Herbs in History


In an effort to preserve and share the fascinating histories of medicinal plants and herbs that have been used around the world for ages, the AHPA-ERB Foundation is honored to partner with Alain Touwaide, Ph.D., and Emanuela Appetiti of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions to tell the stories of Herbs in History.


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Alain Touwaide & Emanuela Appetiti

The researchers behind Herbs in History are partners in medicinal history and in life.

Born in Belgium to a family of pharmacists, Alain Touwaide began his journey into history while studying Classics at the University of Louvain in Belgium, where he delved into ancient Greek pharmaceutical texts and received his Ph.D. From there, he forged his unconventional path from classical studies to botanical, medicinal and pharmaceutical laboratories at universities and research centers around the world.

A world-renowned, trans-disciplinary scholar, Dr. Touwaide’s impressive CV includes posts as Visiting Professor at the University of Barcelona and at the National Research Foundation in Madrid, Spain; Research Fellow at the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies in Naples, Italy; Scholar in Residence at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland; and Historian of Sciences in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Touwaide’s lifelong and still ongoing quest to derive and disseminate the untapped therapeutic knowledge produced and preserved by ancient cultures culminated in 2007 with the founding of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions, where he serves as Scientific Director alongside his wife, Emanuela Appetiti, who leads the institute as President & CEO.

Born in Italy, Ms. Appetiti applied her fondness for sociology and anthropology from her youth into her pursuit of studying nomadic cultures with a focus on Australian Aborigines at the University of Rome where she earned a master’s degree. Her studies of Australia included contemporary issues – such as, among others, health matters of Aboriginal populations. Prior to meeting Dr. Touwaide, Ms. Appetiti delved into studying traditional Australian Aboriginal medicine.

Together, Ms. Appetiti and Dr. Touwaide research the history of medicine and pharmacy in the Mediterranean and travel the world – teaching, lecturing, doing research, and also searching for ancient manuscripts and medico-botanical texts previously unknown, in addition to accompanying ethnobotanists doing fieldwork to gain an understanding of contemporary traditional medicine as a key to interpret ancient traditions.

In 2016, Ms. Appetiti and Dr. Touwaide moved their research activity and the unique library they have assembled to the Huntington's Brody Botanical Center in Southern California, where they reside when not traveling. More recently, they left the Huntington and Southern California, and they are searching for a new institution for relocating their activity and collections and pursuing their research.

As stewards of history and the human relationship with plants, Ms. Appetiti and Dr. Touwaide have partnered with the AHPA-ERB Foundation to spotlight many of the medicinal plants that they have extensively researched for the Herbs in History project.

For more information about the authors and the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions, visit https://medicaltraditions.org/.

Photos courtesy of Alain Touwaide & Emanuela Appetiti.

The information presented herein represents the views and opinions of the original authors of the content and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. AHPA does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the content.