Anyone who knows me, or knows of the Pure Jeevan site I created many years ago, understands how passionate I am about health and natural living. A key part of staying healthy, vibrant, and energetic is eating a natural diet. The WorldArtGypsy (Gypsy Ardor) site is about travel and art, but healthy living and eating is a key part of this site, also, because without a strong foundattion rooted in whole foods, I'd never have the energy to travel and learn about art all over the world!

When I found out there was a museum dedicated to the history of medicine, I was thrilled! I knew it would highlight natural could it not?! Plants were our first healers! For me, they're still my first choice for any illnesses I, or my friends or family, may develop. I knew it would be the first museum I searched out, and there it was...right near my first apartment! 


The Museu da Farmacia (Pharmacy Museum) has been around since 1996 in Lisbon, preserving not only the history of medicine in Portugal, but also medicines that have been used all over the world for as far back in history as can be found! The museum is split into two separate levels: first floor is dedicated to Portuguese Pharmacy, second floor is for World Pharmacy.

Portuguese Pharmacy
Portuguese Pharmacy Counter
Portuguese Pharmacy

It's fascinating to view the displays, which include reproductions of some Portuguese pharmacies from the late fifteenth century to the present day. There was even a recreation of a traditional Chinese pharmacy from the late nineteenth centure, which was absolutely beautiful. 

Mostly Natural Medicines
Drug Making Laboratory, 1920
Drug Making Laboratory

As I knew would be the case, the earliest pharmacies showed garden plots with plants growing and harvested plants hanging to dry to later be used as medicine. All medicines were natural, and plant based. As time progressed, the essence of the plants were extracted as concentrated oils and the whole plant was no longer used. With the passage of even more time, laboratories were created to reproduce man-made medicines to emulate the plant-based ones used in the past, allowing for faster (and mass) production.

Unguentariums, 4th-5th Century (Used for ointments and fragrance oils, suspended in a room)
Medicine Containers
Medicine Containers and Mortar and Pestle for Grinding Medicine

The World Pharmacy floor showed a similar progression of medicine. However, also included were instances of folk medicine, medical "quackery" items from the 17th and 18th centuries, ancient books of medicine, and more. Below are some photos of those items.

Mystical Being to Hold Disease, Mexico, 700 AD
Magical Unicorn Horn Medicine (Narwhal Tooth, Used as Decoration and "Magical Medicine")
Chastity Belt, 17th-18th Centuries
Chastity Belt, 17th-18th Centuries
Vibrator and Elictrical Shock Equipments for Female Hysteria Treatment, 17th-18th Centuries
Vibrator and Elictrical Shock Equipments for Female Hysteria Treatment, 17th-18th Centuries
Vibrator and Elictrical Shock Equipments for Female Hysteria Treatment, 17th-18th Centuries
"Hortus Sanitatas" by Jacob Meyenback de Mainz, 16th Century. This Encyclopedia attempts to compile all plants, animals and minerals with medicinal properties. It includes the Tree of Paradise, Harpies, Centaurs, Unicorns, and Mermaids.
The Canon of Medicine, by Ibn Sina (980-1037). The first encyclopedia of medicine, with this volume dedicated to pharmacy, inlcuding a list of therapeutic substances, treatises on poisons, and a list of medicinal recipes.

A very interesting item I saw was an ornate cup and a "Goa Stone."

Ornate Cup with Goa Stone, 17th Century

The Goa Stone was supposedly a secret medicine from Portuguese Jesuit apothecaries. This particular bezoar stone (anyone who read the "Harry Potter" novels should recognize the word "bezoar") is said to be man-made, consisting of bezoar stone paste, clay, iodine, shells, amber, musk, resin, and sometimes narwhal tooth, precious stones, pearls, and coral. Bezoar stones were used as an antidote for poison, and were often seen to also have magical healing properties. 

Secret Hollowed Out Book Holding POISON! (1682)

Another interesting item I saw was a secret hollowed-out book that hid poisons! On a glass bottle was an inscription in Latin that meant, "I tis well established that men once die." The hollowed-out book was from the year 1682 and was darkly interesting!

Below are some other interesting items included in the exhibits at the Musu da Farmacia:

Study of a Pregnant Body
Surgical Instruments
Asian Female Figurine (used to modestly show a doctor where pain/issues are in the body)
Perfume Case of Sir Walter Raleigh, 1554-1618. he ctontributed to the diffusion of plants in Europe from the New World.


Protective Clothing Worn by Doctors During the Plague (Creepy to enter the exhibit and have this standing there!)