Article : On the first book of medicinal plants written in the American Continent: The Libellus Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis from Mexico, 1552. A review


  • Reyes-Chilpa, Ricardo
  • Guzmán Gutiérrez, Silvia Laura
  • Campos-Lara, María
  • Ezra Bejar


The “Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis” (Little Book of Indian Medicinal Plants) was composed by the indigenous sages Martín De la Cruz and Juan Badiano, 31 years after the Aztec Empire fall. The former was the author, and the latter translated the manuscript from the Nahuatllanguage to Latin. It contains numerous recipes for treating human diseases and 185 colored drawings of the prescribed plants. In 1939 it was first published as “An Aztec Herbarium”. However, it also contains XVI century European diseases and medical practices. We present an updated review of this beautiful codex, its history, conception, creators, and botany; as well as, the chemistry and pharmacology of fiveplants therein cited. The Libellusis a window in the time that allows the scientific research of ancient ethnopharmacological knowledge in Mesoamerica and document its persistence, disappearance, or transformation. However, this requires overcoming linguistic defies, but also derived from its historical, anthropological, cultural, botanical, and medical context.

Références bibliographiques

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de la valorisation et des données de la recherche > Coordination de la recherche > Délégation à la Stratégie et à la recherche > Bibliothèque nationale de France

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