Many contemporary humans engage in little physical exercise compared to the physically active lifestyles of ancestral hunter-gatherers. Prolonged periods of inactivity may have only occurred in early humans following illness or injury, so a modern sedentary lifestyle may continuously cue the body to trigger life preserving metabolic and stress-related responses such as inflammation, and some theorize that this causes chronic diseases.
Maintaining a comfortable state of health is a goal shared by much of the world’s population past and present, thus the history of health and medicine weaves a thread connecting us with our ancestors’ human experiences. Yet it’s easy to assume that studying it involves either celebrating the ‘eureka moments’ of well-known heroes or laughing at outdated therapies. But, as I set out to show in my book, The History of Medicine in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2015), medicine’s past features plenty of lesser-known but equally fascinating episodes…
The Greek Galen (c. 129–216 CE) was one of the greatest physicians of the ancient world, studying and traveling widely in ancient Rome. He dissected animals to learn about the body, and performed many audacious operations—including brain and eye surgeries—that were not tried again for almost two millennia. In Ars medica ("Arts of Medicine"), he explained mental properties in terms of specific mixtures of the bodily parts.
Temples dedicated to the healer-god Asclepius, known as Asclepieia (Ancient Greek: Ἀσκληπιεῖα, sing. Ἀσκληπιεῖον, 'Asclepieion), functioned as centers of medical advice, prognosis, and healing. At these shrines, patients would enter a dream-like state of induced sleep known as enkoimesis (ἐγκοίμησις) not unlike anesthesia, in which they either received guidance from the deity in a dream or were cured by surgery. Asclepeia provided carefully controlled spaces conducive to healing and fulfilled several of the requirements of institutions created for healing. In the Asclepeion of Epidaurus, three large marble boards dated to 350 BCE preserve the names, case histories, complaints, and cures of about 70 patients who came to the temple with a problem and shed it there. Some of the surgical cures listed, such as the opening of an abdominal abscess or the removal of traumatic foreign material, are realistic enough to have taken place, but with the patient in a state of enkoimesis induced with the help of soporific substances such as opium. Alcmaeon of Croton wrote on medicine between 500 and 450 BCE. He argued that channels linked the sensory organs to the brain, and it is possible that he discovered one type of channel, the optic nerves, by dissection.
The Romans were also skilled engineers and they created a system of public health. The Romans noticed that people who lived near swamps often died of malaria. They did not know that mosquitoes in the swamps carried disease but they drained the swamps anyway. The Romans also knew that dirt encourages disease and they appreciated the importance of cleanliness. They built aqueducts to bring clean water into towns. They also knew that sewage encourages disease. The Romans built public lavatories in their towns. Streams running underneath them carried away sewage.
Jordan Reasoner: Hi, and welcome to the Revolution Health Radio show, brought to you by ChrisKresser.com. Steve is out today at a meditation retreat, and I’m your guest host Jordan Reasoner, from SCDlifestyle.com. With me is integrative medical practitioner, healthy skeptic, and New York Times bestselling author, Chris Kresser. But before we dive into this week’s show, I wanted to let you know, if you haven’t been over to ChrisKresser.com, you’ll notice on the front page, Chris is again giving away his 9-Steps to Perfect Health eBook. This eBook was taken off the market for a while and Chris has re-released it. It’s a 63-page eBook, and in it you’ll find the nine steps that Chris has been talking about for perfect health for quite a bit of time. Now, Steve and Chris have recorded a number of podcasts on these steps, but if you want to get the greater detail—including specific steps to take back your health, right now—head over to ChrisKresser.com. Put your name and email in the box and you’ll get instant access to your free eBook.
This paradigm shifting book shows how to build the practice of your dreams and still have a life; from efficiency to community and education to evangelism. He writes on the How to do it while maintaining your own health and life. The Evolution of Medicine speaks of the history and future of patient centered health care. The time is now to evolve with this revolution.