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Pedanius Dioscorides was an ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist who was famous for writing his five volume work De Materia Medica. In the 2nd century BCE, Dioscorides noted, "Lead makes the mind give way."

Toxicological Perspective

Dioscorides' magnum opus De Materia Medica had a tremendous impact on toxicology. He identified the pharmacological properties, remedial effects, and structural makeup (as best he could) of over one hundred plants previously unknown to Roman and Greek physicians. He also discussed over 500 known plants that were most likely discovered during Alexander the Great's military conquests.

Up until the 17th century, Dioscorides was the ultimate source on remedial herbs and plant pharmacology. A translated version was reprinted in 1933 and is still a valuable source of information on different naturally occurring remedies.


Dioscorides was an ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist who practiced in Rome at the times of Nero. He had the opportunity to travel extensively, seeking medicinal substances from all over the Roman and Greek world.

He gained fame for writing his five-volume work De Materia Medicina. The book, in addition to becoming one of the most influential works on herbal use in history, became a precursor to all modern pharmacopoeias. In it, Dioscorides catalogs the different herbs and techniques used by the Greeks, Romans, and other cultures he studied. The book remained the cardinal source for information on herbal medicine until 1600.

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