American Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology

A Modern Appraisal of Ancient Etruscan Herbal Practices

A. P. Harrison and E. M. Bartels

DOI : 10.3844/ajptsp.2006.26.29

American Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Volume 1, Issue 2

Pages 26-29


Individuals in antiquity would have been exposed to both cheese and red wine and perhaps as many as 10-40% of the population would have suffered at some time in their life from a migraine headache. Furthermore, individuals in antiquity would also have been exposed to their fair share of childhood stress and therefore would have been predisposed to arthritis in later life. However, it is perhaps more likely that rheumatoid arthritis occurred in ancient populations as a result of joint damage occurring from repetitive tasks such as milling grain, preparing hides etc. Finally, many of the symptoms treatable by the “Etruscan Herbal” would have been seen among those working with copper smelting and in view of the famous bronze work of the Etruscans, perhaps this herbal was directed more towards improving their health, rather than towards more ritual and magical practices. However, it is noteworthy that the “Etruscan Herbal” contains such plants as valerian and henbane, which with regard to their hypnotic and delirium-easing effects, respectively, may have been used in a more ritual and magical way by ancient herbalists and societies throughout the ancient Mediterranean. Without a doubt though, the application of the combined knowledge of the “Etruscan herbal” and its possible physiological effects, raises the issue of the importance of ancient treatments in today’s society, particularly since we are still plagued by many of the same ailments as the ancient Etruscans.


© 2006 A. P. Harrison and E. M. Bartels. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.