Late antiquity ushered in a revolution in medical science, and historical records often mention civilian hospitals (although battlefield medicine and wartime triage were recorded well before Imperial Rome). Constantinople stood out as a center of medicine during the Middle Ages, which was aided by its crossroads location, wealth, and accumulated knowledge. copied content from Byzantine medicine; see that page's history for attribution
Mental illnesses were well known in ancient Mesopotamia, where diseases and mental disorders were believed to be caused by specific deities. Because hands symbolized control over a person, mental illnesses were known as "hands" of certain deities. One psychological illness was known as Qāt Ištar, meaning "Hand of Ishtar". Others were known as "Hand of Shamash", "Hand of the Ghost", and "Hand of the God". Descriptions of these illnesses, however, are so vague that it is usually impossible to determine which illnesses they correspond to in modern terminology. Mesopotamian doctors kept detailed record of their patients' hallucinations and assigned spiritual meanings to them. A patient who hallucinated that he was seeing a dog was predicted to die; whereas, if he saw a gazelle, he would recover. The royal family of Elam was notorious for its members frequently suffering from insanity. Erectile dysfunction was recognized as being rooted in psychological problems.
Medical education instituted at the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico chiefly served the needs of urban elites. Male and female curanderos or lay practitioners, attended to the ills of the popular classes. The Spanish crown began regulating the medical profession just a few years after the conquest, setting up the Royal Tribunal of the Protomedicato, a board for licensing medical personnel in 1527. Licensing became more systematic after 1646 with physicians, druggists, surgeons, and bleeders requiring a license before they could publicly practice. Crown regulation of medical practice became more general in the Spanish empire.
Until the nineteenth century, the care of the insane was largely a communal and family responsibility rather than a medical one. The vast majority of the mentally ill were treated in domestic contexts with only the most unmanageable or burdensome likely to be institutionally confined. This situation was transformed radically from the late eighteenth century as, amid changing cultural conceptions of madness, a new-found optimism in the curability of insanity within the asylum setting emerged. Increasingly, lunacy was perceived less as a physiological condition than as a mental and moral one to which the correct response was persuasion, aimed at inculcating internal restraint, rather than external coercion. This new therapeutic sensibility, referred to as moral treatment, was epitomised in French physician Philippe Pinel's quasi-mythological unchaining of the lunatics of the Bicêtre Hospital in Paris and realised in an institutional setting with the foundation in 1796 of the Quaker-run York Retreat in England.
Louis Pasteur (1822–1895) was one of the most important founders of medical microbiology. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases. His discoveries reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and he created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. His experiments supported the germ theory of disease. He was best known to the general public for inventing a method to treat milk and wine in order to prevent it from causing sickness, a process that came to be called pasteurization. He is regarded as one of the three main founders of microbiology, together with Ferdinand Cohn and Robert Koch. He worked chiefly in Paris and in 1887 founded the Pasteur Institute there to perpetuate his commitment to basic research and its practical applications. As soon as his institute was created, Pasteur brought together scientists with various specialties. The first five departments were directed by Emile Duclaux (general microbiology research) and Charles Chamberland (microbe research applied to hygiene), as well as a biologist, Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (morphological microbe research) and two physicians, Jacques-Joseph Grancher (rabies) and Emile Roux (technical microbe research). One year after the inauguration of the Institut Pasteur, Roux set up the first course of microbiology ever taught in the world, then entitled Cours de Microbie Technique (Course of microbe research techniques). It became the model for numerous research centers around the world named "Pasteur Institutes."
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we are excited to welcome Qigong master Mingtong Gu, recorded live from his center in New Mexico with Evolution of Medicine co-founder Gabe Hoffman. Gabe has been studying Wisdom Healing Qigong with Mingtong since finding his high-quality content on YouTube two years ago. Since then Gabe learned of the extremely successful Medicineless Qigong Hospital in China, where Wisdom Healing Qigong is the only tool used. Gabe recently returned from a month-long retreat, led by Mingtong, where people with all types of chronic disease used the same protocols as the hospital in China with great success.
