c.484 – 425 BC Herodotus tells us Egyptian doctors were specialists: Medicine is practiced among them on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more. Thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines,and some those which are not local.
Prize Citation: In “Digital Natives: How medical and Indigenous histories matter for Big Data,” Joanna Radin argues for critical engagement with “the metabolism of Big Data”. Radin presents the remarkable history of a dataset known as the Pima Indian Diabetes Dataset (PIDD), derived from research conducted with the Akimel O’odham Indigenous community in Arizona. Since the loss of their ability to farm the land, this community has an extremely high rate of diabetes. Reconstructing the circumstances of the dataset’s production and its presence in a Machine Learning repository where it is used in projects far removed from diabetes, Radin draws attention to the way that data is naturalised, and bodies and economic struggle are elided. Significant questions are raised about the ethics and politics of research in an age of Big Data, including the reproduction of patterns of settler colonialism in the research enterprise, and the community’s work to redefine the research encounter. The prize committee were impressed by Radin’s depth of research, quality of analysis, and the contribution to multiple literatures, and commend her for an inspired and inspiring article.
In the 17th century medicine continued to advance. In the early 17th century an Italian called Santorio invented the medical thermometer. In 1628 William Harvey published his discovery of how blood circulates around the body. Harvey realized that the heart is a pump. Each time it contracts it pumps out blood. The blood circulates around the body. Harvey then estimated how much blood was being pumped each time.
It didn’t work against Roman armies, however, and when Mithradates was defeated by the military leader Pompey in 66 BC, the recipe supposedly arrived in Rome. Emperor Nero’s physician Andromachus developed it into a 64-ingredient composition, which became known as theriac. Most of the ingredients were botanical (including opium), but viper’s flesh was a notable component.
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.
James Maskell: Dr. Larry Palevsky is speaking, and he’s speaking on the pediatrics day. He’s an awesome doctor. He was lecturing about the microbiome five years ago, before the human microbiome came out. And so I asked him, he spoke at my Functional Forum, and he brought up some concepts that were new, and I was sitting next to storied integrative medicine doctors who were just sort of blown away. And his thought is this: We all know now that 99% of our bacteria and fungus and viruses and so forth are mutually beneficial, and they help us, and they help with metabolism and digestion and immunity. That’s our sort of main understanding. So I asked him, “Dr. Palevsky, what are we going to learn next? What are we really going to understand next about the microbiome that we don’t understand now?” And he basically—you have to listen to it on the summit, but he basically says this—“We have trillions of non-redundant viruses in our chromosomes, in our DNA. So these are trillions of viruses that we’ve evolved with over time.” And so his question is, “When you get a viral illness, how many more viruses have to come into the body for you to get a viral illness? 10? 20? 100?” I mean, when you look at the numbers compared to what’s actually in our chromosomes and in our DNA, the numbers just don’t add up. His thought is, and his concept is, that these viruses, there’s different transmission mechanisms. His thought is that the next understanding that we’re going to have of the microbiome, the next level of understanding is going to be that the body and these viruses work together to be able to return the body to homeostasis. So when you get to a point where the body is just so stressed and there’s too many toxins and things for it to deal with, and it can’t get back to homeostasis by itself, it communes with viruses to be able to instigate what we think of as a viral illness, to be able to get the patient to just slow down, so that we can get back to homeostasis. And it made such an impression on me because I had a friend last year who got viral pneumonia. And what was happening before viral pneumonia? She was working for three months on a project about 15 hours a day. And suddenly, it finished and she did great with it, and then she was sick for a month with viral pneumonia. So what, pneumonia just came along and attacked at that moment? Obviously, not. So I’d love to get your thoughts on that. Because when he shared that, I was like, “This seems so obvious.” And I’m really excited to think what our understanding is going to be like when we start to appreciate that our evolution with viruses is a big part of our evolution, and that there may be a lot more to it than thinking a virus is just something that comes from outside all the time.
The Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins is proud to introduce new online CME modules that provide a historical perspective on issues of relevance to clinical practice today. Our first module, which launched in January 2018, explores the social, political, and economic forces that continue to shape the dynamic boundaries of the medical profession. Medical professionalism is...
Seishu Hanaoka (1760–1835) studied medicine in Kyoto and set up a practice in his hometown of Hirayama. He became interested in the idea of anaesthesia owing to stories that a third-century Chinese surgeon Houa T’o had developed a compound drug enabling patients to sleep through the pain. Hanaoka experimented with similar formulae and produced Tsusensan, a potent hot drink. Among other botanical ingredients it contained the plants Datura metel (aka Datura alba or ‘devil’s trumpet’), monkshood and Angelica decursiva, all of which contain some potent physiologically active substances.
Upon the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in Alexandria, Egypt, two medical missions went to investigate and attend the sick, one was sent out by Pasteur and the other led by Koch. Koch's group returned in 1883, having successfully discovered the cholera pathogen. In Germany, however, Koch's bacteriologists had to vie against Max von Pettenkofer, Germany's leading proponent of miasmatic theory. Pettenkofer conceded bacteria's casual involvement, but maintained that other, environmental factors were required to turn it pathogenic, and opposed water treatment as a misdirected effort amid more important ways to improve public health. The massive cholera epidemic in Hamburg in 1892 devastasted Pettenkoffer's position, and yielded German public health to "Koch's bacteriology".
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).
