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Medicine and Healing in the Pre-Socratic Thought - A Brief Analysis of Magic and Rationalism in Ancient Herbal Therapy

[ Vol. 21 , Issue. 2 ]


Luigi Santacroce*, Skender Topi, Kastriot Haxhirexha, Shkelqim Hidri, Ioannis Alexandros Charitos and Lucrezia Bottalico   Pages 282 - 287 ( 6 )


Background: Medicine has gone through many schools of thought before arriving in the version we see in our world today. In the beginning, it was based on religion, superstition, and magic plants for therapy. This approach was practiced for many centuries until a period of cultural development arrived. This change occurred in the ancient Greek era, when new theories on nature arose: physiokratia emerged to describe the nature of humanity, including its genesis and supporting phenomena. From the various mystical traditions, we have come to understand the natural phenomena that surround the universe, thanks to the knowledge of the "hidden causes" that emerged due to this trend of philosophical thought.

Methods: We studied ancient texts to determine the common roots between myth, therapy, and religion of medical cultures in the pre-Hippocratic era and the era of pre-Socratic philosophers.

Results: This study is focused on the period of time before and during pre-Socratic thought, showing that there are many similarities in the approach of therapy for various diseases in that era. The Greek contribution to Western medicine was in the development of a rational system of thought that has been transmitted in medical culture. This attempt to interpret humanity was called philosophy. Hippocrates, who came after the pre-Socratics, changed the old approach to patients. When the approach to medical diagnosis and healing changed, it affected the therapy of other ancient cultures. The ancient Greeks were influenced by other civilizations’ approaches to therapy, especially with the use of plants and the different mythological and religious outlooks connected to this use. Despite the emergence of pre- Socratic rationalism, supernatural beliefs remained even when the use of herbs was no longer practiced in direct connection to their origins in myth and magic. The first detachment of magic therapy occurred later with the father of medicine, Hippocrates.

Conclusion: The ancient Greeks invented the rationalist doctrine, which influenced medicine. Thus, the birth of philosophy, through its many stages, has influenced therapeutic patterns in medicine, especially with medicinal herbs.


Philosophy, natural healing, medicinal herbs, ancient rationalism, drugs, therapy, history of pharmacy, history of medicine.


Ionian Dept. (DJSGEM), University of Bari “A. Moro”, Bari, Ionian Dept. (DJSGEM), University of Bari “A. Moro”, Bari, Department of General Surgery, Medical Faculty, University of Tetovo, Tetovo, Ionian Dept. (DJSGEM), University of Bari “A. Moro”, Bari, Poisoning National Center, Emergency and Urgency Service, Riuniti University Hospital of Foggia, Foggia, Polypheno Academic Spin Off, University of Bari “A. Moro”, Bari

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