Open main menu

Page:Indian Medicinal Plants (Text Part 1).djvu/43

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
xxxv
INTRODUCTION.

than the natives of any other country on the face of the earth. The vegetable Materia Medica of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Jews, Babylonians, Persians, Chinese and Arabs does not display such an extensive knowledge of medicinal plants and drugs as does any of the authoritative medical works of the Hindus. The knowledge of herbs possessed by the aborigines of America, Australia or Africa, is also not very great. Regarding the medicinal agents of the American Indians, Mr. B. F. Stacey says:—

"From a thorough investigation I am convinced that the list is not lengthy, and that there is but little to be learned from their school of practice or repertoire of medicinal agents."[1]

Mr. J. N. Rose, in his "Notes on Useful Plants of Mexico." says:—

"The country people and Indians seem to have but little knowledge of medicine, generally using teas made of bitter and strong-smelling herbs."

Mr. J. H. Maiden writes in his "Useful native plants of Australia." (Pp. 146-147):—

"In fairness to ourselves we must confess ourselves very little indebted to the Australian aboriginal for information as to the medical (or in fact any other) properties of our plants. The poor aboriginal chiefly takes interest in the vegetation as supplying him with his scanty food, or as affording him fibre useful in securing fish and other animal substance. As far as we know, the Materia Medica of the blacks is of a very meagre description, yet the acquisition of even such little knowledge as they are supposed to possess has been slow and difficult, inasmuch as persons who have lived in a state of nature with them have not been distinguished for either their medical or botanical knowledge."

He has very truly observed:—

"With the native Materia Medica of India, for instance, the case is very different. While some remedies are evidently used fancifully, and others for every disease to which the human

  1. The Ph. J. of May, 30, 1874, p. 958.