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".
During the 18th century medicine made slow progress. Doctors still did not know what caused disease. Some continued to believe in the four humors (although this theory declined during the 18th century). Other doctors thought disease was caused by 'miasmas' (odorless gases in the air). However surgery did make some progress. The famous 18th century surgeon John Hunter (1728-1793) is sometimes called the Father of Modern Surgery. He invented new procedures such as tracheotomy.
The means of dressing the incision was also highly developed: the surgeon used seven polished iron spikes to bring the edges of the wound together, tying them in place with bark-cloth string. He then applied a thick layer of herbal paste and covered this with a warm banana leaf held in place with a bandage. According to Felkin’s account, the mother and her baby were still doing well when he left the village 11 days later.
The Islamic civilization rose to primacy in medical science as its physicians contributed significantly to the field of medicine, including anatomy, ophthalmology, pharmacology, pharmacy, physiology, surgery, and the pharmaceutical sciences. The Arabs were influenced by ancient Indian, Persian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine medical practices, and helped them develop further. Galen & Hippocrates were pre-eminent authorities. The translation of 129 of Galen's works into Arabic by the Nestorian Christian Hunayn ibn Ishaq and his assistants, and in particular Galen's insistence on a rational systematic approach to medicine, set the template for Islamic medicine, which rapidly spread throughout the Arab Empire. while Europe was in its Dark Ages, Islam expanded in West Asia and enjoyed a golden age. Its most famous physicians included the Persian polymaths Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi and Avicenna, who wrote more than 40 works on health, medicine, and well-being. Taking leads from Greece and Rome, Islamic scholars kept both the art and science of medicine alive and moving forward.
But that is not the whole story. Humans did not at first regard death and disease as natural phenomena. Common maladies, such as colds or constipation, were accepted as part of existence and dealt with by means of such herbal remedies as were available. Serious and disabling diseases, however, were placed in a very different category. These were of supernatural origin. They might be the result of a spell cast upon the victim by some enemy, visitation by a malevolent demon, or the work of an offended god who had either projected some object—a dart, a stone, a worm—into the body of the victim or had abstracted something, usually the soul of the patient. The treatment then applied was to lure the errant soul back to its proper habitat within the body or to extract the evil intruder, be it dart or demon, by counterspells, incantations, potions, suction, or other means.
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.
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.
Japanese physicians immediately recognized the values of X-Rays. They were able to purchase the equipment locally from the Shimadzu Company, which developed, manufactured, marketed, and distributed X-Ray machines after 1900. Japan not only adopted German methods of public health in the home islands, but implemented them in its colonies, especially Korea and Taiwan, and after 1931 in Manchuria. A heavy investment in sanitation resulted in a dramatic increase of life expectancy.
The medicinal leech has been in use for thousands of years, and is even today considered to be a way of restoring venous circulation after reconstructive surgery. But it was in the early 19th century that the leech really soared in popularity. Led by French physician François-Joseph-Victor Broussais (1772–1838), who postulated that all disease stemmed from local inflammation treatable by bloodletting, the ‘leech craze’ saw barrels of the creatures shipped across the globe, wild leech populations decimated almost to extinction, and the establishment of prosperous leech farms.
When I sold the practice to my partner he converted the practice to a membership model and has continued to be successful, but with less patients and staff. I am now taking over and expanding a new practice and have asked both the owners to read this as we are transitioning the practice from a limited scope practice to a Functional Medicine practice. I have also recommended this book to friends who are looking to enjoy medicine again and are considering getting into Functional Medicine. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a better understanding of what Functional Medicine is and how to transition into a practice that will enable them to help many people that are today stuck in the cycle of disease = medication. This is not alternative medicine, it is a continuum of the science-based approach that those of us trained in western medicine have grown up in. The difference is it gives you the tools to "go upstream" and help patients to achieve true wellness. Once you start helping people at this level the biggest problem is having too many patients wanting to see you.