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A preliminary warning

This article contains a wealth of information about medicines discovered and developed over the past 3000 years. Our ancestors were closer to the natural world than we are today and more in tune with their immediate environment. They would have grown many of the plants and herbs required for remedies, or at least known where to find them. Today, most of our medicines come in bottles, vials, jars, blister packs, tubes, sprays or some other convenient package. Even herbal remedies are pre-packaged for convenient and accurate dosage. Nevertheless, over 80% of medicines prescribed by doctors today are of plant origin including most of the `top 50' drugs. Plants heal, but in unskilled hands they can also be very dangerous. We strongly advise against attempts to re-create any of the remedies mentioned in this article. We additionally warn against using herbal remedies with prescribed medicines without professional advice.

Minoan medicines

The fertile, mountainous island of *Crete, which separates the Aegean from the Mediterranean Sea, developed a sophisticated civilisation from about 2500 BCE. This has been named *Minoan, after Minos, the legendary king of Knossos, the island's most important city. Minoans made weapons and tools of copper and then bronze, built palaces for their rulers, and developed writing. They also established colonies on other Aegean islands such as Rhodes, Melos, Ceos, and Thera, as well as the mainland where *Mycenae became an important centre. Palace physicians and community healers used native plants to create their medicines as well as importing others from around the Eastern Mediterranean. Trade between Crete and Egypt flourished.

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Copyright Dr Carole Reeves