The manuscript was bound in 16th century crimson velvet and is the earliest treatise on Mexican medicinal plants and native remedies which has ever come down to us. It is the work of two Aztec Indians, Martinus de la Cruz, a native physician who composed the work in Aztec, and another Indian, Juannes Badianus, who translated the text into Latin. Therefore there was no professional bias. Already Hernandez, whose great book is a mine of information on Aztec materia medica, had the tendency to project European views into the subject.
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The manuscript was bound in 16th century crimson velvet and is the earliest treatise on Mexican medicinal plants and native remedies which has ever come down to us. It is the work of two Aztec Indians, Martinus de la Cruz, a native physician who composed the work in Aztec, and another Indian, Juannes Badianus, who translated the text into Latin.
Therefore there was no professional bias. Already Hernandez, whose great book is a mine of information on Aztec materia medica, had the tendency to project European views into the subject.
The same applies still more to such writers as Juan de Cardenas, who attempted to interpret the New World in terms of Aristotelian philosophy. The Badianus manuscript is an herbal. It therefore deals with the pharmacological treatment of diseases; it is not concerned with surgery.
Soon after the Conquest they built hospitals and schools for the Indians. The Spaniards imposed their religion upon the Aztecs but allowed them to practice their own medicine and even allowed Aztec medicine to be taught in the colleges. Moreover, since the manuscript is illustrated with pictures, which in many cases are very helpful in identifying the plants, the manuscript is a valuable source of Aztec lexicography.
The native doctors experimented with the plants in the gardens of the Montezuma and the lords of Texcoco. Later, Francisco Hernandez endeavored experimentally in to check the reputed uses of the plants he found in the gardens of the Convent of Huaxtepec and other hospitals. Of the hundreds of plants known to the Aztecs and referred to by Hernandez comparatively few are known botanically and from these a smaller number have found their way into our modern pharmacopoeias. In bone setting, in operations, in making incisions as well as relieving painful bruises and other injuries, pain relieving remedies were applied externally or combined in potions to be taken internally.
The Aztecs referred to various species by specific native names, tlapatl Datura stramonium ; toloatzin Datura innoxia and nexehuac Datura ceratocaula. The juice of cocoxihuitl Baccconia arborea S. The oils of these substances serve as antiseptics and since they are also of mildly irritant nature are believed to stimulate repair of wounds and ulcerated areas.
Since the balsam are referred to as incense in the Badianus manuscript it is possible that the red and white varieties may have been obtained from this tree. In the Badianus manuscript white incense was applied to the temple in the treatment of the eye and as a salve for water blisters. White incense was also used with the extract of xachiocotzotl Liquidambar styraciflua L. In addition a variety of incense was used externally to relieve roughness of the skin, to anoint the body of one struck by lightning and to reduce swelling.
The juice of the Begonia balmisiana is used with other remedies in the cure for dandruff and in a postoperative treatment for the eye. The use of the Agave and the oil of the fig Ficus were also frequently employed in treatment of wounds. A number of the plants used apparently as astringents have been identified, but the majority are known only by their Aztec names.
In the Badianus manuscript there is a reference to a Commelina called Matalxochitl blue flower and is used in a lotion for the face, and another species of Commelina Cacamatlalin was used as a treatment for constipation. Purgative remedies known to the Aztecs, as tlanoquiloni consisted principally of the extracts of roots, and seeds- of which a few have been identified botanically. Some of these have been extensively used and are still in use today. The best known of these roots and one which was quickly introduced to Europe by the early traders of Mexican commodities was the Michoacan root.
Monardes has given a detailed account of this root, its use as a purgative, and its extensive importation to Europe. The use of this emetic extract serves several functions: to force open the jaw when a swollen condition of the cheeks and throat made the action voluntarily impossible; to relieve painful oppression of the chest; in the treatment of epilepsy; and for mental stupor.
In addition a sort of bitter water was given to produce vomiting in the treatment of certain helminthic afflictions. Many of these were believed to have magical as well as therapeutic value, and a number were taken to Europe and became incorporated into the pharmacopoeias of the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Crystals were used in the Badianus manuscript in the application for fractures and in various potions. A purple crystal was used in a potion for sore eyes while a purple amethyst by the Aztec name of tlapaltehuitatl was noted that it was used to strengthen the kidney and liver.
BADIANUS MANUSCRIPT PDF
Over thousands of years, the people of North and South Americans accumulated a vast store of botanical and medical knowledge, a fact that surprised many European explorers when they began their conquest of the Americas in the sixteenth century. In , during the early years of Spanish rule in Mexico, two Native American students at the College of Santa Cruz in Tlaltilulco, Martinus de la Cruz and Juannes Badianus , compiled a list of herbs that had been used as medicines for centuries by the Aztecs. Martinus wrote, and probably illustrated, the original Aztec text, and Badianus translated the work into Latin. For Nose Bleeds Atzitzicaztli, Urtica chichicaztli Water nettle The juice of nettles, ground with salt in urine and milk, poured into the nostrils stops the flow of blood from the nose. The Mayans used the juice of nettles to treat nosebleeds. References to the use of nettles are found in the earliest pharmacopoeias of Europe. For Injured Body Cortez and other Spanish explorers referred to the skill of Aztec doctors in treating cuts and bruises.
Badianus Manuscript: An Aztec Herbal, 1552
Mendoza sent the Latin manuscript to Spain, where it was deposited into the royal library. There it presumably remained until the early 17th century, when it somehow came into the possession of Diego de Cortavila y Sanabria, pharmacist to King Philip IV. From Cortavila it travelled to the Italian Cardinal Francesco Barberini , possibly via intermediate owners. The manuscript remained in the Barberini library until , when the Barberini library became part of the Vatican Library , and the manuscript along with it. There are several published editions of the manuscript, beginning with the one by William E.