãi, or "road-side sick-making plant". The plant has been discussed under a variety of synonyms over the years by various botanists. The roots were used to make syrup of ipecac, a powerful emetic, a longtime over the counter medicine no longer approved for medical use in the West, for lack of evidence of safety and efficacy. An example of emetic compound from the roots is emetine.
The history of herbalism is closely tied with the history of medicine from prehistoric times up until the development of the germ theory of disease in the 19th century. Modern medicine from the 19th century to today has been based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. Evidence-based use of pharmaceutical drugs, often derived from medicinal plants, has largely replaced herbal treatments in modern health care. However, many people continue to employ various forms of traditional or alternative medicine. These systems often have a significant herbal component. The history of herbalism also overlaps with food history, as many of the herbs and spices historically used by humans to season food yield useful medicinal compounds, and use of spices with antimicrobial activity in cooking is part of an ancient response to the threat of food-borne pathogens.
De materia medica is a pharmacopoeia of medicinal plants and the medicines that can be obtained from them. The five-volume work was written between 50 and 70 CE by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek physician in the Roman army. It was widely read for more than 1,500 years until supplanted by revised herbals in the Renaissance, making it one of the longest-lasting of all natural history books.
Culpeper, Colepeper, or Culpepper is a surname, first written "de Colepeper" in the 12th century in Kent, England. Notable people with the surname include:
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