This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we welcome Gladys McGarey. At 97 years old, Galdys is a true pioneer in holistic and living medicine and we're absolutely thrilled to welcome her to the podcast. Dr. Gladys is internationally recognized as the Mother of Holistic Medicine. Dr. Gladys, as she is affectionately known, is board certified in Holistic and Integrated Medicine and has held a family practice for more than sixty years.
During the 18th century the mentally ill were not regarded as 'truly' human. It was thought that they did not have human feelings. They were therefore confined in chains. People paid to visit asylums and see the insane as if they were animals in a zoo. However in 1793 a doctor called Philippe Pinel argued that the insane should be released and treated humanely. As an experiment he was allowed to release some patients. The experiment worked and attitudes to the insane began to change.
The operation, Felkin reported, was carried out with the intention of saving both lives. The mother was partially anaesthetised with banana wine. The surgeon also used this wine to wash the surgical site and his own hands, suggesting awareness of the need for infection control measures. He then made a vertical incision, going through the abdominal wall and part of the uterine wall, before further dividing the uterine wall enough to take the baby out. The operation also involved removing the placenta and squeezing the uterus to promote contraction.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we welcome Brian Mulvaney, Director of Strategy at CrossFit. If you’ve been part of our community for awhile, you know that we’re working towards helping create 100k micropractices. Our plan for micropractices very much mirrors the Crossfit strategy – reduce the overhead, empower individuals to become entrepreneurs.
A towering figure in the history of medicine was the physician Hippocrates of Kos (c. 460 – c. 370 BCE), considered the "father of modern medicine." The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of around seventy early medical works from ancient Greece strongly associated with Hippocrates and his students. Most famously, the Hippocratics invented the Hippocratic Oath for physicians. Contemporary physicians swear an oath of office which includes aspects found in early editions of the Hippocratic Oath.
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.
510–430 BC – Alcmaeon of Croton scientific anatomic dissections. He studied the optic nerves and the brain, arguing that the brain was the seat of the senses and intelligence. He distinguished veins from the arteries and had at least vague understanding of the circulation of the blood. Variously described by modern scholars as Father of Anatomy; Father of Physiology; Father of Embryology; Father of Psychology; Creator of Psychiatry; Founder of Gynecology; and as the Father of Medicine itself. There is little evidence to support the claims but he is, nonetheless, important.
1870s Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch establish the germ theory of disease. According to germ theory, a specific disease is caused by a specific organism. Before this discovery, most doctors believe diseases are caused by spontaneous generation. In fact, doctors would perform autopsies on people who died of infectious diseases and then care for living patients without washing their hands, not realizing that they were therefore transmitting the disease.
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.
1953 James Watson and Francis Crick at Cambridge University describe the structure of the DNA molecule. Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin at King's College in London are also studying DNA. (Wilkins in fact shares Franklin's data with Watson and Crick without her knowledge.) Watson, Crick, and Wilkins share the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1962 (Franklin had died and the Nobel Prize only goes to living recipients).
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.
The earliest known physician is also credited to ancient Egypt: Hesy-Ra, "Chief of Dentists and Physicians" for King Djoser in the 27th century BCE. Also, the earliest known woman physician, Peseshet, practiced in Ancient Egypt at the time of the 4th dynasty. Her title was "Lady Overseer of the Lady Physicians." In addition to her supervisory role, Peseshet trained midwives at an ancient Egyptian medical school in Sais.
Later in Roman times Galen (130-200 AD) became a famous doctor. At first he worked treating wounded gladiators. Then in 169 AD he was made doctor to Commodus, the Roman Emperor's son. Galen was also a writer and he wrote many books. Galen believed the theory of the four humors. He also believed in treating illness with opposites. So if a patient had a cold Galen gave him something hot like pepper. Galen was also interested in anatomy. Unfortunately by his time dissecting human bodies was forbidden. So Galen had to dissect animal bodies including apes. However animal bodies are not the same as human bodies and so some of Galen's ideas were quite wrong. Unfortunately Galen was a very influential writer. For centuries his writings dominated medicine.
Another great surgeon was Ambroise Pare. In the 16th century surgeons put oil on wounds. However in 1536 during the siege of Turin Pare ran out of oil. He made a mixture of egg whites, rose oil and turpentine and discovered it worked better than oil. Pare also designed artificial limbs. In 1513 a man named Eucharius Roslin published a book about childbirth called Rosengarten. In 1540 an English translation called The Birth of Mankind was published. It became a standard text although midwives were women.
In London, the crown allowed two hospitals to continue their charitable work, under nonreligious control of city officials. The convents were all shut down but Harkness finds that women—some of them former nuns—were part of a new system that delivered essential medical services to people outside their family. They were employed by parishes and hospitals, as well as by private families, and provided nursing care as well as some medical, pharmaceutical, and surgical services.
Temples dedicated to the healer-god Asclepius, known as Asclepieia (Ancient Greek: Ἀσκληπιεῖα, sing. Ἀσκληπιεῖον, 'Asclepieion), functioned as centers of medical advice, prognosis, and healing. At these shrines, patients would enter a dream-like state of induced sleep known as enkoimesis (ἐγκοίμησις) not unlike anesthesia, in which they either received guidance from the deity in a dream or were cured by surgery. Asclepeia provided carefully controlled spaces conducive to healing and fulfilled several of the requirements of institutions created for healing. In the Asclepeion of Epidaurus, three large marble boards dated to 350 BCE preserve the names, case histories, complaints, and cures of about 70 patients who came to the temple with a problem and shed it there. Some of the surgical cures listed, such as the opening of an abdominal abscess or the removal of traumatic foreign material, are realistic enough to have taken place, but with the patient in a state of enkoimesis induced with the help of soporific substances such as opium. Alcmaeon of Croton wrote on medicine between 500 and 450 BCE. He argued that channels linked the sensory organs to the brain, and it is possible that he discovered one type of channel, the optic nerves, by dissection.
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.