Apothecaries have been around for as long as mankind has used plants as medicine. Dioscorides’ De material medica (c. AD40-c.AD90) is the oldest known written documentation that has lead the way for many modern medical practices, including dispensing medication.
As far back as 754 AD, Baghdad has had apothecary shops. Europe had official medica supply stores in the 12th century. Today we call them pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies. You can find a Rite-Aid or CVS or similar store every couple of miles (or closer) in any given urban area.
The industrial revolution and many modern medical discoveries have given rise to the mass production of medications that are the purified and concentrated healing components found in plants. These marvels of the modern age, pills, make consuming medication much easier and more effective than having to drink gallons of a nasty tasting tea. Unfortunately, prescriptions and doctor visits have become quite expensive.
In the past decade a resurgence of self-reliance has taken hold in the general populace. Anyone can walk into Borders or Barnes & Noble and find hundreds of magazines and books on herbs and their medicinal attributes. Gardening and food networks on TV include such information as well. The internet is flooded with historical and modern reference material.
The growing “organic” and “homesteading” movements are lending to a renaissance of the ancient apothecary. As individuals, more people are growing their own herbs and foods as a healthier option to the processed, polluted and/or pesticide laden foods. Some grow their own “pharmacies” to compensate for the lack of affordable or effective healthcare in the United States.
Careers & Consumerism
Alternative health professionals such as Herbalists, Nutritionists, Homeopathic practitioners are gaining more recognition as more people seek alternatives to western medical treatments for their illnesses.
Seeing the shift in consumers tastes, business owners are changing their products or adding products that haven’t been available for mass consumption for decades or even centuries. Stores like Zerbo’s Health Foods in Livonia, MI on Plymouth Rd has been a modern apothecary shop since 1958. It began as a “tiny vitamin shop” and has grown into a large store with an even larger selection of nutritional supplements, bulk herbs, natural/organic health and beauty products, alternative dairy products, vegan foods, gluten free foods and so much more.
Up and coming articles: What is arrowroot, Flowers you can eat, Aromatherapy for ADHD, Is tea the new coffee?