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Women’s medicines in ancient jewish sources: Fertility enhancers and inhibiters

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores some aspects of medical lore about women and postulate that Jewish women administered among themselves when problems arose and, equally important, when they sought to preserve good health through nutrition, regimen, and hygiene. The Talmud also has passages that speak of "root medicines" that result in sterility. The possession of antifertility drugs is confirmed by a passage in the Book of Jasher, a Jewish account of the creation composed in the thirteenth century. The Hebrew "water of palms" could be what we would call an extract or solution from the palm tree. The rabbis revealed that palm water is drunk because it allows the gall to function, but it must be taken for forty days. Biblical, Talmudic, and other ancient sources indicate that ancient Jewish women, like those in neighbouring cultures, employed pharmaceutical agents both to promote and to inhibit fertility.

Keywords: fertility; Jewish women; palm tree; pharmaceutical agents; root medicines; Talmud



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