Spagyric, is a name given to the production of herbal medicines using alchemical procedures. These procedures involve fermentation, distillation and the extraction of mineral components from the ash of the plant. These processes were in use in medieval alchemy generally for the separation and purification of metals from ores (see
Calcination), and salts from brines and other aqueous solutions.
Origin: Greek: Spao, to tear open, + ageiro, to collect. [ [http://cancerweb.ncl.ac.uk/cgi-bin/omd?spagyric "Online medical dictionary"] ] It is a term probably first coined by
Paracelsus. In its original use, the word "spagyric" was commonly used synonymously with the word "alchemy", however, in more recent times it has often been adopted by alternative medicinetheorists and various techniques of holistic medicine.
pagyrics in practice
Spagyric most commonly refers to a plant tincture to which has also been added the ash of the burned plant. The original rationale behind these special herbal tinctures seems to have been that an extract using alcohol could not be expected to contain all the medicinal properties from a living plant and so the ash or mineral component of the burned plant was prepared separately and then added back to 'augment' the alcoholic tincture. The roots of the word therefore refer first to the extraction or separation process and then to the recombining process. These herbal tinctures are alleged to have superior medicinal properties to simple alcohol tinctures. In theory these spagyrics can also optionally include material from fermentation of the plant material and also any aromatic component such as might be obtained through distillation. The final spagyric should be a reblending of all such extracts into one 'essence.'
The concept of the spagyric remedy in turn relies upon the three cardinal principles of alchemy termed salt, sulphur and mercury. "The basis of matter was the alchemical trinity of principles--salt, sulfur and mercury. Salt was the principle of fixity (non-action) and incombustibility; mercury was the principle of fusibility (ability to melt and flow) and volatility; and sulfur was the principle of inflammability." [ [http://www.intute.ac.uk/sciences/reference/plambeck/chem1/p01013a.htm "alchemy," at Intute] ]
The three primal alchemical properties and their correspondence in spagyric remedy are:
* Mercury = distillation = air and water elements, representing the aromatic and spiritual essence of the plant
* Salt = crystallization = earth element, representing the alcoholic extract or tincture of the plant
* Sulphur = sublimation = fire element and incineration, representing the ash of the plant
Paracelsusstated that the true purpose of Alchemywas not for the vulgar purpose of gold making, but rather for the production of medicines. [ [http://www.herbdatanz.com/spagyric_or_plant_alchemy_-_1.htm Spagyric or Plant Alchemy - 1 ] ] The term ‘Spagyria’ has been used by Paracelsusin his book 'Liber Paragranum', deriving from the Greek words 'spao' and 'ageiro', the essential meaning of which is to 'separate and to combine'.
He formulated that nature in itself was 'raw and unfinished' and man had the God-given task to evolve things to a higher level. As an example: The 'raw' medicinal plant would be separated into the basic components he termed 'mercurius', 'sulphur' and 'sal' and thereby cleaned of nonessential components. 'Mercurius', 'sulphur' and 'sal' were then recombined forming the medicine.
In contemporary terms this would be the extraction of the essential oils with vapor gaining the 'sulphur'. Then fermentation of the remaining plant and distilling the alcohol produced thus gaining 'mercurius'. Extraction of the mineral components from the ash of the marc which would be the 'sal'. Diluting the essential oils in the alcohol and then solving the mineral salts in it would produce the final potion.
Note that this is a simplified representation of the process which varies strongly depending on the source chosen.
* M.C Ramos Sánchez, F.J. Martín Gil, J. Martín Gil. "Los espagiristas vallisoletanos de la segunda mitad del siglo XVI y primera mitad del siglo XVII". Estudios sobre historia de la ciencia y de la técnica: IV Congreso de la Sociedad Española de Historia de las Ciencias y de las Técnicas: Valladolid, 22-27 de Septiembre de 1986, 1988, ISBN 84-505-7144-8, pags. 223-228
* [http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5340729.html "Method for producing spagyric essences from plants Patent 5340729"]
* [http://www.herbdatanz.com/spagyric_or_plant_alchemy_-_1.htm Spagyric or Plant Alchemy]
* http://www.alchemywebsite.com/johnreid.html A detailed online course of plant alchemy
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