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]
Unwritten history is not easy to interpret, and, although much may be learned from a study of the drawings, bony remains, and surgical tools of early humans, it is difficult to reconstruct their mental attitude toward the problems of disease and death. It seems probable that, as soon as they reached the stage of reasoning, they discovered by the process of trial and error which plants might be used as foods, which of them were poisonous, and which of them had some medicinal value. Folk medicine or domestic medicine, consisting largely in the use of vegetable products, or herbs, originated in this fashion and still persists.
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.
The Nightingale model was widely copied. Linda Richards (1841–1930) studied in London and became the first professionally trained American nurse. She established nursing training programs in the United States and Japan, and created the first system for keeping individual medical records for hospitalized patients.[121] The Russian Orthodox Church sponsored seven orders of nursing sisters in the late 19th century. They ran hospitals, clinics, almshouses, pharmacies, and shelters as well as training schools for nurses. In the Soviet era (1917–1991), with the aristocratic sponsors gone, nursing became a low-prestige occupation based in poorly maintained hospitals.[122]
Mummified bodies provide direct evidence for ailments and their treatments. They have shown us that ancient Egyptians suffered from eye diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, bladder, kidney and gallstones, bilharzia, arterial disease, gout and appendicitis. The tree-bark splints on a 5,000 year old mummified arm show that fractures were splinted. Most bone fractures found archaeologically are healed, further proof of good medical care.

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.
Spearheaded by faculty in the HMS Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, a report by The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery reveals that 5 billion people are unable to access safe, timely and affordable surgery, leading to 18.6 million preventable deaths each year worldwide. The report also presents a blueprint for developing properly functioning surgical systems globally.
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.

Since its founding in 1967, the Medical School’s Program in the History of Medicine has been dedicated to research and teaching in the intellectual, political, cultural, and social history of disease, health care, and medical science. The history of medicine provides students with a historical perspective on the role health, medicine, and disease play in society today. It prepares students to think critically about historical and contemporary health issues.

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.
The advances in medicine made a dramatic difference for Allied troops, while the Germans and especially the Japanese and Chinese suffered from a severe lack of newer medicines, techniques and facilities. Harrison finds that the chances of recovery for a badly wounded British infantryman were as much as 25 times better than in the First World War. The reason was that:

This week on the Evolution ​of Medicine podcast, we are back with the fifth installment of the "State of the Evolution" with co-founders of the Evolution of Medicine, James Maskell and Gabe Hoffman.  Twice a year we look back at ground take-in the last six months and look forward to the next six. We're excited to share with you what's happened and what to expect during the first half of 2017.
In the American Civil War (1861–65), as was typical of the 19th century, more soldiers died of disease than in battle, and even larger numbers were temporarily incapacitated by wounds, disease and accidents.[131] Conditions were poor in the Confederacy, where doctors and medical supplies were in short supply.[132] The war had a dramatic long-term impact on medicine in the U.S., from surgical technique to hospitals to nursing and to research facilities. Weapon development -particularly the appearance of Springfield Model 1861, mass-produced and much more accurate than muskets led to generals underestimating the risks of long range rifle fire; risks exemplified in the death of John Sedgwick and the disastrous Pickett's Charge. The rifles could shatter bone forcing amputation and longer ranges meant casualties were sometimes not quickly found. Evacuation of the wounded from Second Battle of Bull Run took a week.[133] As in earlier wars, untreated casualties sometimes survived unexpectedly due to maggots debriding the wound -an observation which led to the surgical use of maggots -still a useful method in the absence of effective antibiotics.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries anthropologists studied primitive societies. Among them treatment for injury and sickness was a mixture of common sense and magic. People knew, of course, that falls cause broken bones and fire causes burns. Animal bites or human weapons cause wounds. Primitive people had simple treatments for these things e.g. Australian Aborigines covered broken arms in clay, which hardened in the hot sun. Cuts were covered with fat or clay and bound up with animal skins or bark. However primitive people had no idea what caused illness. They assumed it was caused by evil spirits or magic performed by an enemy. The 'cure' was magic to drive out the evil spirit or break the enemies spell.

Utilizing the Delphi method, 56 experts from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, medicine, and biology agreed upon 14 core principles intrinsic to the education and practice of evolutionary medicine.[5] These 14 principles can be further grouped into five general categories: question framing, evolution I and II (with II involving a higher level of complexity), evolutionary trade-offs, reasons for vulnerability, and culture. Additional information regarding these principles may be found in the table below.

Last time we featured her, the Evolution of Medicine community showed support and interest that made a real difference. Thank you! We bring her back this week to share an update about Organize.  She and her team were recently at the White House to speak about their project with some important influencers from the industry.  She shares with us what she learned and what they were able to accomplish.


