The Badianus Manuscript was discovered at the Vatican Library in 1929 by Professor Charles Clark. This illustrated Aztec herbal is America’s earliest medical book, having been written in 1552. Henry Sigerist, of Johns Hopkins University stated, “it has been known that the Aztecs had physicians of great experience. The Spanish conquerors were very impressed by the medical lore of the Indians and they mentioned it with much praise in all their early reports from Cortez’ letter to Charles V.”
What is significant about the Badianus Manuscript is that the translator had no Latin equivalents for most plant names, and therefore had to keep the original Aztec names. The original manuscript was illustrated with color pictures and this is helpful in identifying the plants.
The two pictures are taken from my photographic replica of the original manuscript. One of the herbals is used for excessive heat in the body.
The other herb is used for melancholy.
An interesting aspect regarding this information is that on two continents, independent of each other, the same type of medicine developed. As a result of observations, experience, reasoning and a bit of intuition, people independently came to differentiate certain symptoms of disease and learned to group them into disease-pictures. In both continents people learned the use of drugs and applied then as powders, potions, salves, ointments, or plasters. “At the time of the Renaissance, medieval herbals were still popular in Europe and the herbal books were printed and reprinted. In other words, in the sixteenth century, patients were treated along the same lines on both continents.”
Of course I am sure that many of you will conjecture how these simultaneous activities took place. I feel, when there is a need; when we stand with a humble spirit before nature, with a beautiful heart filled with appreciation and thankfulness, and an open portal in mind anticipating a response, then all things become possible.
A Beautiful Heart, an Open Mind and a Humble Spirit.