A Medieval Health Handbook

The Tacuinum Sanitatis is a medieval handbook on Health and Well Being. First printed in Europe in 1531, it was aimed at an educated secular readership and offered concise and sensible advice on how to live a long, healthy and enjoyable life.

The Latin text describes in detail the beneficial and harmful properties of plants and foodstuffs, as well as considering social, physiological and psychological aspects of wellness. Following established medieval principles, it sets forth essential elements for mental and physical well-being.Interestingly, the Medieval European Tacuinum is based on an earlier Arabic work, the Taqwim al‑sihha تقويم الصحة  or ‘Maintenance of Health', an eleventh-century Arab medical treatise by Ibn Butlan, a Christian physician of the Abbasid Period who practiced in 11th century Baghdad. Ibn Butlan‘s Maintenance of Health deals with matters of hygiene, dietetics, and exercise, emphasizing the benefits of regular attention to personal physical and mental well-being. Still more fascinating, Ibn Butlan‘s study rests in large part on the seminal work of the 1st century CE Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist Dioscorides, author of De Materia Medica, a five volume encyclopedia and pharmacopeia examining in detail the medicinal properties of herbs, plants, vegetables and other foodstuffs that was written in Asia Minor between 50 and 70 CE.

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