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Medicinal Food Plants

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The connection between diet and health is recognized by all human societies, and for many, healthful eating is a pivotal construct of their medical ideologies. How central a role food plays in disease prevention and therapeutics ranges along a continuum, one pole of which represents such indefinite notions as “healthy foods.” This is a feature of all cuisines, although which particular foods are so regarded varies with both place and time. Toward the other end of the continuum, more specific explanations of the healthful nature of foods are based both on physical characteristics or effects and on abstract qualities.

Among the abstractions that people apply in their assessment of medicinal foods are paradigms of binary opposition such as heating/cooling and wet/dry, representations of intangible qualities that are not related to actual thermal or hydrous states. These are expressions of health conceptualized as a balance between certain key qualities that can be mediated by diet. In...

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8756
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© 2008 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York

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Etkin, N.L. (2008). Medicinal Food Plants. In: Selin, H. (eds) Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_8756

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