Plants and the Plague

The Herbal Frontline

by
Marcus Harrison

Publishing date, end January, 2015

Plants and The Plague - Plague of London 1665

By sheer coincidence Wild Food School celebrates 10 years of running foraging courses alongside the 350th anniversary of The Great Plague of London in 1665, and at the end of January Marcus Harrison's Plants and the Plague (a paperback reviewing the response of herbal medicine to plague from the 14th to 19th century), is being released.


The threat of the Black Death, and Great Plague of London in the 17th century may seem like a Age ago, but plague still lurks in some parts of the world even today...

As recently as November-December 2014 plague broke out on Madagascar, claiming about sixty lives, and in July 2014 the city of Yumen in the Chinese province of Gansu went into lock-down as a man died of bubonic plague after coming into contact with an infected marmot. Worldwide in 2013 there were 783 cases of plague, and 126 resultant deaths. It is thought that the Great Plague of London caused as many as 100,000 deaths. In the case of the Black Death the numbers across Europe reached into the millions.

Plague has gone down in history as one of the terrors of humanity, and if there was perhaps but one word to conjure fear in the minds of people centuries ago it would have been that of 'plague'. With no understanding of germ theory physicians could only attempt to deal with the visible symptoms of a plague attack and not overcome the bacterium at its' heart, Yersinia pestis, which can now be treated with antibiotics.

Herbal history in Plants and the Plague

Plants and the Plague looks at around three dozen plant species used in the herbal medicine response to plague and pestilence in past centuries. To help understand the use of the selected plants the book briefly looks at the clinical background to plague, past medical thinking on the subject, courses of treatment formerly used, while the text reviews numerous plague remedies that the plants found their way into. It is a story of superstition, tragedies of error, and faith in misguided medical precepts, but also one of incredible bravery on the part of those physicians and doctors who stayed behind to treat the afflicted and dying in the face of this killer disease which still haunts corners of the tropical and sub-tropical world, even now.

14th century vision of Hell - Plants and the Plague Plague Doctor - 17th century - Plants and the Plague

The text of Plants and the Plague quotes extensively from over a hundred contemporary herbal, medical and historical sources that reach as far back as the 14/15th centuries, and keeping as true to possible with the old herbal remedies and grammatical structure and style of the language where possible.

234 pages, A5 format paperback, B&W illustrations.
ISBN 978-0-9544158-9-1  |  RRP: £12.99 + Shipping


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