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Vesalius. 1997 Dec;3(2):95-105.

The devil's apples.


The magic of the Mandrake grew with the passage of time. Elusive in its origins, where its associations lay with the age-long mysteries of love, its potency lingers on through the medicine of the Middle Ages, then beyond the Renaissance to find an historical mention even in the mid twentieth century physicians' vade mecum, Martindale's Extra Pharmacopoeia. But before it is stripped of its more dramatic pretensions to stand revealed, there are romantic byways to explore, where it has played a role as powerful as its pharmacological properties; and these are real enough. Its nature is of the essence of mediaeval medicine. Its first secrets were those of love and fecundity and sleep. Sterile marriages were anathema to the Jews. What better authority to search for the means of their correction could be found than in The Bible itself, which records the success of the Mandrake in promoting fertility, when every other subterfuge had been exhausted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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