CSCH Roots – Unani Tibb, Culpeper, Thompson, Physiomedicalism

There’s a lineage of professional, physician-level
herbal medicine that comes up to us today, and that’s one of our roots in our program.
This goes back mainly to Egypt, then from Egypt up into classical Greece, then classical
Greece into Rome, then from Rome into Persia again, then traveled back through North Africa
and then came up into Spain. We’re talking 1200, 1300, 1400’s. From there it spread
out through Europe, all along being informed by local herbalism. This tradition kind of
settled today in India and Pakistan, where that word Unani-Tibb comes from. And pretty much literally that translates to ‘medicine of the Greeks.’ Which is one stop in the way of this circuitous pathway I just described The fun thing about that is, it came into
our more familiar world with Nicholas Culpeper. Who’s heard of him? He’s kind of a famous, really old-school herbalist. He was writing in the 1600’s in England You open his book – has anyone looked at Culpeper’s book? The first time you see it you’re like, what the heck is this guy talking about? Because he’s
like, ‘this herb is under the influence of Venus and is moist in the 3rd degree and warm in the 1st degree…’ And all this stuff and you’re like, what is he even talking about? This lineage brought the understanding of the energetics of the herbs up that way to Culpeper. Then it kind of
radiated over to North America when European folks came over here and mixed in with indigenous
North American medicine. Then it came up through this guy called Samuel Thompson. Has anyone heard of Samuel Thompson that hasn’t been to school here? Samuel Thompson was kind of a renegade. He was sort of like, gosh, I don’t know who I would compare him to today. He was kind of the rebel herbalist against the establishment physicians in the 1700’s in North America. There were a lot of people like that, but
he was the most famous one. He brought in cayenne, and lobelia, and he’s like “herbal
medicine is the people’s medicine! Just learn how to do it! You don’t have to go
to the university-trained doctor and get some mercury and have your blood taken out! Try the wisdom of nature (and all this cool stuff).” We actually study some of his writings here at school. Some of them are a little weird, some of them are gold, and everything in between.
But this tradition comes up through Thompson, and then a school of physicians arose in North
America, called the Physiomedicalists. The Physiomedicalists were sort of like naturopathic
physicians today, except they were more herbalists. The Physiomedicalists were active in this country in like, 1850’s, or earlier than that actually. like 1840’s late 1830’s up until
it was made illegal in 1911 and they closed down their schools. Then they kind of slow-simmered
underground, until now. We’re like, ‘hey, Physiomedicalists! They were awesome!’ So we use their Materia Medicas, their therapeutics books, and some of their case histories So this is another root in our program. What’s really cool about that is they were very interested in physiology (hence the name Physio-medicalist), so they wrote all this super-interesting stuff about the intersection between herbs and human physiology that you really don’t find anywhere else. You can even download some of these if you go to Paul Bergner’s website Which is And just search around on William Cook or Physiomedicalists, and you can download – they’re all in PDFs now And at first you’re like “what?” because it’s 19th century language, and some of the terms are unfamiliar, so it takes a lot of getting in the swing of reading them. But once you do, you’re like, “oh my gosh, this is the gold.” I so love it so much. For instance, the word diffusive – which I think I might have dropped earlier. You’re like, “what is that?” That’s an energetic word that the Physiomedicalists really promoted and what it means is, okay, shut your eyes for a second. And imagine you’re drinking a strong cup of ginger tea. How does your face feel? (audience): scrunched (audience): the tingling flowing through You’re drinking that hot, ginger tea… how does your face feel? You know? So, a lot of people talk about ginger and they say it’s a circulatory stimulant. Right? What Cook would call it … he would be saying, it’s a stimulating, diffusive, diaphoretic. Which means, the same thing, only more subtle. Which means, you drink it, and your body goes “Hey!”, and your face gets warm, right? It’s like when you eat cayenne. Your face gets really warm. And, I love this: diaphoretic means it brings heat up from deep to the surface And diffusive means, the effect of it rapidly spreads throughout the body. It means a few things, but that’s one of them.

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