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Heirs of Hippocrates

Heirs of Hippocrates

Complete Record - Heirs of Hippocrates No. 1039

WILLIAM WITHERING (1741-1799) An account of the foxglove, and some of its medical uses: with practical remarks on dropsy, and other diseases. Printed by M. Swinney for G. G. J. and J. Robinson 1785 xx, 207 pp., fold. col. plate. 21.2 cm.

A man of wide-ranging talents and interests, Withering was one of the ablest clinicians of his day and one of the most famous men in Europe. He was graduated from Edinburgh in 1766 and soon enjoyed a successful practice in Birmingham. Despite his medical work, Withering found time to follow a number of other pursuits: he was a mineralogist, climatologist, inventor, cattle breeder, accomplished musician, and botanist. His first major scientific contribution, A botanical arrangement of all the vegetables naturally growing in Great Britain (1776), was a standard botanical work for many years. His fame, however, rests on his celebrated work with the foxglove plant (Digitalis). Beginning his research after hearing of an old country woman who used the herb to cure dropsy, Withering used foxglove to treat congestive heart failure with some success. Its introduction into the Edinburgh pharmacopoeia in 1783 and its subsequent widespread acceptance eventually led to its overuse and Withering's classic Account of the foxglove was actually written as a protest against such abuse. The book includes 163 cases involving the use of digitalis and is regarded as one of the classics in pharmacology. In this copy, the famous colored illustration of the foxglove plant is in almost mint condition.

Cited references Cushing W254; Garrison-Morton 1836; Osler 426; Waller 10378

Gift of John Martin, M.D.

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