Control of Pharmaceutical Activities and Taking Inventory of Medicinal Plants

From the very outset, when the first pharmacies were established in Sweden, there were regulations governing their operations. This control took the form of inspections, that is, visits from qualified individuals certified for this purpose. They were solemn occasions. Linnaeus’ inspection of the Academy Pharmacy in Uppsala (1741) was attended by the members of the faculty, the county governor, the university vice chancellor and secretary, and the mayor of the city. Linnaeus was the unquestioned authority in this context. His works (Systema Naturae 1735, Genera Plantarum 1737, Upsats på de medicinalväxter som i Apotheken bevaras och hos oss i fäderneslandet växa (Essay on the medicinal plants kept by apothecaries and growing in the country of our fathers) 1741, Materia Medica 1749, Philosophia botanica 1751, Species Plantarum 1753, Plantae officinales 1753) were indeed weighty textbooks in the field. Also important were the journeys Linnaeus had undertaken in the country to take inventory of the prevalence of plants that could be used for the preparation of medicines. During the 1740s this was a pressing issue in parliament, which had also allocated funding for Linnaeus’ inventories. Linnaeus had also submitted to the Academy of Sciences a compilation of the plants found at pharmacies (see above “Upsats på de medicinalväxter…” 1741), and in 1753 a dissertation appeared, “Plantae officinalis,” dealing with the question of how to make it possible to cultivate medicinal plants. Though only to a limited extent, medicinal plants had in fact been cultivated by an interested apothecary (J.Ferber, in Agerum outside of Karlskrona, had a garden of eight acres in 1711, where a great many of the plants were medicinally useful). In 1739 400 different plants were cultivated and, with the assistance of Linnaeus, were placed on a list (Hortus agerumensis). But it was only under the influence of Linnaeus that more substantial domestic cultivation got underway, enabling the country to produce a major portion of the medicinal plants it needed in the 18th century.

Last modified: 2022-02-16