Francisco López Muñoz, full academician of the Royal European Academy of Doctors-Barcelona 1914 (RAED), has been appointed as corresponding academician of the Academy of Medicine of Paraguay. The recipient will take office on June 21 with the admission speech “El tratamiento de la enfermedad mental en la obra de Cervantes: las cuatro caras del Pharmakon” (The treatment of mental illness in the work of Cervantes: the four faces of Pharmakon), where he analyses the use of psychotropic substances in Cervantes’ work, as well as therapeutic remedies, as toxic and poisonous agents (love filters and poisonous potions), such as compounds alexidrugs (unicorn horn, stones bezoares) and as substances of abuse (witches’ ointments).

Francisco López Muñoz

Dr. Francisco López

The academician describes the main agents cited by Cervantes in his literary context, such as henbane, tobacco, rhubarb, rosemary, verbena or, in a masked way, opium. It also highlights how the author of Quixote, on numerous occasions, doesn’t identify the ingredients of the compounds to which he refers, possibly as a precaution against possible punitive actions of the Holy Office, although in view of the symptoms described could be plants of the family of solanaceae, such as henbane, datura, belladonna or mandrake.

López Muñoz also discusses his possible documentary sources in pharmacological and toxicological matters, highlighting the “Dioscorides” commented by Andrés Laguna, reason for a long and prolific line of academician research. In this sense, he affirms that the use of scientific works by Cervantes “as a reference and documentary tool doesn’t suppose any reduction of the artistic creativity of this genius of letters, as one might think from reductionist approaches, but quite the opposite: an approximation of science to literature for the first time in the history of Spanish literature”.