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Islamic Pharmacology in the Middle Ages: Theories and Substances

  • Danielle Jacquart (a1)


From the ninth to the 13th century, numerous works on pharmacology were written in Arabic in Eastern as well as in Western parts of the Islamic world. Starting from Galen and Dioscorides, the Islamic authors greatly improved on the Greek heritage. Among the theories they developed, two major trends stand out. The first trend emphasized medicinal degrees of primary qualities, and thus could lead to the promotion of mathematical rules. The second trend, on the contrary, focused on ‘the whole form’ of the substances, and opened the way to an experimental approach. Both these trends will continue in European pharmacology up to the Modern period.


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1. M. Ullmann (1978) Islamic Medicine (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), p. 193.
2. M. Levey (1973) Early Arabic Pharmacology, An Introduction based on Ancient and Medieval Sources (Leiden: Brill).
3. M. Comes (ed.) (1991) Ecuatorios andalusies. Ibn al Samh al-Zarqâllu y Abû l-Salt (Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona).
4. Abû l-Salt Umayya (2004) Kitâb al-adwiya al-mufrada. Arabic text, Latin and Catalan medieval translations, edited and introduced by A. Labarta, J. Martínez Gázquez, M. R. McVaugh, D. Jacquart and L. Cifuentes. Arnaldi de Villanova Opera Medica Omnia XVII (Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona).
5. On Galenic pharmacology see A. Debru (ed.) (1997) Galen on pharmacology (Leiden, New York, Köln: Brill).
6. Galen, De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis et facultatibus, edited by C. G. Kühn (1964–1965) Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia XI–XII (Hildesheim). Olms (repr. of the edition of 1821–1833).
7. Arnald of Villanova (1975) Aphorismi de gradibus. In: M. R. McVaugh (ed.) Arnaldi de Villanova Opera Medica Omnia II (Granada-Barcelona: Seminarium Historiae Medicae Granatensis).
8. See M. Ullmann (1970) Die Medizin im Islam (Leiden, Köln: Brill), pp. 268–269.
9. Sâ’id al-Andalusî (1991) Tabaqât al-’Umam. Translated into English by S. I. Salem and A. Kumar (Austin: University of Texas Press). Edition of Ibn Wâfid (1995) Kitâb al-adwiya al-mufrada (Libro de los medicamentos simples) by L. F. Aguirre de Cárcer (Madrid: C.S.I.C.–I.C.M.A.).
10. A. Labarta (1981) El prólogo de al-Kitâb al-Musta’înî de Ibn Buklârish. Texto árabe y traducción anotada. In: J. Vernet (ed.) Estudíos sobre historia de la ciencia árabe (Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona), pp. 181–316.
11. See G. Strohmaier (1999) Avicenna (München: C.M. Beck).
12. Ibn Sînâ (1877) al-Qânûn fî l-tibb, 3 vols. Bûlâq (ed.) (Cairo).
13. Galen, De compositione medicamentorum secundum locos, De compositione medicamentorum per genera, edited by C. G. Kühn (1964–1965) Claudii Galeni Opera Omnia XII–XIII (Hildesheim). Olms (repr. of the edition of 1821–1833).
14. Bûlâq (ed.) vol. 3, p. 318.
15. Avicenna, Liber Canonis, ed. Venice 1507 (reprod. Hildesheim: Olms, 1964).

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Islamic Pharmacology in the Middle Ages: Theories and Substances

  • Danielle Jacquart (a1)


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