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Health and wellbeing in the ancient world
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

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2.3 Hippocratic apples: finding out more

The Hippocratic text, On Regimen (2.55) says the following about apples:

Sweet apples are indigestible, but acid apples when ripe are less so. Quinces are astringent, and do not pass easily by stool. Apple juice stops vomiting and promotes urine. The smell too of apples is good for vomiting. Wild apples are astringent, but when cooked they pass more easily by stool. For orthopnea their juice, and the apples themselves when a draught is made of them, are beneficial.

Wall painting of an apple tree against a blue background, with other plants and flowers
Figure 6 Fresco of an apple tree, from the main hall of Livia’s villa, Pompeii

Activity 3

Use a search engine to look for the words ‘Hippocrates’ and ‘apple’. What type of websites do you find? What claims do they make? To what extent can they be traced back to the claims made in the original Hippocratic text?

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While you may have found natural health sites promoting the benefits of apple cider vinegar or even selling it – and there are many of these – you will also note that the original Hippocratic text does not specify any particular type of vinegar.

If you have not already found it, try reading the useful discussion from 2012 on forum/ viewtopic.php?t=3825 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]