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A walk through Hippocrates’ garden

Apply chamomile to a wound to clean it, then dittany to heal it and then a clean bandage. These are not instructions from a course in first aid but the scenario of an electronic game designed by the International Hippocratic Foundation for the purpose of educating children in the therapeutic properties of herbs and methods used in ancient medicine. It is part of an initiative titled «Hippocrates’ Garden» that began last May on the sage’s native island of Kos, on 0.5 hectares of land behind the foundation’s headquarters. According to the foundation’s director, Stefanos Geroulanos, a professor of surgery at Zurich University and a former professor of medical history, the game, scheduled for release next year, provides opportunities to treat «digital injuries» using ancient doctors’ techniques. «For example, they will have to use a chamomile infusion for cleaning injuries, apply dittany powder and then bandage the wound. In another case, they will have to use three canes to stabilize a broken limb, and give the patient mandragora root (mandrake) for the pain.» Meanwhile, the foundation’s herb garden is growing, with the addition of 48 more plant species a few weeks ago, bringing the total to 158. The goal is for more than 254 species referred to by Hippocrates. The foundation next plans to renovate the interior of its premises to incorporate a permanent exhibition divided into the different periods in the history of medicine from pre-Hippocratic times to the present. It also plans a 700-meter footpath linking the foundation with the Asclepieio, the island’s most important archaeological site, in antiquity a sanatorium dedicated to Asclepius, where Hippocrates taught. The foundation has the support of the Aegean Ministry, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Apivita and Alapis.