A Comparative Study of Epiphytic Lichens Mentioned by Ibn Sina and Ibn Al-Baytar

Mustafa Yavuz

Abstract


Lichens are symbiotic organisms consisting in a mycobiont and at least a photobiont partner. Producing unique secondary metabolites, they have been used in medicine, pharmacy and dyeing from antiquity to modern times. The purpose of this study is to investigate and compare the uses of lichens in the medicinal works of Ibn Sina and Ibn al-Baytar in Arabic, based on the term used to describe epiphytic lichens. Two manuscripts of Ibn Sina and Ibn al-Baytar preserved at Suleymaniye Manuscript Library in Istanbul have been examined in order to make a comparison of the data in the chapter entitled Ushnah. In addition, contemporary studies have been consulted to illustrate contemporary knowledge of lichens and their therapeutic properties and uses. On the basis of a systematic comparison, it appears that both physicians mention lichens under two different terms, with one dedicated to saxicolous lichens and the other to epiphytic lichens, with more precise information on the latter.

 

Key words: Lichens - Medieval medicine - Ibn Sina - Ibn al-Baytar


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