A number of Greeks speculated that the human body was made up of elements. If they were properly balanced the person was healthy. However if they became unbalanced the person fell ill. Finally Aristotle (384-322 BC) thought the body was made up of four humors or liquids. They were phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile. If a person had too much of one humor they fell ill. For instance if a person had a fever he must have too much blood. The treatment was to cut the patient and let him bleed.
Scientists, led by Deborah Hung in the HMS Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology and at Mass General and Brigham and Women’s, show that a detailed RNA signature of specific pathogens can identify a broad spectrum of infectious agents, forming the basis of a diagnostic platform to earlier determine the best treatment option for infectious diseases.
Vienna was the capital of a diverse empire and attracted not just Germans but Czechs, Hungarians, Jews, Poles and others to its world-class medical facilities. After 1820 the Second Viennese School of Medicine emerged with the contributions of physicians such as Carl Freiherr von Rokitansky, Josef Škoda, Ferdinand Ritter von Hebra, and Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis. Basic medical science expanded and specialization advanced. Furthermore, the first dermatology, eye, as well as ear, nose, and throat clinics in the world were founded in Vienna. The textbook of ophthalmologist Georg Joseph Beer (1763–1821) Lehre von den Augenkrankheiten combined practical research and philosophical speculations, and became the standard reference work for decades.
Women had always served in ancillary roles, and as midwives and healers. The professionalization of medicine forced them increasingly to the sidelines. As hospitals multiplied they relied in Europe on orders of Roman Catholic nun-nurses, and German Protestant and Anglican deaconesses in the early 19th century. They were trained in traditional methods of physical care that involved little knowledge of medicine. The breakthrough to professionalization based on knowledge of advanced medicine was led by Florence Nightingale in England. She resolved to provide more advanced training than she saw on the Continent. At Kaiserswerth, where the first German nursing schools were founded in 1836 by Theodor Fliedner, she said, "The nursing was nil and the hygiene horrible.") Britain's male doctors preferred the old system, but Nightingale won out and her Nightingale Training School opened in 1860 and became a model. The Nightingale solution depended on the patronage of upper class women, and they proved eager to serve. Royalty became involved. In 1902 the wife of the British king took control of the nursing unit of the British army, became its president, and renamed it after herself as the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps; when she died the next queen became president. Today its Colonel In Chief is Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the daughter-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II. In the United States, upper middle class women who already supported hospitals promoted nursing. The new profession proved highly attractive to women of all backgrounds, and schools of nursing opened in the late 19th century. They soon a function of large hospitals, where they provided a steady stream of low-paid idealistic workers. The International Red Cross began operations in numerous countries in the late 19th century, promoting nursing as an ideal profession for middle class women.
Meanwhile In 1875 Robert Koch (1843-1910) isolated the germ that causes anthrax. In 1882 he isolated the germ that causes tuberculosis and in 1883 he isolated the germ that causes cholera in humans. Meanwhile the organism that causes leprosy was discovered in 1879. The germ that causes typhoid was isolated in 1880. The germ that causes diphtheria was discovered in 1882 by Edwin Klebs. In 1884 the germs that cause tetanus and pneumonia were both discovered. Immunization against diphtheria was invented in 1890. A vaccine for typhoid was invented in 1896.
The Byzantine Empire's neighbors, the Persian Sassanid Empire, also made their noteworthy contributions mainly with the establishment of the Academy of Gondeshapur, which was "the most important medical center of the ancient world during the 6th and 7th centuries." In addition, Cyril Elgood, British physician and a historian of medicine in Persia, commented that thanks to medical centers like the Academy of Gondeshapur, "to a very large extent, the credit for the whole hospital system must be given to Persia."
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we are thrilled to welcome back one of the speakers from the first Evolution of Medicine Summit. She is the publisher of What Doctors Don’t Tell You in the UK. She has been a writer, journalist, and activist for a few decades. Lynne McTaggart is the author of The Intention Experiment and The Field. Her latest book, The Power of Eight, looks at the power of small groups to heal. In Functional Medicine, we’ve seen the power of small groups with things like group visits and the work with the Saddleback Church. This book takes the idea even further, explaining how groups of people can support each other’s healing and transformation.
After 1871 Berlin, the capital of the new German Empire, became a leading center for medical research. Robert Koch (1843–1910) was a representative leader. He became famous for isolating Bacillus anthracis (1877), the Tuberculosis bacillus (1882) and Vibrio cholerae (1883) and for his development of Koch's postulates. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1905 for his tuberculosis findings. Koch is one of the founders of microbiology, inspiring such major figures as Paul Ehrlich and Gerhard Domagk.
Dr. Brandeis also shared why he has joined a technology startup called Orchestra One. Orchestra One's practice management platform runs your business online, in-office and everywhere in between - giving you more time to do what you do best, and also holds the potential to make billing insurance easier than ever. If you are interested in the intersection of technology and medicine, this should make great listening.
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
The History of Medicine Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University is accepting applications for our travel grant program. https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/history-of-medicine/grants Research grants of up to $1,500 will be offered to researchers whose work would benefit from access to the historical medical collections at the Rubenstein Rare Book & […]
Mid-1960s: Many seriously mentally ill people are removed from institutions. In the United States they are directed toward local mental health homes and facilities. The number of institutionalized mentally ill people in the United States will drop from a peak of 560,000 to just over 130,000 in 1980. Many people suffering from mental illness become homeless because of inadequate housing and follow-up care.