This was where man had made his first medicines - not from dried herbs on a store shelf, but from the forest itself.
In the modern signification it is applied to the act of preparing, preserving and compounding medicines, according to the prescriptions of physicians.
The establishments for dispensing medicines at Cordova, Toledo and other large towns under Arab rule, were placed under severe legal restrictions.
In 1694 the apothecaries had increased from 114 to nearly 1000, and many of them, having acquired a knowledge of the uses of medicine, began to prescribe medicines for their customers and to assume the functions of the physician, who retorted in 1697 by establishing dispensaries, where medicines could be procured at their intrinsic value, or at cost price.
In 1748 the Apothecaries' Corporation obtained a charter empowering them to license apothecaries to sell medicines in London, or within 7 m., and intended to use it to restrain chemists and druggists from practising pharmacy, and to prohibit physicians and surgeons from selling the medicines they prescribed; but the apothecaries, by paying increased attention to medical and surgical practice, had not only alienated the physicians and surgeons, but materially strengthened the position of chemists and druggists as dispensers of prescriptions.