Medical Herbalism: The Vital Breath
Abu Ali al-Husayn ibn Abd Allah ibn Sina is famous in the West as Avicenna, as one of the principal forefathers of modern medicine. Avicenna wrote within the masterpiece, the Canon of Medicine, that the human breath is in perfect balance with the cosmos and its harmony can absolutely never be the contrary of anything else, a concept that has been handed down by the Sufi mystical tradition of Islam. Such balance allows the breath to receive life and modify anything that opposes it, so much that its rays can be as luminous as the light of celestial beings. This is why divine Light is in harmony with the breath, while darkness is in discord with it.
The vital human breath resides in the heart and joy, sadness, fear, anger are its passions. A pleasant fragrance is delightful and is a cause of joy that can override anger. The more noble the character of the breath, the more luminous, expansive and celestial it becomes. Should there be grief, pleasure and delight can readily turn turn the tables.
In general, when the vital breath in the heart is abundant and constantly regenerated, the human temperament is balanced and happy. While the breath in the heart of convalescents, the elderly and the ill can become unstable, depressed, tender and sometimes confused. External causes of negative emotions affecting the vital breath are much easier to rectify than the constitutional ones that form the human temperament.
In 980 AD, Ibn Sina (better known by his latinised name as Avicenna) was born in the Persian town of Bukhara (Uzbekistan). He became physician in-chief at the hospital of Baghdad and personal physician to many Caliphs. Ibn Sina's success attracted the jealousy of rivals, which caused him to spend years in prison. In jail, he wrote the Kitab ash-shifa (the Book of Healing) and The Canon of Medicine.
Ibn Sina's works not only summarised medical knowledge from the Greeks, Romans and Arabs before him but also described hundreds of new plants and uses, the modern technique of distilling essential oils from delicate flowers, introduced the all-fruit diet as a cleansing process and accurate massage instructions with modern methods of manipulating bones, such as traction for broken limbs. These books were translated into Latin in the 12th century and brought European medical thought out of the Middle Ages into Renaissance in the XVI century.
The Family Medical Herbalist clinics are located in the London areas of Greenford, Ealing (close to Greenford tube on the Central Line) and in Central London in the Borough of Southwark (close to London Bridge station on the Jubilee Line).