Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Alchemical Medicine and Distillation

  • Laura SumrallEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_1086-1

Abstract

Alchemical medicine – often termed “chemiatra” or “iatrochemistry” – was a part of Renaissance chymistry that sought to purify the body into its most ideal state of health and, at its height of ambition, to extend human life indefinitely. To this end, alchemical physicians utilized distillation to produce medicaments from plant, mineral, and animal matter. Much like the chrysopoetic ambition to purify base metals into gold, distillation presented a potent means of purifying natural substances through the separation of subtle essences and medicinal waters from the impurities of gross matter.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Clericuzio, Antonio. 1993. From van Helmont to Boyle. A study of the transmission of Helmontian chemical and medical theories in seventeeth-century England. British Journal for the History of Science 26 (90): 303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Debus, Allen G. 1978. Man and nature in the renaissance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Debus, Allen G. 2001. Chemistry and medical debate: Van Helmont to Boerhaave. Canton: Science History Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Debus, Allen G. 2002. The chemical philosophy: Paracelsian science and medicine in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  5. Eamon, William. 1994. Science and the secrets of nature: Books of secrets in medieval and early modern culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Forbes, Robert J. 1970 (1948). Short history of the art of distillation. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  7. Grell, Ole Peter. 1996. Plague, prayer, and physic: Helmontian medicine in restoration England. In Religio medici: medicine and religion in seventeenth-century England, ed. Ole Peter Grell and Andrew Cunningham. Aldershot: Scolar Press.Google Scholar
  8. Moran, Bruce T. 1991. The alchemical world of the German court: Occult philosophy and chemical medicine in the circle of Moritz of Hessen, 1572–1632. Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag.Google Scholar
  9. Moran, Bruce T. 2005. Distilling knowledge: Alchemy, chemistry, and the scientific revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Multhauf, Robert P. 1966. The origins of chemistry. London: Oldbourne.Google Scholar
  11. Newman, William R. 2004. Promethean ambitions: Alchemy and the quest to perfect nature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Newman, William R., and Anthony Grafton, eds. 2001. Secrets of nature: Astrology and alchemy in early modern Europe. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Newman, William R., and Jābir ibn Ḥayyān. 1991. The summa perfectionis of Pseudo-Geber: A critical edition, translation and study. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  14. Newman, William R., and Lawrence M. Principe. 1998. Alchemy vs. chemistry: The etymological origins of a historiographic mistake. Early Science and Medicine 3 (1): 32–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Newman, William R., and Lawrence M. Principe. 2002. Alchemy tried in the fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the fate of Helmontian chymistry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pagel, Walter. 1958. Paracelsus: An introduction to philosophical medicine in the era of the renaissance. Basel: S. Karger.Google Scholar
  17. Pagel, Walter. 1982. Joan Baptista van Helmont: Reformer of science and medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Principe, Lawrence M. 2013. The secrets of alchemy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  19. Schneider, Wolfgang. 1972. Chemiatry and iatrochemistry. In Science, medicine, and society in the renaissance, ed. Allen G. Debus. New York: Science History Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Shackelford, Jole. 2004. A philosophical path for Paracelsian medicine: The ideas, intellectual context, and influence of Petrus Severinus, 1540–1602. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.Google Scholar
  21. Webster, Charles. 2008. Paracelsus: Medicine, magic and mission at the end of time. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Hiro Hirai
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the History of Philosophy and ScienceRadboud Universiteit NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands