The Effect and Use of Medicines (Materia medica, Clavis Medicinæ)

Besides a system of diseases, Linnaeus also set up a catalogue of the properties of medicines. He divided medicines by taste (tasteless, sharp, bitter) and by smell (pleasant and strong). He maintained that the former affect the fibrous system, whereas those that smell, that is, aromatic substances, have an impact on the nervous system.

Clavis Medicinæ is a book on systematizing medicine and is
regarded as perhaps the most influential of Linnaeus’ writings
in the field of medicine.
Source: Carl von Linnés betydelse såsom naturforskare och
läkare. Skildringar utgifna af Kungl. Svenska Vetenskapsak-
ademien i anledning af tvåhundraårsdagen af Linnés födelse 
(Carl Linnaeus’ importance as a natural scientist and physician.
Accounts published by the Royal Swedish Academy of
Sciences on the occasion of the bicentenary of Linnaeus’ birth).
Almquist&Wiksell, 19077

Substances are divided into classes and orders, and within each order compounds are collected primarily from the plant kingdom. This is accounted for by the candidate J. T. Fagraeus in the 1758 dissertation ”Strong-smelling Medicines.” The publication Materia medica (1733) and the dissertation ”Observations in Materia medica” (1772) provide an inventory of plants that are used for medicinal purposes. The compilation takes up facts about their use and effects. The information had been gathered from a number of countries outside of Europe. The plants are given with their genus and their trivial names.

Last modified: 2022-02-16