Mental illnesses were well known in ancient Mesopotamia, where diseases and mental disorders were believed to be caused by specific deities. Because hands symbolized control over a person, mental illnesses were known as "hands" of certain deities. One psychological illness was known as Qāt Ištar, meaning "Hand of Ishtar". Others were known as "Hand of Shamash", "Hand of the Ghost", and "Hand of the God". Descriptions of these illnesses, however, are so vague that it is usually impossible to determine which illnesses they correspond to in modern terminology. Mesopotamian doctors kept detailed record of their patients' hallucinations and assigned spiritual meanings to them. A patient who hallucinated that he was seeing a dog was predicted to die; whereas, if he saw a gazelle, he would recover. The royal family of Elam was notorious for its members frequently suffering from insanity. Erectile dysfunction was recognized as being rooted in psychological problems.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast we are sharing a special interview that was part of the "11 days of Global Unity" whch featured luminaires like Dr. Deepak Chopra, Ralph Nader and many more. This interview was originally conducted by Rick Ulfik from We, The World. He interviews Dr. Rangan Chatterjee and James Maskell about the work they are doing, the future of medicine, the current state of functional medicine, and how we see medicine shifting in the rest of this century. It was a great session, and at the time we received so much feedback that people enjoyed it. The interview has not been available since the Summit ended, so we wanted to share it in this podcast.
Evolutionary medicine or Darwinian medicine is the application of modern evolutionary theory to understanding health and disease. Modern medical research and practice have focused on the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying health and disease, while evolutionary medicine focuses on the question of why evolution has shaped these mechanisms in ways that may leave us susceptible to disease. The evolutionary approach has driven important advances in our understanding of cancer, autoimmune disease, and anatomy. Medical schools have been slower to integrate evolutionary approaches because of limitations on what can be added to existing medical curricula.
Responding to a growing consumer movement, Congress passes two major pieces of legislation: the Wheeler-Lea Act, which allows the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute against companies whose advertising deceives and harms consumers; and the Copeland Bill, which expands the Food and Drug Administration's power to regulate drug and food safety, and extends its oversight to include cosmetics.
During the 16th century there were some improvements in medicine. However it remained basically the same as in the Middle Ages. Medicine was still dominated by the theory of the four humors. In 1546 a man Girolamo Fracastoro published a book called On Contagion. He suggested that infectious diseases were caused by 'disease seeds', which were carried by the wind or transmitted by touch. Unfortunately there was no way of testing his theory.
The IFM survey data showed that very few practitioners were successful when attempting to make this transition and felt there were too many barriers to entry when transitioning from traditional western medicine to a Functional Medicine practice. We're so grateful to Dr. Caire for sharing her journey, tips, and successes to help shorten the learning curve for the rest of us.
Among its many surgical descriptions, the Sushruta Samhita documents cataract surgery. The patient had to look at the tip of his or her nose while the surgeon, holding the eyelids apart with thumb and index finger, used a needle-like instrument to pierce the eyeball from the side. It was then sprinkled with breast milk and the outside of the eye bathed with a herbal medication. The surgeon used the instrument to scrape out the clouded lens until the eye “assumed the glossiness of a resplendent cloudless sun”. During recovery it was important for the patient to avoiding coughing, sneezing, burping or anything else that might cause pressure in the eye. If the operation were a success, the patient would regain some useful vision, albeit unfocused.
Maintaining a comfortable state of health is a goal shared by much of the world’s population past and present, thus the history of health and medicine weaves a thread connecting us with our ancestors’ human experiences. Yet it’s easy to assume that studying it involves either celebrating the ‘eureka moments’ of well-known heroes or laughing at outdated therapies. But, as I set out to show in my book, The History of Medicine in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2015), medicine’s past features plenty of lesser-known but equally fascinating episodes…
Across Europe medical schools relied primarily on lectures and readings. The final year student would have limited clinical experience by trailing the professor through the wards. Laboratory work was uncommon, and dissections were rarely done because of legal restrictions on cadavers. Most schools were small, and only Edinburgh, Scotland, with 11,000 alumni, produced large numbers of graduates.
As infectious diseases have become less lethal, and the most common causes of death in developed countries are now tumors and cardiovascular diseases, these conditions have received increased attention in medical research. Tobacco smoking as a cause of lung cancer was first researched in the 1920s, but was not widely supported by publications until the 1950s. Cancer treatment has been developed with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgical oncology.
Unfortunately in the 17th century medicine was still handicapped by wrong ideas about the human body. Most doctors still thought that there were four fluids or 'humors' in the body, blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Illness resulted when you had too much of one humor. Nevertheless during the 17th century a more scientific approach to medicine emerged and some doctors began to question traditional ideas. Apart from Harvey the most famous English doctor of the 17th century was Thomas Sydenham (1624-1689). He is sometimes called the English Hippocrates because he emphasized the importance of carefully observing patients and their symptoms.
The Evolution of Medicine provides step-by-step instruction for building a successful "community micropractice", one that engages both the patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership focused on the body as a whole rather than isolated symptoms. This invaluable handbook will awaken health professionals to exciting new career possibilities. At the same time, it will alleviate the fear of abandoning a conventional medical system that is bad for doctors, patients, and payers, as well as being ineffectual in the treatment of chronic ailments.