17th century text book
for medical practitioners

Elderberry, Traditional Remedy

This Handbook for medical practioners was written by Dr Martin Blochwich and first appeared as a collection of Latin manuscripts in 1644. Translated into English and German in 1655 and reprinted in 1677. The handbook was conceived as a reference guide for medical practioners who lived in the villages or countryside of Europe. It drew upon the existing traditional remedy works dating back to Pythagoras. Blochwich probably chose the elder tree for two reasons. Firstly, because its various components ( berries, flowers, stems, bark, roots and seeds) provided so many different recipes for treating so many illnesses. Secondly, the Elder Tree was one of the most commonly found trees in Europe.

The Handbook is divided into three sections, starting with botanical identification. The second section provides instructions for the preparation and making of recipes using the Elder. The third section provides recommended treatment for many illnesses that would respond to the elder recipes.

This is one of the earliest medical text books to be printed for educational purposes during a period in European history when witchcraft was still an offence and knowledge was still the protected right of the theologian, the rich and the powerful. The newly formed British Royal Society showed their progressiveness by recommending this book in 1677.