Herbal Medicine: Back to the Future

Volume: 4

Herbal Medicine in Russia’s History: The Use of Herbal Medicine for Infectious Diseases in Russia’s History

Author(s): Mary Schaeffer Conroy * .

Pp: 90-127 (38)

DOI: 10.2174/9789811458712120040006

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The pandemic of COVID-19 is a grim reminder of the fact that viruses can be very contagious and that devising a vaccine and treatments against a viral disease is difficult and time-consuming. Our ancestors grappled with this problem for some infectious diseases until the late 19th century—and for others into the late 20th century. The chief weapons against infectious diseases were soap, disinfectants, isolation and quarantine, destruction of tainted items, and application of botanicals for symptoms of the viral diseases. This chapter describes Russians’ multi-millennia experiences in treating infectious diseases with botanicals—from their earliest recorded history down to the present. The chapter is based on Russian-language sources—for the early period on information from chronicles and herbals recorded by Russian medical historians and for the modern period based on my personal research into pharmaceutical books and journal articles, interviews, and case records of practicing phytotherapists and healers.

Keywords: Anthrax, Botanical Research, Cholera, Epidemics, First World War, Herbals, Infectious Diseases, Narodnaia Meditsina Viruses, Post-Soviet Russia: Chronicles, Phytotherapy, Russia, Soviet Union, Smallpox, Second World War, Typhus, Typhoid.

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