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In Crocologia – A Detailed Study of Saffron, the King of Plants, Sally Francis and Maria Teresa Ramandi present the first translation into English of Johann Ferdinand Hertodt’s seminal 1671 work Crocologia, a book uniquely devoted to the medical uses of saffron. Hertodt discusses saffron’s origin, related species, cultivation, selection, properties and lists all its pharmaceutical preparations. Hertodt then journeys through diseases of the human body, presenting saffron-containing formulae for their treatment.

The two authors complement the translation with a biography of Hertodt, and detail saffron’s botany, current production, uses, its changing reputation as a drug, and review findings from new medical research. There is a full Glossary, and translation of a contemporary approbation of Crocologia by Hertodt’s rival, Wenzel Maximilian Ardensbach.
Author: Tawni Tidwell


Collaborative research on Tibetan medicine for conditions difficult to treat by Euroamerican biomedicine, such as many intractable types of cancer, has developed in recent years due to treatment outcomes and growing patient interest. In these collaborations, more nuanced analyses of how one medical tradition’s etiology maps onto the other are required for productive dialogue and sophisticated research methodologies. Building on earlier work that provides the initial etiologic and diagnostic mapping of biomedical cancer onto Tibetan medical nosology, this article develops a further analytical dimension by describing the specific etiologic role of blood (Tib. khrag) and chuser (Tib. chu ser), as well as their specific ontological characterizations in Sowa Rigpa more generally. The Four Treatises and its commentaries elucidate a unique perspective on these substances as implemented in clinical praxis. This analysis furthers work to disentangle contemporary Tibetan medical and biomedical paradigms by highlighting therapeutic and investigative distinctions for cancer and research collaborations more broadly.

In: Asian Medicine


This paper uses the body politic metaphor to explore the dialectic of power between different political players in communal and post-communal Lombardy. On the one hand, notions of corporeal links, drawing upon an ancient and venerable tradition, were key strands of public debate on state formation in the Late Middle Ages. On the other hand, there were distinctively communal and post-communal discourses based upon the body politic metaphor. My purpose is to investigate all of these aspects through analysis of the so-called “pragmatic writings” (such as letters, decrees, notarial deeds), sources usually overlooked by historians of political thought. As is shown in this paper, the novelty of this approach makes it possible to appreciate corporeal metaphors as performative tools and instruments of political action.

In: Early Science and Medicine
Author: Marin Terpstra


In this article, using Spinoza’s treatment of the image of the political body, I aim to show what happens to the concept of a healthy commonwealth linked to a monarchist model of political order when transformed into a new context: the emergence of a democratic political order. The traditional representation of the body politic becomes problematic when people, understood as individual natural bodies, are taken as the starting point in political theory. Spinoza’s understanding of the composite body, and the assumption that each body is composed, raises the question of the stability or instability of this composition. This has implications for the way one looks at the political order’s conditions of possibility, I argue, and at the same time reveals the imaginary nature of the political body.

In: Early Science and Medicine