The oldest herbal book in the Americas






The Libellus de medicinalibus indorum herbis, better known as the Cruz-Badiano Codex (of Mexican medicinal plants) is the oldest medicinal book that has been produced in America. It was compiled in 1552, at the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Santiago Tlatelolco in Mexico City by the indigenous doctors Martín de la Cruz and Juan Badiano to preserve the knowledge originated by the cultivation of native plants and flowers. The Codex describes 185 different plants and how to prepare remedies, therapeutic uses and cures for diseases or symptoms that the human body presents. The Cruz-Badiano Codex is arranged according to diseases or conditions and goes from head to toe, which corresponds to an indigenous principle of classification.

The Codex, which was kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library until 1990, was returned by Pope John Paul II on his second visit to Mexico. Today, through the efforts of cultural agencies, educational institutions and foreign relations in Mexico, a renewed printed and electronic edition is available at

Thanks to Vallarta Botanical Garden for this information.

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