“The Book of Simple Medicine and Plants” from “The Canon of Medicine”


Abū Alī al-Ḥusayn Ibn Sīnā (also known by the Latinized version of his name, Avicenna, 980–1037 AD; 370–428 AH) was a Muslim Persian polymath and the foremost physician and philosopher of his time. In his Introduction to the History of Science, the eminent historian of science George Sarton (1884–1956) characterized Ibn Sina as “one of the most famous exponents of Muslim universalism and an eminent figure in Islamic learning,” noting that “for a thousand years he has retained his original renown as one of the greatest thinkers and medical scholars in history.” Ibn Sina’s Al-Qānūn fī al-ṭibb (The canon of medicine) is his best known work. Summarizing the medical knowledge of the time and comprising five volumes, it is considered one of the great classics in the history of medicine. It was regarded as a medical authority as late as the early 19th century. According to Sarton, The Canon of Medicine contains “some of the most illuminating thoughts pertaining to distinction of mediastinitis from pleurisy; contagious nature of phthisis; distribution of diseases by water and soil; careful description of skin troubles; of sexual diseases and perversions; [and] of nervous ailments.” Presented here is Kitāb al-adwiyah al-mufradah wa al-nabātāt (The book of simple medicine and plants), the materia medica excerpt from Al-Qānūn fi al-ṭibb.

Last updated: May 11, 2015