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From beginnings as remote and simple as these came the proud profession of Pharmacy. Its development parallels that of man. Ancient man learned from instinct, from observation of birds and beasts. Cool water, a leaf, dirt, or mud was his first soothing application. By trial, he learned which served him best. Eventually, he applied his knowledge for the benefit of others. Though the cavemen's methods were crude, many of today's medicines spring from sources as simple and elementary as those which were within reach of early man.

Theophrastus (about 300 B.C.), among the greatest early Greek philosophers and natural scientists, is called the "father of botany." His observations and writings dealing with the medical qualities and peculiarities of herbs are unusually accurate, even in the light of present knowledge. He lectured to groups of students who walked about with him, learning of nature by observing her treasurers at firsthand. In his hands he holds a branch of belladonna. Behind him are pomegranate blooms, senna, and manuscript scrolls. Slabs of ivory, coated with colored beeswax, served the students as "slates." Writing was cut into the surface with a stylus.

Chinese Pharmacy, according to legend, stems from Shen Nung (about 2000 B.C.), emperor who sought out and investigated the medicinal value of several hundred herbs. He reputed to have tested many of them on himself, and to have written the first Pen T-Sao, or native herbal, recording 365 drugs. Still worshiped by native Chinese drug guilds as their patron god, Shen Nung conceivably examined many herbs, barks, and roots brought in from the fields, swamps, and woods that are still recognized in Pharmacy today. In the background is the "Pa Kua," a mathematical design symbolizing creation and life. Medicinal plants include podophyllum, rhubarb, ginseng, stramonium, cinnamon bark, and, in the boy's hand, ma huang, or Ephedra.

Babylon, jewel of ancient Mesopotamia, often called the cradle of civilization, provides the earliest known record of practice of the art of the apothecary. Practitioners of healing of this era (about 2600 B.C.) were priest, pharmacist and physician, all in one. Medical texts on clay tablets record first the symptoms of illness, the prescription and directions for compounding, then an invocation to the gods. Ancient Babylonian methods find counterpart in today's modern pharmaceutical, medical, and spiritual care of the sick.


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