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The History of Medicine (2)

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Continuing from the last issue, this article will discuss the history of medicine.

The Ayurveda of India:
Ayurvedic medicine is another system that is thought to have developed earlier than medicine in the West. Like Chinese medicine, it has greatly remained the same throughout its history. It too views health as a balance between a person and the environment, and it is a historical system that has taken climate, work, eating habitat and emotions into account.

The theory of Ayurvedic medicine conceders forces around the human body and gives them the name "five elements" which are earth, air, fire, water and the life force which is known as "prana".

Because many Indians are vegetarian, Ayurvedic medicine mainly consists of plant remedies. Liquorice, ginger, pomegranate, myrrh, garlic and aloe are among the herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Greek Medicine:
In the 5th century B.C., Ancient Greece had the theory that life was based on the four elements; earth, air, fire and water.

It was also believed that these four forces were represented in the human body as black bile, blood, yellow bile and phlegm.

Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who is still referred to as the father of medicine, presented around 300 remedies, including many that are still used today, such as chamomile, cassia, garlic and cinnamon.

Treatment was adjusted to the individuals and involved diet, massage, water therapy and rest. Even the best Greek physicians had little knowledge about how the remedies worked, but they watched their patients’ progress and tried to build their skills.

Medicine in the Roman Period:
Romans mixed medicine with magic and religion, and they based their medicine on the Hippocratic treatment.

Romans discovered the early type of aspirin, which is white willow; they would prescribe it for pain. They also discovered many poison antidotes.

Medicine in Islam:
While Europe was in the dark ages, Islamic Arabia was in the golden ages. For 1200 years after the decline of Rome, it was the Muslim Empire that kept Greek medicine alive. The Arabs added remedies such as camphor, musk, nux vomica and borax.

The Arabs based the roles of public and personal hygiene in the prevention of disease. The resulting Greco-Islamic medicine was described in an encyclopaedia, "The Canon Medicine" written by Ibn Sina in the 11th century. 

Radwa Samir -

Radwa Samir has a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from Cairo University.

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Last Updated on Monday, 25 December 2006 22:08  

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