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A Journal on Dermatology

Journal of Istituto Dermatologico San Gallicano
Official Journal of the Associazione Dermatologi Ospedalieri Italiani - A.D.O.I.
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Esperienze Dermatologiche - DERMATOLOGICAL EXPERIENCES 2009 June;11(2):93-100

language: Italian

Vegetal therapy and syphilis: historical notes

Di Stanislao C., Flati G., Salvatore G.

Unità Operativa Complessa di Dermatologia, Presidio Ospedaliero S. Salvatore, Azienda Unità Sanitaria Locale 04, L’Aquila


In addition to mercury, many herbal remedies have been used until the Twentieth century, for the treatment of that terrible scourge that was syphilis. Guaiac wood, Smilax aspera, Agave and Begonia were the main ones. The remedies were often combined with each other, but until the advent of penicillin, syphilis was incurable and a fatal disease. It can be said that the pestilential scourge of syphilis has been defeated only since 1957 (time of commercialization of penicillin), but it must be noticed that, in the previous five pre-antibiotic centuries, scholars had managed to greatly reduce the number and extension of cases, thanks to hygiene and prevention. This historical review is a tribute to all those who, over the centuries “oxen” and tried to fight the disease with natural remedies and to the empirical experience of a ethno-botanist.

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