Nicholas Culpeper – Botanist

Today we celebrate the birthday of English botanist, apothecary, physician and astrologer, Nicholas Culpeper. Born on this day in 1616.

He is considered to be one of the most influential writers of herbal knowledge.

Nicholas Culpeper believed medicine should be for the general public rather than as a commercial secret of the elite. He translated and published self-help medical guides from Latin into easier to understand “vernacular” in order to make them accessible for everyone. He believed in the universal availability of nature’s medicine.

Culpeper suggested cheap herbal remedies as opposed to expensive concoctions of fellow apothecaries – further incensing his contemporaries.

His main work, ‘The English Physician’, was deliberately sold very inexpensively, eventually becoming available as far afield as America. It has been in print continuously since the 17th century.

Culpeper’s aim was to reform the system of medicine by questioning traditional methods of the time and exploring new herbal solutions for illness. His use of herbals was a key development in the evolution of modern pharmaceuticals.

He was one of the best-known astrological botanists of his time and paired plants and diseases with planetary influences.

His translations and use of herbals had an extensive impact on medicine in early North American colonies and beyond. His radical views of the time paved the way in making herbal medicine available to all who needed them.

“The Herbs ought to be distilled when they are in their greatest vigor, and so ought the Flowers also.” ~ Nicholas Culpeper

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