In Britain, there were but three small hospitals after 1550. Pelling and Webster estimate that in London in the 1580 to 1600 period, out of a population of nearly 200,000 people, there were about 500 medical practitioners. Nurses and midwives are not included. There were about 50 physicians, 100 licensed surgeons, 100 apothecaries, and 250 additional unlicensed practitioners. In the last category about 25% were women. All across Britain—and indeed all of the world—the vast majority of the people in city, town or countryside depended for medical care on local amateurs with no professional training but with a reputation as wise healers who could diagnose problems and advise sick people what to do—and perhaps set broken bones, pull a tooth, give some traditional herbs or brews or perform a little magic to cure what ailed them.
The first medical schools were opened in the 9th century, most notably the Schola Medica Salernitana at Salerno in southern Italy. The cosmopolitan influences from Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew sources gave it an international reputation as the Hippocratic City. Students from wealthy families came for three years of preliminary studies and five of medical studies. The medicine, following the laws of Federico II, that he founded in 1224 the University ad improved the Schola Salernitana, in the period between 1200 and 1400, it had in Sicily (so-called Sicilian Middle Ages) a particular development so much to create a true school of Jewish medicine.
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.
Greek historian Herodotus stated that every Babylonian was an amateur physician, since it was the custom to lay the sick in the street so that anyone passing by might offer advice. Divination, from the inspection of the liver of a sacrificed animal, was widely practiced to foretell the course of a disease. Little else is known regarding Babylonian medicine, and the name of not a single physician has survived.
We welcome Dr. Sonza Curtis as part of our Success Leaves Clues. Dr. Curtis graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, with a Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. She then went on to complete her Doctorate of Naturopathy for Health Care Professionals. In 2014, Dr. Curtis became one of only three Georgia doctors Certified in Functional Medicine.
The snakeroot plant has traditionally been a tonic in the east to calm patients; it is now used in orthodox medical practice to reduce blood pressure. Doctors in ancient India gave an extract of foxglove to patients with legs swollen by dropsy, an excess of fluid resulting from a weak heart; digitalis, a constituent of foxglove, is now a standard stimulant for the heart. Curare, smeared on the tip of arrows in the Amazonian jungle to paralyze the prey, is an important muscle relaxant in modern surgery.
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. 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.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine, we continue our popular “Success Leaves Clues” series. We feature Dr. Bill Hemmer, a chiropractor from central Illinois who is bringing functional medicine to his small hometown with a population of only 4500. It was an incredible half an hour for any health professional who is in the business of trying to transform the health of their community.
James Maskell: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s cool as well. So in this summit, we have a doctor track as well as a patient track. And in the doctor track, we’re actually talking about some of the ways that this is actually being delivered. And there are ways to deliver functional medicine on insurance. We’re featuring the group visit model in one of the doctor-specific tracks. That’s been very successful at bringing people together, developing a community around groups of people with the same disease. They want accountability. They want support. They want to hear from other people that have the same issues as them. So that’s working and that’s going to be included in the functional center at Cleveland Clinic. And then also health coaches. They’re looking at using different providers together, so you can have higher-cost and lower-cost providers working together. So it’s really exciting. I feel like once we get more and more organizations doing it that are credible, people will work out how to get this done on insurance and how to do this at a bigger scale. The first thing is just the clinical acceptance that’s been a long time coming.
This week on the Evolution of Medicine, we welcome our first guest host. Could it be anyone else than Dr. Kelly Brogan? Dr. Brogan is a holistic psychiatrist and has been a frequent guest speaker on the Functional Forum. She is the author of A Mind of Your Own and has been an incredible supporter of the Evolution of Medicine from the start. She interviews James Maskell about his brand new book, The Evolution of Medicine.
1950s: A series of successful anti-psychotic drugs are introduced that do not cure psychosis but control its symptoms. The first of the anti-psychotics, the major class of drug used to treat psychosis, is discovered in France in 1952 and is named chlorpromazine (Thorazine). Studies show that 70 percent of patients with schizophrenia clearly improve on anti-psychotic drugs.