“The word “Toxin” (…) has a Persian Shamanic root (“taxsa” means “poisoned arrow”). The art and science of “the anti-dote against the poison” has a highly honored, special place in the Islamic healing arts.“
The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger, Black hellebore or Snow Flower, in Asia: Helleborus orientalis) is an evergreen perennial flowering plant that blooms in winter. It is considered a special plant with high mystical powers. According to European folk tales, the Christmas rose protects love, and is a symbol for a long and happy live. It was used as an aid against various illnesses since antiquity in Europe. It was also used since then as a repellent against malice and envy, and planted before door steps and stables. Like many protective talismanic plants it is very poisonous and highly ambigious.
The Asian variety of the Christmas rose, Helleborus orientalis, was used as medical aid against insanity, poisoning and epilepsy in Islamic healing. It is unclear how widely the more poisonous Helleborus niger was used. Some modern day healers re-discover the power of this plant and experiment with essences of Helleborus niger and orientalis to treat tumours, dementia, strokes and developmental delays in children. This experimental work is based on insights primarily gained in Islamic medicine.
The Oriental hellebore was the most dominant purgative and anti-toxin since antiquity, frequently prescribed for that purpose also by medical scholars in the Islamic world. It has also sedative qualities. Helleborus orientalis was also used to treat cancerous tumors, which were seen as symptoms of the poisoning of the humors (after Galenic medicine, the foundation of Islamic medicine). The word “Toxin” itself has a Persian Shamanic root (“taxsa” means “poisoned arrow” – a poisoned arrow is also a description for a curse). From Antiquity onwards, until the 19th century, a special brew was mixed which has it’s root in Arabia. Condisum was made from the marrow of Veratrum album (White Hellebore) and Helleborus niger (Black Hellebore). It was a very popular purgatory and widely used in Europe and Asia. It is a medicinal brew which has – like many medicines of the time – it’s origin in the Islamic healing arts,where the art and science of anti-dotes has a highly honored, special place. Particularly noteworthy for his contributions in this field is Abu Musa Dschābir ibn Hayyān (9th century AD) a famous alchemist, physican and Hermeticist. His book “Al Somum” (The Poisons) is considered to be the most detailed book on toxicology in the Islamic world.
A brief, yet comprehensive study on toxicology and cancer treatment in Islamic medicine can be found on this website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587862/
For over a millenium, plant motifs in the form of vines, leaves, flowers, fruits, and trees were most frequently used in the art of the Islamic world. Art was merged and expressed in the many facets of the healing arts as a supreme, divine form of artistry. Architecture, gardening, medicine, decorative arts, all were destined to merge into the “fine art of Islamic art”, that is to enlighten and heal the mind and spirit.
Traditionally, living creatures and humans are very rarely depicted in Islamic art. The key metaphysical justification is that Islamic art rather depicts the inner reality of phenomena with special focus on illumination and healing.
The inner reality of every plant and flower are structural – mathematical and molecular. But they are also a quinessential tale of beauty, expressed in scent, texture, colors and forms that struggle – with the aid of light – to emerge from darkness.