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3349 - Matera medica, boticarios and the medicine trade in Lima in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries

Much has been written about the collection and dissemination of plants that were incorporated into European matera medica in the colonial period, but very little is known about the medicines that were traded and used in the New World at this time. Although the Spanish state attempted to regulate medical practice, which was dominated by humoral medicine, its power to do so was limited. As a result a form of medical pluralism emerged that drew on indigenous knowledge and practice and was reflected in the medicines that were used. Using archival evidence for the importation of medicines into Peru, as well as inventories of boticas found in hospital records and in the testaments of boticarios in notarial records, the paper examines the extent to which the matera medica used in Lima in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries incorporated products found in the Americas and were being used by local indigenous groups. It will show that complex medicines were normally imported from Europe and that many non-native herbs came to be grown locally. However, it will also show that New World products, especially resins, oils, minerals, were commonly employed in treatments, along with some herbs used by indigenous healers.

Keywords: medicine trade; boticarios; indigenous plants; humoral medicine; Peru

Author: Newson, Linda (King's College London, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)

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