Latin American medicine in the 16th century produced the first collections of herbs with native plants from the New World. Treatises on popular therapies appeared, which included gallenic remedies as well as incorporating autochthonous plants. We review the main neurological diseases and their treatments described in The Treasure of Medicines for All Illnesses by Gregorio Lopez (1542-1596).
Some critics claim that his work was an enumeration of empirical prescriptions, sometimes with a magico-religious influence, which was extended in successive reprints. Yet, this manuscript is probably the first treatise on therapeutics written by a European in the New World to describe the native remedies employed in the treatment of diseases. In the section entitled Remedies in alphabetical order the following neurological ailments and appropriate remedies to treat them are described: abscess, apoplexy, brain, chilling, cramp, gota coral or epilepsy, headache, melancholy, memory, migraine, nerves, palsy, paralysis, sciatica, stupor and vertigo. The list of diseases is very complete and includes syndromes ranging from fevers, colics and bruises to phthisis, scabs or burns. The copy of the manuscript in the Vatican contains a final section on Indian medicines, which includes a list of medicinal plants used at that time, with the names given in Nahuatl language.
Headaches, epilepsy and conditions affecting the peripheral nerves were the neurological pathologies that were described at greatest length in The Treasure of Medicines for All Illnesses, and for which a greater number of natural prescriptions were compiled.