Humans evolved to live as simple hunter-gatherers in small tribal bands. Contemporary humans now have a very different environment and way of life. This change makes present humans vulnerable to a number of health problems, termed "diseases of civilization" and "diseases of affluence". Stone-age humans evolved to live off the land, taking advantage of the resources that were readily available to them. Evolution is slow, and the rapid change from stone-age environments and practices to the world of today is problematic because we are still adapted to stone-age circumstances that no longer apply. This misfit has serious implications for our health. "Modern environments may cause many diseases such as deficiency syndromes like scurvy and rickets".)
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 as a United Nations agency to improve global health. In most of the world, life expectancy has improved since then, and was about 67 years as of 2010, and well above 80 years in some countries. Eradication of infectious diseases is an international effort, and several new vaccines have been developed during the post-war years, against infections such as measles, mumps, several strains of influenza and human papilloma virus. The long-known vaccine against Smallpox finally eradicated the disease in the 1970s, and Rinderpest was wiped out in 2011. Eradication of polio is underway. Tissue culture is important for development of vaccines. Though the early success of antiviral vaccines and antibacterial drugs, antiviral drugs were not introduced until the 1970s. Through the WHO, the international community has developed a response protocol against epidemics, displayed during the SARS epidemic in 2003, the Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 from 2004, the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa and onwards.
Chris Kresser: I think that’s like the biggest change we’re going to see, is the nature of this device will change people’s awareness of health, and that’s incredible to think about. There are so many people who are interested in tech that aren’t necessarily that interested in health. But due to their interest in tech, they’re going to become interested in health, just because that’s going to be one of the main implementations of the iWatch. And as you said, there’s going to be such a big community of people developing software. And what we notice and pay attention to is what we can change. If we’re not aware of something, we can’t change it. And that, to me, is the most exciting factor of this new technology. It’s really going to dramatically increase people’s awareness of things—like how many steps they’re taking, and what kind of food they’re eating, and if they’re tracking that, and their heart rate, and how their heart rate variability might correlate to what type of exercise they should be doing that day. And it’s not just about those kind of specific things that they’re becoming aware of. It’s that focusing even on a few specific things like that is inevitably going to expand their awareness around all aspects of their health. So I think it can really be a revolutionary impact. And I know, as a clinician too, I’m really looking forward to having additional ways that I can both support my patients, by referring them to apps and things that can make implementing some of the recommendations that I give them easier and more practical. But if I need to collect data for something, some of these devices are going to make that a lot easier and they’re going to be able to send it back to me in a way that’s very actionable for me as a clinician. It’s a pretty exciting time to be involved in medicine and particularly the evolution of medicine.
The term ‘technology’ is based on the ancient Greek techné (‘art’, ‘skill’, ‘craft’) (logos means ‘study’). Greek medical texts describe medicine as a techné, suggesting that it was a skill to know why and how to treat a condition. For us, ‘medicine’ is “the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease” (Oxford English Dictionary).
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). 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.
c.484 – 425 BC Herodotus tells us Egyptian doctors were specialists: Medicine is practiced among them on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more. Thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines,and some those which are not local.
c. 484 – 425 BC – Herodotus tells us Egyptian doctors were specialists: Medicine is practiced among them on a plan of separation; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more. Thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, others again of the teeth, others of the intestines,and some those which are not local.
After the atomic bombing at the end of World War II, anxieties about survival in the nuclear age led scientists to begin stockpiling and freezing hundreds of thousands of blood samples from indigenous communities around the world. These samples were believed to embody potentially invaluable biological information about genetic ancestry, evolution, microbes, and much more. In Life on Ice, Joanna Radin examines how and why these frozen blood samples shaped the practice known as biobanking.
In the Middle Ages the church operated hospitals. In 542 a hospital called the Hotel-Dieu was founded in Lyon, France. Another hospital called the Hotel-Dieu was founded in Paris in 1660. The number of hospitals in western Europe greatly increased from the 12th century. In them monks or nuns cared for the sick as best they could. Meanwhile, during the Middle Ages there were many hospitals in the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world.
By the thirteenth century, the medical school at Montpellier began to eclipse the Salernitan school. In the 12th century, universities were founded in Italy, France, and England, which soon developed schools of medicine. The University of Montpellier in France and Italy's University of Padua and University of Bologna were leading schools. Nearly all the learning was from lectures and readings in Hippocrates, Galen, Avicenna, and Aristotle.
1901 Austrian-American Karl Landsteiner describes blood compatibility and rejection (i.e., what happens when a person receives a blood transfusion from another human of either compatible or incompatible blood type), developing the ABO system of blood typing. This system classifies the bloods of human beings into A, B, AB, and O groups. Landsteiner receives the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for this discovery.
Many contemporary humans engage in little physical exercise compared to the physically active lifestyles of ancestral hunter-gatherers. Prolonged periods of inactivity may have only occurred in early humans following illness or injury, so a modern sedentary lifestyle may continuously cue the body to trigger life preserving metabolic and stress-related responses such as inflammation, and some theorize that this causes chronic diseases.
Because of the social custom that men and women should not be near to one another, the women of China were reluctant to be treated by male doctors. The missionaries sent women doctors such as Dr. Mary Hannah Fulton (1854–1927). Supported by the Foreign Missions Board of the Presbyterian Church (US) she in 1902 founded the first medical college for women in China, the Hackett Medical College for Women, in Guangzhou.
^ Jump up to: a b Askitopoulou, H.; Konsolaki, E.; Ramoutsaki, I.; Anastassaki, E. (2002). Surgical cures by sleep induction as the Asclepieion of Epidaurus. The history of anesthesia: proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium, by José Carlos Diz, Avelino Franco, Douglas R. Bacon, J. Rupreht, Julián Alvarez. Elsevier Science B.V., International Congress Series 1242. pp. 11–17. ISBN 978-0444512932.
Unethical human subject research, and killing of patients with disabilities, peaked during the Nazi era, with Nazi human experimentation and Aktion T4 during the Holocaust as the most significant examples. Many of the details of these and related events were the focus of the Doctors' Trial. Subsequently, principles of medical ethics, such as the Nuremberg Code, were introduced to prevent a recurrence of such atrocities. After 1937, the Japanese Army established programs of biological warfare in China. In Unit 731, Japanese doctors and research scientists conducted large numbers of vivisections and experiments on human beings, mostly Chinese victims.
Two great Alexandrians laid the foundations for the scientific study of anatomy and physiology, Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Ceos. Other Alexandrian surgeons gave us ligature (hemostasis), lithotomy, hernia operations, ophthalmic surgery, plastic surgery, methods of reduction of dislocations and fractures, tracheotomy, and mandrake as an anaesthetic. Some of what we know of them comes from Celsus and Galen of Pergamum.