Ancient Medicine with Alain Touwaide
The history of medicine has long fascinated me. In the ancient Mediterranean, the lines between food and medicine were often blurred. Hippocrates, the “father of medicine”, is famously quoted as stating, “Let thy food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Interestingly, there are no actual records of this statement – but it clearly falls in line with the philosophy of medicine that emerged over a span of three hundred years when the Hippocratic Corpus, or series of manuscripts, were written. In this episode, I meet with Dr. Alain Touwaide – a leading scholar in the history of science and medicine in the ancient world – to find out more about how certain plants were integrated into medicine in the past. We cover 3,000 of fascinating history in this episode – so get ready to explore the foods and medicines that spanned the rise and fall of empires with us!
About Alain Touwaide
A Classicist, a Byzantinist, and an Arabist, Alain Touwaide specializes in the History of Medicinal Plants and their knowledge in the ancient Mediterranean World. He has had an unconventional transdisciplinary career spent in Medical Schools, Colleges of Pharmacy, and Faculties of Sciences. After 15 years at the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC (USA), he is now affiliated with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) (USA), where he is the Program Director of the Medical Humanities and Ethnobotany Initiative. He has taught and lectured all over the world and has authored numerous publications with a particular interest in the making of plant and botanico-medicall knowledge and its transmission across the Mediterranean World from Antiquity to the Renaissance and later.
About the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions
The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions is a research and education centre at the interface of science, medicine, and the humanities, which addresses a fundamental challenge of the 21st-century world: the need for new medicines and new strategies for the discovery of such medicines. Researchers in the Institute explore ancient books in libraries across the globe, bring to light and investigate their texts, and create on this basis a new knowledge that will ultimately lead to new discoveries and procedures for the integration of traditional resources into contemporary medical research. Work at the Institute crosses the boundaries of traditionally defined disciplines and brings together multiple such disciplines in a unique synthesis.
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You can support the mission of the Institute by making a charitable donation HERE.
About Cassandra Quave
Prof. Cassandra Quave is best known for her ground-breaking research on the science of botanicals. Scientists in her research lab work to uncover some of nature’s deepest secrets as they search for new ways to fight life-threatening diseases, including antibiotic resistant infections. Working with a global network of scientists and healers, Cassandra and her team travel the world hunting for new plant ingredients, interviewing healers, and bringing plants back to the lab to study. Besides research, Cassandra is an award-winning teacher, and has developed and taught the college classes “Food, Health and Society” and “Botanical Medicine and Health” at Emory University.
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