Abstract Detail


Vago, Emily [1], Buchanan, Ashley [2], Krakos, Kyra N. [1].

An ethnobotanical study of a recipe to treat Pleurisy “Bad Breast” from 17th century Medici records.

This research is part of the historical ethno-botanical project focusing on the medicinal plants of the Medici family, who ruled Tuscany, Italy during the Renaissance. The last lineal descendant of the Medici family, Princess Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (1667-1743), used her family’s pharmaceutical knowledge as a political tool, and recorded a collection of 200 recipes. The recipes were translated as part of a collaboration with the Medici Archives and the Missouri Botanical Garden. One of her recipes consisted of a method to treat pleurisy; this study analyzes this recipe along with the historical uses, biochemistry, and transfer of knowledge of some of the ingredients involved. Viola odorata, the focal species of this recipe and Adiantum capillus-veneris, also known as the maidenhair fern, have been used as anti-inflammatory agents for centuries, reducing respiratory and chest discomfort. V. odorata contains twenty-five known biologically active compounds; including methanol and chloroform extracts which have been shown to exhibit antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Pearmain, an ancient type of English apple involved a syrup extract that was historically used to treat colds. V. odorata and A. capillus-veneris are European natives and were used in local folk medicine in Italy. The biochemistry of these plants suggests that it may have been effective in treating or reducing the symptoms of pleurisy.

1 - Maryville University, 650 Maryville University Dr., St. Louis, MO, 63141, United States
2 - Folger Institute, 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, D.C, 20003, United States


Presentation Type: Poster
Number: PET006
Abstract ID:372
Candidate for Awards:None

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