Chris Kresser: It keeps directing our attention back to the simple things. So in the example that you used, you know, we can bend over backwards trying to figure out how to address a certain pathogen or what combination of factors led to something happening. But really, we know that taking care of our immune system means eating good food, managing our stress, getting plenty of sleep, and then the body really takes care of the rest. But it’s when we go off the rails and stray from those fundamental factors that things really go haywire. It’s like we have the capacity for health in our bodies at all times, and we have the capacity for disease in our bodies at all times. Our role is how we create circumstances for health or disease to emerge from that incredibly complex interaction of factors that’s happening in our body at all times. And I don’t mean that we’re not going to find out, you know, develop new, incredible, advanced therapies that can be helpful in more complex situations. But even that won’t detract from the simplicity of it when it comes right down to it.
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.
James Maskell: Cool. I’d love to leave your listeners with something just to get them thinking, Chris, before the summit comes up. Because we did have one talk that I think is going to really change people’s thoughts on a lot of things. You know, a lot of it is great information, but I know that you’re passionate about the biome, the microbiome, and our understanding of germs. But if you don’t mind, I’d love to just share one concept that was shared that I think that you’ll really like. I’d love to get your comment on it.
^ Shorter, Edward (1997). A history of psychiatry: from the era of the asylum to the age of Prozac. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 46–48. ISBN 978-0471157496.; Bynum, W.F. (2006). "The Rise of Science in Medicine, 1850–1913". The Western Medical Tradition: 1800–2000. Hardy, Anne; Jacyna, Stephen; Lawrence, Christopher; Tansey, E.M. Cambridge University Press. pp. 198–99. ISBN 978-0521475655.
European ideas of modern medicine were spread widely through the world by medical missionaries, and the dissemination of textbooks. Japanese elites enthusiastically embraced Western medicine after the Meiji Restoration of the 1860s. However they had been prepared by their knowledge of the Dutch and German medicine, for they had some contact with Europe through the Dutch. Highly influential was the 1765 edition of Hendrik van Deventer's pioneer work Nieuw Ligt ("A New Light") on Japanese obstetrics, especially on Katakura Kakuryo's publication in 1799 of Sanka Hatsumo ("Enlightenment of Obstetrics"). A cadre of Japanese physicians began to interact with Dutch doctors, who introduced smallpox vaccinations. By 1820 Japanese ranpô medical practitioners not only translated Dutch medical texts, they integrated their readings with clinical diagnoses. These men became leaders of the modernization of medicine in their country. They broke from Japanese traditions of closed medical fraternities and adopted the European approach of an open community of collaboration based on expertise in the latest scientific methods.
^ Porter, Roy (1999). The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present. London: Fontana. p. 493. ISBN 978-0393319804.; Porter, Roy (1992). "Madness and its Institutions". In Wear, Andrew. Medicine in Society: Historical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 277–302. ISBN 978-0521336390.; Suzuki, A. (1991). "Lunacy in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England: Analysis of Quarter Sessions records Part I". History of Psychiatry. 2 (8): 437–56. doi:10.1177/0957154X9100200807. PMID 11612606.; Suzuki, A. (1992). "Lunacy in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England: Analysis of Quarter Sessions records Part II". History of Psychiatry. 3 (9): 29–44. doi:10.1177/0957154X9200300903. PMID 11612665.
^ Hayward, Rhodri (2011). "Medicine and the Mind". In Jackson, Mark. The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine. Oxford University Press. pp. 524–42. ISBN 978-0199546497.; Scull, Andrew (2005). Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness And Society in Britain, 1700–1900. Yale University Press. pp. 324–28. ISBN 978-0300107548.; Dowbiggin, I. (1992). ""An exodus of enthusiasm": G. Alder Blumer, eugenics, and US psychiatry, 1890–1920". Medical History. 36 (4): 379–402. doi:10.1017/S002572730005568X. PMC 1036631. PMID 1435019.; Snelders, S.; Meijman, F.J.; Pieters, T. (2007). "Heredity and alcoholism in the medical sphere: The Netherlands, 1850–1900". Medical History. 51 (2): 219–36. doi:10.1017/S0025727300001204. PMC 1871693. PMID 17538696.; Turda, M. (2009). ""To end the degeneration of a nation": Debates on eugenic sterilization in inter-war Romania". Medical History. 53 (1): 77–104. doi:10.1017/S002572730000332X. PMC 2629178. PMID 19190750.
^ Andrews, Jonathan (2004). "The Rise of the Asylum in Britain". In Brunton, Deborah. Medicine Transformed: Health, Disease and Society in Europe 1800–1930. Manchester University Press. pp. 298–330. ISBN 978-0719067358.; Porter, Roy (2003). "Introduction". In Porter, Roy; Wright, David. The Confinement of the Insane: International Perspectives, 1800–1965. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–19. ISBN 978-1139439626.
Greek historian Herodotus stated that every Babylonian was an amateur physician, since it was the custom to lay the sick in the street so that anyone passing by might offer advice. Divination, from the inspection of the liver of a sacrificed animal, was widely practiced to foretell the course of a disease. Little else is known regarding Babylonian medicine, and the name of not a single physician has survived.
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.
When the medicine of ancient Egypt is examined, the picture becomes clearer. The first physician to emerge is Imhotep, chief minister to King Djoser in the 3rd millennium bce, who designed one of the earliest pyramids, the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, and who was later regarded as the Egyptian god of medicine and identified with the Greek god Asclepius. Surer knowledge comes from the study of Egyptian papyri, especially the Ebers papyrus and Edwin Smith papyrus discovered in the 19th century. The former is a list of remedies, with appropriate spells or incantations, while the latter is a surgical treatise on the treatment of wounds and other injuries.
^ England and Wales had nine county and borough asylums in 1827 with an average capacity of a little over 100 patients, but by 1890 there were 66 such asylums containing on average 800 patients each; the total number of patients so confined increased from 1,027 in 1827 to 74,004 in 1900. Similarly, in Germany, between 1852 and 1898 the asylum population increased seven-fold from 11,622 to 74,087 patients during a period when the total population had only grown by ten per cent. In America the asylum population had risen to almost 250,000 on the eve of the First World War.
Over the centuries, reports occasionally surfaced of caesarean sections saving the lives of both mother and baby, but even after the introduction of antiseptic methods and anaesthesia, caesareans remained a dangerous last resort. So Edinburgh surgeons were surprised to hear a lecture by Robert Felkin, a missionary doctor, about a successful operation that he had witnessed in the African kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara five years earlier.
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