Besides these departments which deal with Botany as a science, there are various applications of botany, such as forestry (see FORESTS AND FORESTRY), agriculture (q.v.), horticulture, and materia medica (for use in medicine; see the separate articles on each plant).
The original substance of the world is the materia primo-prima, which is the immediate creation of the Deity.
As a medicinal agent the bamboo is entirely inert, and it has never been received into the European materia medica.
The materia medica of the Chinese at the present date affords an excellent illustration of the changes that have taken place in the use of drugs, and of the theories and superstitions that have guided the selection of these from the earliest ages, inasmuch as it still comprises articles that were formerly used in medicine, but have now been utterly discarded.
Lauder Brunton, Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Materia Medica (3rd ed., London, 1891); The Action of Medicines (London, 1897); H.
Regarding all substances as being composed of one primitive matter - the prima materia, and as owing their specific differences to the presence of different qualities imposed upon it, the alchemist hoped, by taking away these qualities, to obtain the prima materia itself, and then to get from it the particular substance he desired by the addition of the appropriate qualities.
The prima materia thus obtained had to be treated with sulphur (or with sulphur and arsenic) to confer upon it the desired qualities that were missing.
In works such as Pareira's Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics (1842), the physiological effects of medicines are usually described, but very briefly as compared with the materia medica.
On the death of Charles Alston in 1760, Cullen at the request of the students undertook to finish his course of lectures on materia medica; he delivered an entirely new course, which were published in an unauthorized edition in 1771, but which he re-wrote and issued as A Treatise on Materia Medica in 1789.
In the herbals and older treatises on materia medica and therapeutics no explanation is usually offered of the action of medicines, and in such works as that of Cullen (1789) only a few of the more obvious actions are occasionally explained according to the current theories of physiology and pathology.