At the same time Greek doctors developed a rational theory of disease and sought cures. However one did not replace the other. The cult of Asclepius and Greek medicine existed side by side. Medical schools were formed in Greece and in Greek colonies around the Mediterranean. As early as 500 BC a man named Alcmaeon from Croton in Italy said that a body was healthy if it had the right balance of hot and cold, wet and dry. It the balance was upset the body grew ill. However the most famous Greek doctor is Hippocrates (C.460-377 BC). (Although historians now believe that he was much less famous in his own time that was once thought. It is believed that many of the medical books ascribed to him were actually written by other men). Hippocrates stressed that doctors should carefully observe the patients symptoms and take note of them. Hippocrates also rejected all magic and he believed in herbal remedies.
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…
Pasteur realized the germs that had been left exposed to the air had been weakened. When the chickens were injected with the weakened germs they had developed immunity to the disease. Pasteur and his team went on to create a vaccine for anthrax by keeping anthrax germs heated to 42-43 degrees centigrade for 8 days. In 1882 they created a vaccine for rabies. A co-worker dried the spines of rabbits that had contracted the disease in glass jars. Pasteur tried giving a series of injections made from the dried spines to animals to test the remedy. Then, in 1885, Pasteur successfully used the vaccine on a boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog. Pasteur also invented a way of sterilizing liquids by heating them (called pasteurization). It was first used for wine (in 1864) and later for milk.

The practice of medicine changed in the face of rapid advances in science, as well as new approaches by physicians. Hospital doctors began much more systematic analysis of patients' symptoms in diagnosis.[113] Among the more powerful new techniques were anaesthesia, and the development of both antiseptic and aseptic operating theatres.[114] Effective cures were developed for certain endemic infectious diseases. However the decline in many of the most lethal diseases was due more to improvements in public health and nutrition than to advances in medicine.
1867 Joseph Lister publishes Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery, one of the most important developments in medicine. Lister was convinced of the need for cleanliness in the operating room, a revolutionary idea at the time. He develops antiseptic surgical methods, using carbolic acid to clean wounds and surgical instruments. The immediate success of his methods leads to general adoption. In one hospital that adopts his methods, deaths from infection decrease from nearly 60% to just 4%.
^ Bynum, W.F. (1974). "Rationales for therapy in British psychiatry: 1780–1835". Medical History. 18 (4): 317–34. doi:10.1017/s0025727300019761. PMC 1081592. PMID 4618306.; Digby, Anne (1988). "Moral Treatment at the Retreat 1796–1846". In Porter, Roy; Bynum, W.F.; Shepherd, Michael. The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry. 2. London & New York: Tavistock. pp. 52–71. ISBN 978-0415008594.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we feature Steven Feyrer-Melk, PhD, co-founder of a preventative cardiology practice, The Optimal Heart Center and Chief Science Officer of Nudge Coach, a lifestyle medicine technology company. Nudge has sponsored the Functional Forum and the Evolution of Medicine podcast in the past year and has worked with us to bring our community of practitioners a valuable addition to their practices that allows every patient to feel supported at all times.
In the paper, Radin explores how frozen colonial pasts operate in the service of biological futures. Radin’s research refigures sample collection, induction and cryogenic suspension as modes of colonial science. Following histories of frozen blood samples collected from indigenous populations in the postwar period, Radin reveals a cryopolitics of “not letting die,” in the service of some future biological development. Radin’s impressive body of work offers unique contributions to the study of Cold War, postcolonial technoscience, genomics, big data, climate history, extinction, science fiction and speculative futures.
After AD 400, the study and practice of medicine in the Western Roman Empire went into deep decline. Medical services were provided, especially for the poor, in the thousands of monastic hospitals that sprang up across Europe, but the care was rudimentary and mainly palliative.[69] Most of the writings of Galen and Hippocrates were lost to the West, with the summaries and compendia of St. Isidore of Seville being the primary channel for transmitting Greek medical ideas.[70] The Carolingian renaissance brought increased contact with Byzantium and a greater awareness of ancient medicine,[71] but only with the twelfth-century renaissance and the new translations coming from Muslim and Jewish sources in Spain, and the fifteenth-century flood of resources after the fall of Constantinople did the West fully recover its acquaintance with classical antiquity.

Around 800 BCE Homer in The Iliad gives descriptions of wound treatment by the two sons of Asklepios, the admirable physicians Podaleirius and Machaon and one acting doctor, Patroclus. Because Machaon is wounded and Podaleirius is in combat Eurypylus asks Patroclus to cut out this arrow from my thigh, wash off the blood with warm water and spread soothing ointment on the wound.[35] Asklepios like Imhotep becomes god of healing over time.


This week on the Evolution of Medicine podcast, we feature, authors, Glenn Sabin and Taylor Walsh. Their book is called The Rise of Integrative Health and Medicine: The Milestones - 1963 to Present. It features over 120 of the most significant accomplishments in the field during the last 54 years. Evolution of Medicine is proud to be among the chosen milestones.
Great overview of what it takes to learn and run a Functional Medicine (science-based, systems biology, Integrative) medical practice. I started a Functional Medicine practice in 2009. I wish this book was and approach was available then. There were a lot of growing pains, many of which may have been avoided with the best practices approach outlined in this book. We started out in a fully insurance based practice and at 5 years we were very successful. However, we were also very burnt out. We had talked about creating a model that could be used to help providers make the switch. The bottom line in my experience is that most people can't do that when they're in the trenches seeing patients and learning by trial and error. We never advertised after the initial announcement that we were opening. From there it is was all word of mouth.
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