The authors also provide examples of how evolutionary principles can direct future research. They reference new research looking into the role of intestinal parasites and autoimmune diseases. The research is based upon the premise that humans co-evolved not only with our intestinal flora, but with certain parasites, such as intestinal worms. Now we live in a largely hygienic environment, and have even taken steps to eliminate parasites. This may have unintentionally deprived our immune systems of needed stimulation, resulting in poor immune regulation, and subsequent increase in auto-immune diseases like asthma and multiple sclerosis.
The physicians drew upon a great store of knowledge in the Peri-Ankh, the Houses of Life; here, students were taught and papyri documenting procedures were stored. Physiotherapy and heat-therapy were used to treat aches and pains, and Ancient Egyptian medicine included repairing and splinting broken bones, as shown by successfully healed skeletons. Priest-doctors also practiced amputation, using linens and antiseptics to reduce the chance of infection and gangrene, and there is some evidence that they employed prosthetics where needed.
Apart from the treatment of wounds and broken bones, the folklore of medicine is probably the most ancient aspect of the art of healing, for primitive physicians showed their wisdom by treating the whole person, soul as well as body. Treatments and medicines that produced no physical effects on the body could nevertheless make a patient feel better when both healer and patient believed in their efficacy. This so-called placebo effect is applicable even in modern clinical medicine.
According to the compendium of Charaka, the Charakasamhitā, health and disease are not predetermined and life may be prolonged by human effort. The compendium of Suśruta, the Suśrutasamhitā defines the purpose of medicine to cure the diseases of the sick, protect the healthy, and to prolong life. Both these ancient compendia include details of the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments. The Suśrutasamhitā is notable for describing procedures on various forms of surgery, including rhinoplasty, the repair of torn ear lobes, perineal lithotomy, cataract surgery, and several other excisions and other surgical procedures. Most remarkable is Sushruta's penchant for scientific classification: His medical treatise consists of 184 chapters, 1,120 conditions are listed, including injuries and illnesses relating to aging and mental illness.
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), a Swedish-born chemist and businessman who invented dynamite, left most of his wealth to establish the Nobel Prizes. Since 1901, these awards have been given to men and women from all over the world in recognition of their outstanding achievements in chemistry, medicine or physiology, physics, literature and for work on behalf of peace.
James Maskell is the host of our podcast and flagship show, the Functional Forum, the world’s largest integrative medicine community. He is on a mission to create structures necessary to evolve humanity beyond chronic disease. He lectures internationally and has been featured on TEDx, TEDMED and HuffPostLive and also founder of KNEW Health, a payer solution for chronic disease reversal.
From 1917 to 1923, the American Red Cross moved into Europe with a battery of long-term child health projects. It built and operated hospitals and clinics, and organized antituberculosis and antityphus campaigns. A high priority involved child health programs such as clinics, better baby shows, playgrounds, fresh air camps, and courses for women on infant hygiene. Hundreds of U.S. doctors, nurses, and welfare professionals administered these programs, which aimed to reform the health of European youth and to reshape European public health and welfare along American lines.