In the 17th century medicine was helped by the microscope (invented at the end of the 16th century). Then in 1665 Robert Hooke was the first person to describe cells in his book Micrographia. Finally in 1683 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek observed microorganisms. However he did not realise they caused disease. Meanwhile in 1661 Robert Boyle published the Skeptical Chemist, which laid the foundations of modern chemistry. In the early 17th century doctors also discovered how to treat malaria with bark from the cinchona tree (it contains quinine).
Evolutionary principles may also improve our vaccine strategy. Vaccines are another way to create selective pressures on infectious organisms. We may inadvertently target vaccines against proteins that select out less virulent strains, selecting for the more virulent or infectious strains. Understanding of this allows us to instead target vaccines against virulence without targeting less deadly strains.
The Egyptians did have some knowledge of anatomy from making mummies. To embalm a dead body they first removed the principal organs, which would otherwise rot. However Egyptian surgery was limited to such things as treating wounds and broken bones and dealing with boils and abscesses. The Egyptians used clamps, sutures and cauterization. They had surgical instruments like probes, saws, forceps, scalpels and scissors. They also knew that honey helped to prevent wounds becoming infected. (It is a natural antiseptic). They also dressed wounds with willow bark, which has the same effect. The Egyptians were clean people. They washed daily and changed their clothes regularly, which must have helped their health.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we feature, authors, Glenn Sabin and Taylor Walsh. Their book is called The Rise of Integrative Health and Medicine: The Milestones - 1963 to Present. It features over 120 of the most significant accomplishments in the field during the last 54 years. Evolution of Medicine is proud to be among the chosen milestones.
Western conceptions of the body differ significantly from indigenous knowledge and explanatory frameworks in Asia. As colonial governments assumed responsibility for health care, conceptions of the human body were translated into local languages and related to vernacular views of health, disease, and healing. The contributors to this volume chart and analyze the organization of western medical education in Southeast Asia, public health education in the region, and the response of practitioners of “traditional medicine”.
In spite of this tension, Dom Agaya showed Cartier how to make a decoction from a tree called Annedda and, although the Frenchmen wondered if it were a plot to poison them, a couple of them gave it a go and were cured within days. After that, there was such a rush for the medicine that “they were ready to kill one another”, and used up a whole large tree.
c.130 CE Birth of Galen, considered by many to be the most important contributor to medicine following Hippocrates. Born of Greek parents, Galen resides primarily in Rome where he is physician to the gladiators and personal physician to several emperors. He publishes some 500 treatises and is still respected for his contributions to anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.
medicine has modelled itself after a mechanical physics, deriving from Galileo, Newton, and Descartes.... As a result of assuming this model, medicine is mechanistic, materialistic, reductionistic, linear-causal, and deterministic (capable of precise predictions) in its concepts. It seeks explanations for diseases, or their symptoms, signs, and cause in single, materialistic— i.e., anatomical or structural (e.g., in genes and their products)— changes within the body, wrought directly (linearly), for example, by infectious, toxic, or traumatic agents. p. 510
1796 Edward Jenner develops a method to protect people from smallpox by exposing them to the cowpox virus. In his famous experiment, he rubs pus from a dairymaid's cowpox postule into scratches on the arm of his gardener's 8-year-old son, and then exposes him to smallpox six weeks later (which he does not develop). The process becomes known as vaccination from the Latin vacca for cow. Vaccination with cowpox is made compulsory in Britain in 1853. Jenner is sometimes called the founding father of immunology.
Chris Kresser: So what kind of response are you getting? I mean, it sounds like, just from the little bit that I’ve heard, that this is really happening at a big level, with The Huffington Post support. You know, this is getting beyond the typical kind of blog tour that a lot of these summits do. So what’s been the response in the more mainstream world to the whole concept of functional medicine and doing a summit on this topic?
Nursing was greatly improved by two nurses, Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) and Mary Seacole (1805-1881) who both nursed soldiers during the Crimean War 1853-56. In the USA Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. Meanwhile in the 19th century several more hospitals were founded in London including Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital (1852). In 1864 Jean Henri Dunant founded the international Red Cross.
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.