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    Historians and pharmacists from Wrocław recreate Old Polish medicines

    Medical preparations and “medicines from an old Polish pharmacy” are recreated and analyzed in a joint project by researchers from the University of Wroclaw and the Medical University of Wroclaw. Recipes are found in diaries, letters, and private notes kept from the 16th to 18th centuries.

    Among the hits of Old Polish pharmacies is teriak, or driakiew, a multicomponent preparation widely regarded as an antidote to poisons (not uncontaminated by their contents), then a panacea for infectious diseases, and finally a remedy that works on the placebo effect.


    “The project is about the past, so our project naturally runs in the Historical Institute. However, research involve the analysis of these drugs does not fall within the remit of a historian, which is why in this area we are conducting fruitful cooperation with the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Medical University of Wrocław,” explains historian Jakub Węglorz.


    His task is to search historical sources for information about medicines used in the Old Polish era. Then, with a group of colleagues, the researcher recreates medications in the lab. The work is complemented by the analysis of the content of active compounds and the basic biological activity of the reconstructed medical preparations.


    “There are a lot such medications. Of course, not all were commonly used. Historians figure out their recipes, and then they and pharmacists try to translate them into modern language – to determine what the ingredient names mean and how they were made. The next step is to make the drug in the lab and analyze how it works,” describes Dr. Węglorz.


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