Author Topic: History of Medicine  (Read 2143 times)


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History of Medicine
« on: June 27, 2012, 07:01:27 pm »
Ever wondered how it all started? How did the prehistoric men know anything about injuries or health? How did human knowledge evolve from knowing nothing to knowing a little-too-much?

Interesting, isn't it? (well, its to me atleast  ::)).

I plan to post about them - from prehistoric era to Ancient Egyptian to modern medicine. Read and participate if you are interested  ;D


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Re: History of Medicine
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2012, 06:32:10 pm »
Prehistoric Medicine (3000 BC to AD 43):

How do we know about what life was like so long ago?

There were no written records available at this time, so we have to rely on the findings of archaeologists.
Archaeologists have studied skeletons from prehistoric times (including ones found individually and those found in large tombs) and well-preserved bodies found in peat bogs. Cave paintings can also give evidence of what life was like.

The study of skeletons and preserved bodies can yield the following evidence:
-what sorts of diseases prehistoric people suffered from
-what condition their bones and teeth were in
-whether physical work or warfare caused death or deformity
-what they ate for their last meal
-how old they were when they died.

Medical knowledge and beliefs
Archaeologists have found some evidence that suggests what the beliefs of prehistoric people were. Cave paintings give clues about what people thought caused some diseases. Other evidence, such as charms, provide further clues about these beliefs.
To confirm their ideas, historians have talked to groups of people, such as some Aborigines in Australia, whose lifestyles have not changed for thousands of years. By examining their beliefs and practices we can get an insight into prehistoric life.

Aboriginal beliefs and treatments
Those Aborigines who still follow their traditional culture believe that everyone has their own spirit inside themselves. If a person becomes ill, it is because their spirit has left them, or an evil spirit has entered their body.
To get treatment, Aborigines go to a Medicine Man who knows all about spirits. He puts his patient into a trance by singing and chanting and then massages the sick area which releases the spirit and the patient is cured.

Traditionally, Aborigines also wore charms to keep evil spirits away, and buried their cut-off nails and hair and their excrement, probably to prevent spirits casting spells on them.
All through the history of medicine we find the use of herbal medicine to cure illness and disease, and the Aborigines are no exception. Many women treat their families with herbal remedies and use recipes handed down over thousands of years.

Prehistoric people understood that some medical problems were the result of natural causes, and would treat the problems using natural remedies. For example, an open wound might be covered up.

When the causes of an ailment weren't understood, the problem was believed to have supernatural causes. For example, a fit would be thought to be caused by the body being possessed by a spirit.

There was very limited use of surgery in prehistoric times. One amazing operation did take place. This was trepanning or trephining, which involved cutting a hole in the skull, possibly to release evil spirits which were causing illness.
Archaeological evidence suggests that people did survive trepanning, although we don't know whether it had any positive effects.

Was the state of medicine and health the same everywhere at this time?
No. While medicine in prehistoric Britain and many other places were primitive, elsewhere in the world there were some countries which were highly civilized and advanced.
The Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations all developed comfortable lifestyles, with an emphasis on hygiene and medical care.

 Prehistoric people lived in small groups and were nomadic, meaning they constantly moved about.
They were hunter gatherer's - everything was done by hand.
Life was generally hard, but they were physically fit. There were cases of tooth decay, broken bone and osteoarthritis.

Source; Attached

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Re: History of Medicine
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 01:42:09 pm »
Interesting (Y)
Download SF Magazine 2012 here.


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Re: History of Medicine
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 05:28:50 pm »
Hebrew Medicine.

Hebrew on Timeline:-
  • The name "Hebrew" means people "from the other bank of the river," that is, of the Euphrates;
  • Abraham found the race Hebrew and it first appeared in Mesopotamia.

The Hebrews were doubtlessly influenced in their medical concepts and practices by the surrounding nations, particularly by Egypt, where medical knowledge was highly developed. Prevailing superstitions and beliefs in magic medicine were far less accepted and practised by the Jews, however, than by their neighbours. biblical remedies and treatments are all of a rational character and do not involve incantations or magic rites, nor do they include the so-called "filth pharmacy." Biblical therapeutics consisted of washing; the use of oils, balsams, and bandages for wounds and bone fractures; bathing in therapeutic waters (II Kings 5:10), especially in the case of skin diseases; sun rays, medicated drinks, etc.

Medicinal Practise

  • Ancient hebrew medicine was sanctioned by biblical and Talmudic law.
  • Biblical therapeutics consisted of washing; the use of oils, balsams, and bandages for wounds and bone fractures;
Among medicaments mentioned by name are myrrh, sweet cinnamon, cassia, galbanum, niter, and the mandrake (duda?im) which was considered to possess aphrodisiac properties.


  • About 1000 BC, David king of Israel wrote: "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." (Psalm 51:7)
  • Microorganism that produces penicillin grows on hyssop leaves.
Purification of Lepers:-
The next verses that mention hyssop, Leviticus 14:4 and 6, are in a passage describing the purification rite for a former leper. (The Greek and Hebrew words translated as leprosy apparently cover various skin ailments, not just Hansen’s disease--the disease classified as leprosy today.) A priest, having determined the person to be free of leprosy, is to take cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop and dip them in the blood of a sacrificial bird. He is then to take these bloodied items and sprinkle blood on the former leper seven times.


  • Medicine was practiced by professionals called rophe, who seem to have participated in both medicine and surgery.
    The doctors who limited themselves entirely to surgical procedures were referred to as uman.
  • There were probably also veterinary surgeons since one was mentioned in the Talmud by name.

  • The only surgical operations mentioned are circumcision and castration.
  • Most of the anatomical information in the Talmud came from Alexandrian human dissections and from examination of animals to determine whether they were free of abnormality and suitable as kosher food.

Food Laws:-

1)Meat was not to be kept more than 2 days. In the desert they had no refrigeration facilities.
2)The caul above the liver, the diaphragm, was not to be eaten. The muscle might be infected with worms.
3)Flesh that touched any unclean thing was unfit for nourishment. Instead, it was burned.
4) The Hebrews were instructed not to consume the flesh of an animal that died of natural causes. The creature may have been infected.  [/li][/list]

After the victim had been cured, he was allowed seven days for purification. His clothing was laundered and his body was washed with running water.
Anyone who handled the carcass of an unclean animal was contaminated for the remainder of the day. A bath was required.

Hebrew & Islamic Civilization:-

Rabbn al-Tabari (Sahl), a Jew converted to Islam who lived in Persia, was a noted physician, mathematician, and astronomer.
Rabban’s son, Ali al-Tabar Abu al-Hasan served as court physician to caliphs from 833 to 861,
He is believed to have been the first medical author in Arabic whose works were brought to Europe.

Renowned as an ophthalmologist. His Paradise of Wisdom dealt with medicine, embryology, astronomy, and zoology and was one of the first original Arabic medical textbooks.
He is best known as the teacher of the Arab physician Al Razi (Rhazes).

« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 05:32:50 pm by Amelia »