Monday, 2 June 2014
2pm to 5pm.
Royal College of Physicians
11 St Andrews Place
History of the RCP garden of medicinal plants, by Ms Jane Knowles
The Royal College of Physicians was founded in 1518 but there is no evidence that they made a physic garden prior to the one created on the present site. This, the College’s 5th home, was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun and opened in 1965 with a quarter of an acre of space for a garden. Initial planting was financed by a Fellow of the College, his only stipulation being the inclusion of a willow and a castor oil plant. For 10 years from 1978 Dr Hollman, cardiologist and FRCP, looked after the garden and made the planting more relevant to the history of the college and to the practice of British medicine. Several significant trees and shrubs from this period give the present garden a mature framework. In 2005 the College brought in Mark Griffiths to redesign the garden with a medicinal plant theme and this redevelopment continues, now managed by the Garden Fellows and the Head Gardener. This talk will describe how we aim to create a place of beauty which is also an educational resource relevant to its situation and where each plant in the collection of 1100 different species has a story to tell about medicine.
Doctrine of Signatures and Doctrine of Humours, by Dr Henry Oakeley
While the use of certain plants as medicines, such as opium from poppies, was on the basis of observed effects, these two belief systems appear to be the basis for why certain plants were held to be medicinal from around 400BCE until the mid. 19th century. The concept that the world and its contents were divinely created in an instant of time, with plants created and given (or signed with) a shape or colour by the Creator to indicate their medicinal use to mankind, came to be called the Doctrine of Signatures. The Empedoclean concept of the four elements of fire, water, air and earth from which all matter was made was adapted by Hippocrates to be represented as the four humours that make up living things. Imbalance of these humours caused illnesses, which could be relieved by plants which contained opposite properties – the Doctrine of the Humours. The lecture traces the rise and fall of these concepts, and how they were used, through 2,400 years of the written word.
Disocorides and plants in the Classical era, by Professor Michael de Swiet
Disocorides was a giant in the history of medicine and medicinal plants. He was a Greek physician practicing in the 1stcentury AD and wrote De materia medica, an account of more than 500 different medicinal plants. This was far more than in any other treatise previously written. It remained the standard text for about 1600 years. In the classical era, and for many years later, medical thinking was dominated by the doctrine of humours which stated that disease resulted from an imbalance of the four humours: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Dioscorides did not write about how plants might redress imbalances in the humours. Rather his writing was disease orientated stating what plants were helpful for which diseases.
Registration: from 1.30pm.
Garden tour: will be taking place in between the lecture with a coffee break.
Cost: The lectures are open to all and are free to RCP fellows, members and their guests; £10 per general public; £6 per students.