Healers of Note – Avicenna


Known in the western world as Avicenna his name was Abu Ali al-Husayn ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Sina (also known as Ibn Sina). He was born c 980 in Afshana near Bukhara.

While not a “herbalist” per se. He did contribute to the knowledge of healing, writing many treatises, the most well known being

  • The Book of Healing
  • The Canon of Medicine – a 14 volume publication that was a standard medical text in medical schools throughout Europe and the Islamic world up until as late as the 17th century. It included in its pages a complete system of medicine in the Galenic and Hippocratic tradition

He also wrote about philosophy, astronomy, alchemy, geology, psychology, theology, logic, mathematics, physics and wrote poetry

While Hippocrates is often referred to as the father of western medicine, Avicenna is sometimes referred to as the father of modern medicine. He started learning medicine at age 16, achieving full status as a qualified physician at age 18.

His fame as a physician gained him both advancement and exile or imprisonment, the apparent target of jealousy or misunderstanding by his peers.

While much of Europe was stuck in the dark ages sciences and medicine flourished in the Persian Empire. And many ancient medical texts (such as those of Galen) were preserved thanks to this.

Avicenna is also considered the inventor of distillation, while others would argue that he merely refined the process. He designed the coiled cooling pipe that improved condensation of steam, improved the extraction process for aromatic “oils” from plants, reportedly starting with a Persian favourite… the rose. It is thanks to his work in this area that he is also considered a pioneer of aromatherapy.

He died at approximately the age 56-58 in Hamadan, Persia


You can get a copy (translation) of his Canon of Medicine, and I must admit it’s on my wishlist too.

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