Eminent French scientist Louis Pasteur confirmed Schwann's fermentation experiments in 1857 and afterwards supported the hypothesis that yeast were microorganisms. Moreover, he suggested that such a process might also explain contagious disease. In 1860, Pasteur's report on bacterial fermentation of butyric acid motivated fellow Frenchman Casimir Davaine to identify a similar species (which he called bacteridia) as the pathogen of the deadly disease anthrax. Others dismissed "bacteridia" as a mere byproduct of the disease. British surgeon Joseph Lister, however, took these findings seriously and subsequently introduced antisepsis to wound treatment in 1865.
The Romans may not have understood the exact mechanisms behind disease but their superb level of personal hygiene and obsession with cleanliness certainly acted to reduce the number of epidemics in the major cities. Otherwise, they continued the tradition of the Greeks although, due to the fact that a Roman soldier was seen as a highly trained and expensive commodity, the military surgeons developed into fine practitioners of their art. Their refined procedures ensured that Roman soldiers had a much lower chance of dying from infection than those in other armies.
Chris Kresser: Yeah, sure. I’m sure a lot of my listeners know this about me, but for those people who are new to this especially, I think Paleo—and I’ve said this before—is a fantastic starting place, but it’s not a destination. What I mean by that, is we know that Paleo foods are safe and well tolerated for most of us because we’ve eaten them for such a long period of time. And by we, I mean human beings. And they’re the least likely to cause problems, allergies, food intolerances, and issues like that, because human beings have been consuming them for thousands of generations. But that doesn’t mean that we absolutely need to restrict our diet to those foods, because even though we’re largely the same genetically as we were 10,000 years ago, there have been significant changes. In fact, as much as 10% of our genome shows evidence of recent selection. And the pace of genetic change today is occurring at a rate 100 times faster than the average over 6 million years of hominid evolution. So we’re similar to our Paleolithic ancestors, but we’re different in some important ways. And those differences actually do affect our tolerance of certain agricultural foods, like full-fat and fermented dairy products, even legumes and grains, some of the newly introduced foods like alcohol and chocolate and coffee. These are all foods that modern research actually suggests can be beneficial when they are well tolerated, but I call them gray-area foods because our tolerance of them really depends on the individual. So for one person who is casein intolerant or intolerant to some of the proteins in dairy, eating any dairy is going to be problematic. But for someone who has no problem with casein or lactose, the sugar in dairy, all of the research on full-fat dairy suggests that it’s beneficial and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and even obesity. So those are just a few examples of how our diet has changed. And I think as a healthcare practitioner, my focus is always on the science—what the science shows, and what I see in the clinic in my work with patients. And I’m generally kind of allergic to extremely rigid, dogmatic approaches, especially when they’re not flexible enough to evolve and adapt with what the changing science tells us. So that was one of the big focuses of my talk at the summit.
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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.
Kitasato Shibasaburō (1853–1931) studied bacteriology in Germany under Robert Koch. In 1891 he founded the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, which introduced the study of bacteriology to Japan. He and French researcher Alexandre Yersin went to Hong Kong in 1894, where; Kitasato confirmed Yersin's discovery that the bacterium Yersinia pestis is the agent of the plague. In 1897 he isolates and described the organism that caused dysentery. He became the first dean of medicine at Keio University, and the first president of the Japan Medical Association.
The earliest references to medical care and surgical procedures are found in Babylonian texts like the laws of Hammurabi (1792-1750/43 BCE) describing the surgeon’s responsibilities and how much he should be paid. Pay was good, but penalties for mistakes harsh: “If a physician performs a major operation on a lord… and causes his death…. they shall cut off his hand”. Only wounds, fractures and abscesses were treated surgically. A Sumerian clay tablet (2150 BCE) describes wounds being washed in beer and hot water, poultices made from pine, prunes, wine dregs and lizard dung, and use of bandages (for a nose-bleed!). Other texts describe the symptoms and prognosis of epilepsy, bronchitis and scurvy. A list of 230 medicines using plant, animal and mineral ingredients was found in an Assyrian pharmacy and records of distillation of cedar oil proves that this was an earlier invention than we thought.
Caroline Rance blogs at www.thequackdoctor.com about the history of medical advertising and health fraud. Her book The History of Medicine in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2015) explores medicine’s history in bite-sized topics, from prehistoric parasites to the threat of antibiotic resistance. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @quackwriter and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/quackdoctor
I ended up selling the practice to my partner and taking a 20-month sabbatical due to a motor vehicle accident. I had considered retiring after selling the practice, but in the area where I live there are very few people practicing this style of medicine and the need far exceeds the number of people who have the skills or knowledge. During the time I was not working, I had many former patients contacting me and wanting to know when I was going to open a new practice.