The establishment of the calendar and the invention of writing marked the dawn of recorded history. The clues to early knowledge are few, consisting only of clay tablets bearing cuneiform signs and seals that were used by physicians of ancient Mesopotamia. In the Louvre Museum in France, a stone pillar is preserved on which is inscribed the Code of Hammurabi, who was a Babylonian king of the 18th century bce. This code includes laws relating to the practice of medicine, and the penalties for failure were severe. For example, “If the doctor, in opening an abscess, shall kill the patient, his hands shall be cut off”; if, however, the patient was a slave, the doctor was simply obliged to supply another slave.

Contemporary humans in developed countries are mostly free of parasites, particularly intestinal ones. This is largely due to frequent washing of clothing and the body, and improved sanitation. Although such hygiene can be very important when it comes to maintaining good health, it can be problematic for the proper development of the immune system. The hygiene hypothesis is that humans evolved to be dependent on certain microorganisms that help establish the immune system, and modern hygiene practices can prevent necessary exposure to these microorganisms. "Microorganisms and macroorganisms such as helminths from mud, animals, and feces play a critical role in driving immunoregulation" (Rook, 2012[26]). Essential microorganisms play a crucial role in building and training immune functions that fight off and repel some diseases, and protect against excessive inflammation, which has been implicated in several diseases. For instance, recent studies have found evidence supporting inflammation as a contributing factor in Alzheimer's Disease.[27]

Due to the hot and dry climate in Egypt, ancient papyri have survived intact, allowing historians to study the sophisticated techniques employed by Ancient Egyptian physicians. Whilst couched in magic and ritual, the Egyptians possessed a great deal of knowledge of healing herbs and repairing physical injuries, amongst the normal population and the workers responsible for building the great monuments of that nation.


In the 1950s new psychiatric drugs, notably the antipsychotic chlorpromazine, were designed in laboratories and slowly came into preferred use. Although often accepted as an advance in some ways, there was some opposition, due to serious adverse effects such as tardive dyskinesia. Patients often opposed psychiatry and refused or stopped taking the drugs when not subject to psychiatric control. There was also increasing opposition to the use of psychiatric hospitals, and attempts to move people back into the community on a collaborative user-led group approach ("therapeutic communities") not controlled by psychiatry. Campaigns against masturbation were done in the Victorian era and elsewhere. Lobotomy was used until the 1970s to treat schizophrenia. This was denounced by the anti-psychiatric movement in the 1960s and later.
“Rescaling Colonial Life From the Indigenous to the Alien: The Late 20th Century Search for Human Biological Futures,“ follows the reach of colonial practices of natural history through genomics and into outer space. The article centers around biochemist and medical anthropologist Baruch Blumberg, who began his career collecting samples from colonial subjects in Surinam and ended it as head of the NASA program in Astrobiology. Joanna Radin’s history traces entwinements of colonial natural history, space exploration, and inductive methods in postwar biological science.
Anatomy: A brief introduction Anatomy identifies and describes the structure of living things, and is essential to the practice of health and medicine. It can involve the study of larger biological structures, called gross anatomy, or of cells and tissues, known as microscopic anatomy or histology. Learn more about the importance of anatomy here. Read now
Medical information in the Edwin Smith Papyrus may date to a time as early as 3000 BC.[20] Imhotep in the 3rd dynasty is sometimes credited with being the founder of ancient Egyptian medicine and with being the original author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus, detailing cures, ailments and anatomical observations. The Edwin Smith Papyrus is regarded as a copy of several earlier works and was written c. 1600 BC. It is an ancient textbook on surgery almost completely devoid of magical thinking and describes in exquisite detail the examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous ailments.[21]

The Evolution of Medicine proudly recommends The Institute for Functional Medicine’s (IFM) educational offerings. IFM works to advance the highest expression of individual health by advocating Functional Medicine as the standard of care. To achieve this goal, their work is primarily focused on education, access, economics, collaboration and development, and research. To learn more visit www.IFM.org/EvoMed.
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