THE THERAPY of human ills is a fascinating chapter of medical history and will continue to attract increasing attention throughout time. For the present purposes, avoiding the wide ramifications of mysticism and empiricism that for centuries have marked this phase of man's efforts to preserve health and to combat disease, the therapeutic properties of plants emerge as a continuous thread of consuming interest through the years. Undoubtedly, the observations of the effects of the ingestion of various elements of the indigenous plants by domestic and wild animals led to their trial by man from the earliest times. Out of this empirical practice grew the curious doctrine of signatures. The configuration of a leaf, flower, stalk, or root which resembled a human organ was a priori evidence of its potency in combatting disorders of this specific part. Granting such a background of dependence, the cultivation of plants with reputed therapeutic values
Middleton WS. A New Drug Is Born. JAMA. 1960;174(4):398–403. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.63030040010013
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.