Nicholas Culpeper, Culpeper's English Physician

Nicholas Culpeper (1616–1664).
Culpeper’s English Physician; and Complete Herbal.
London: Printed for the Proprietors, and Sold by C. Stalker, 1790. (BRC0012)

Culpeper studied at Cambridge and developed his knowledge of medicine through reading and serving apprenticeships with different apothecaries. In 1640 he began his career as a physician-astrologer, a not uncommon branch of medicine at the time. In addition to his own successful practice, he also translated into English several scientific works and the standard Latin pharmacopoeia. Although harshly criticized by the medical establishment for providing access to remedies in the vernacular, his guide to pharmaceuticals and their herbal sources became extremely popular. The work appeared in numerous editions in England and America, and continued to be enlarged after the author’s death.

This London 1790 edition, comprising two volumes issued together and illustrated with forty engraved plates, was edited by the physician-astrologer Ebenezer Sibly (1751–1800). The first part is devoted to herbs and their “medicinal and occult properties, physically applied to the cure of all disorders incident to mankind.” Instructions for “compounding medicine according to the true system of nature, forming a complete family dispensatory, and natural system of physic” and plates of more than four hundred different plants were included. The second part comprises descriptions of the human body, treatments for a variety of diseases, and a selection of prescriptions. Engravings in this part include anatomical figures and separate plates for men and women illustrating “the celestial influx on the human frame.”

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Natural History
Nicholas Culpeper, Culpeper's English Physician