Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
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Gary Lockhart's own words about his research and books:
The ancient Greeks told the story of how Prometheus stole fire from the gods. They grew angry and sought a way to punish him. So they sent the irresistibly attractive Pandora with a box to his brother. When Epimetheus opened the box: disease, sickness, suffering, hunger and distress escaped to plague people. Then Zeus ordered Prometheus to be chained to the most desolate rock in the Caucusus mountains.
    Greek tradition told the story of how people first obtained the medicinal herbs. Chiron --the combination of horse and human-- was the teacher of Asclepias the first doctor. Chiron gave people the four panaceas to cure all of humanity's problems and overcome the legacy of Pandora's box.
    I believe that most human problems have an answer in the plant world. Nearly one in ten plants throughout the world has some tradition of use in the past. The twentieth century was the great era of chemical medicines, but now scientists are growing more interested in medicinal plants.
    Over 400,000 species of higher plants have been classified throughout the world. They are the descendants from the first plants which colonized the land 500 million years ago. As plants evolved, they faced pressure from the climate, insects and animals. In order to survive, they evolved a variety of biochemicals, which made them distasteful to their predators. Plants faced hostile parasites in the soil and attacks from viral disease. The species that remain have a long history of survival of the fittest.
    In European tradition the first herbal was the lost herbal of Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. This was followed by the small herbal of Theophrastus in the third century B.C. and then the large herbal of Dioscorides in the century after Christ. A steady stream of herbals followed these pioneering books during medieval times.
    In 400 B.C. Hippocrates was using about 400 herbs in his practice, though most of them were culinary foods for sick people. A century after the time of Christ the books of Dioscorides, Pliny, Scribone and Celsius listed the medical effects of about 700 herbs. Doctors replaced the herbals with formula books used by pharmacists, which were called pharmacopoeias. Listings of the herbs used during the 1800s include 1,800 plants. But by the 20th century there was a strong trend to eliminate all natural products in favor of synthetics.
    The written herbals haven't changed much in the last 2,500 years. Many of the herbals in today's bookstores are really updates of Dioscorides. In the last 300 years a new body of medical literature was generated to share the discoveries and ideas of doctors. Medical journals were started to meet the needs of doctors by reporting better ways of diagnosis and curing.
    In 1665 a group of scientists in France founded the Journal des Scavens. The world's first science journal also included articles on medicine. This began the tradition of observing, testing and reporting results. In 1680 the Zodiacus Medicus-Gallicus became the first journal to specialize in medicine. The first true medical journal began in 1731 in England, but it only lasted a short time. The first medical journal of the United States began in 1797. All of the medical journals of the 1700s could comfortably fit into a small bookcase. By 1841 there were only 43 medical journals in existence. This increased to 6,000 by 1981.
    The proliferation of journals was paralleled by medical books with the invention of the printing press and papermaking machine. In 1392, the Faculte de la Medicine had 12 books. I did most of my research at the University of Washington where the campus libraries have five million books! The first herbal printed in English was the Grete Herball in 1516. In 1652 Thomas Thader wrote the first medical book of the United States which was A Brief Guide to the Smallpox and Measles. There are now more than 3,000 books written on the subject of herbs.
    The golden era of herbal medicine occurred around 1880, when hundreds of articles in medical literature dealt with plants all over the world. By 1890 a major shift was occurring, as the emphasis shifted to chemicals and chemical extracts of plants. By 1900 articles were appearing labeling doctors still using herbs as old fashioned and out of date. The virtues of chemicals and "pure alkaloids" were heavily advertised. Doctors began to consort with drug companies, and even common knowledge about medical heritage was no longer taught. There are plenty of articles in medical, dental, agricultural, forestry and nutritional journals dealing with herbs. I have attempted to sift through several hundred million pages of medical literature of the last three centuries to find these accounts.
    In the course of 24 years of work I visited some 40 major libraries in the United States and Canada. I sifted through hundreds of thousands of journals. On a good day I could work my way through ten feet of old medical journals. I literally worked my way from A to Z in the large medical libraries. Much of the interesting work was done in the nineteenth century, and I went through most of the important medical journals of the past three centuries. I used indexes as a last resort, preferring to sift through millions of pages and find whatever was there. Doing research the hard way, is tough and time consuming. I found thousands of articles that I wouldn't have found if I had used indexes.
    Through the 24 years of work, I had articles translated from Russian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Danish, Swedish and German. I received letters from eight countries, materials from the National Archives, the Patent Office and even a letter from the military archive historian at the Pentagon!
    How did I get started? In 1976 I attended an herbal workshop in British Columbia. Everyone shared their experiences and knowledge of herbs. A California woman asked me to write 20 pages about my knowledge and something about the chemistry of medicinal plants. Months later when I went to send the material, I found that I had lost her name and address. I decided to expand the material into a small book that I prepared for a class I was teaching. Over the years I expanded the notes, and the chapter on woman's herbs grew into the nucleus of A Woman's Herbal Guide book. The seed that was planted grew into a set of 14 books.
    Around 1997, I ended up in the hospital with ulcers one night. I knew that I was to blame for the experience. I often worked an eight-hour day on my herb books, and was working an eight-hour night shift job, while sleeping five hours. I often grabbed coffee and a hamburger before heading to my night job. Comfrey, horsetail, and cabbage juice cleared the ulcers up in two weeks and they didn't return.
    On one of my last visits to Stanford Library, I had an unusual dream. Time after time I wandered into a dark cave and dug into the debris on the floor. Each trip would result in wonderful arrowheads, stone knives and pottery. Then a mysterious man met me, and I offered to show him the treasures. I began to dig in the floor of the cave, but found it empty. I felt disappointed, so I looked up. Now glass windows had replaced the dark ceiling of the cave and beams of light were illuminating the cave. I knew that the dream was telling me that 20 years of work had ended, and now it was time to shed light on the treasures.
    I write about medical history, but am not a doctor or a practitioner. Many of the therapies written about are no longer practiced and I do not know of anyone who uses them. I shed light on obscure subjects, in hope that some practitioners will be interested in investigating forgotten or little known treatments. My writing makes no attempt to substitute or replace the advice of qualified medical professionals. Diagnosis and treatment cannot be learned without diligent study, and those with health problems should seek professional advice. All herbs should be used with proper caution by health professionals with experience in this area. I do not recommend anything, nor do I have anything to do with commercial interests. Most herbs are harmless, but there can be side effects, and an expert on medicine should be consulted.

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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