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Making Early Modern Medicine: Reproducing Swedish Bitters
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas, History of Science. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Division of Pharmacognosy. (Hjalmar Fors och Nils-Otto Ahnfelt)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas, History of Science. Hagströmer Library, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
2016 (English)In: Ambix, ISSN 0002-6980, E-ISSN 1745-8234, Vol. 63, no 2, 162-183 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Historians of science and medicine have rarely applied themselves to reproducing the experiments and practices of medicine and pharmacy. This paper delineates our efforts to reproduce "Swedish Bitters," an early modern composite medicine in wide European use from the 1730s to the present. In its original formulation, it was made from seven medicinal simples: aloe, rhubarb, saffron, myrrh, gentian, zedoary and agarikon. These were mixed in alcohol together with some theriac, a composite medicine of classical origin. The paper delineates the compositional history of Swedish Bitters and the medical rationale underlying its composition. It also describes how we go about to reproduce the medicine in a laboratory using early modern pharmaceutical methods, and analyse it using contemporary methods of pharmaceutical chemistry. Our aim is twofold: first, to show how reproducing medicines may provide a path towards a deeper understanding of the role of sensual and practical knowledge in the wider context of early modern medical culture; and second, how it may yield interesting results from the point of view of contemporary pharmaceutical science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2016. Vol. 63, no 2, 162-183 p.
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-305776DOI: 10.1080/00026980.2016.1212886ISI: 000385421400005PubMedID: 27603304OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-305776DiVA: diva2:1039145
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P14-0715:1
Available from: 2016-10-21 Created: 2016-10-21 Last updated: 2016-11-30Bibliographically approved

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