Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition: An Ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland arose out of a conviction, arrived at by each of the authors independently, that the history of Western medicine as usually recounted suffers from a serious distortion as far as the use of herbal remedies is concerned. Written on the assumption that it is only through the study of surviving texts that the medical practices of the past can be reconstructed, that history has been conceived in terms of tracing the gradual diffusion of written knowledge from the ancient civilisations around the shores of the Mediterranean. Because the texts were originally written in Greek or Latin (though many had been preserved in Arabic), it was the practices of the Classical world, seen through these texts, on which historians concentrated. The story of the rise of Western medicine has been carried forward through the herbals of the Dark Ages to the eventual selective filtering of that received body of learning and its culmination, after various false turnings, in the professional practices of today.
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