Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Herbal remedies II - Hippocrates and Galen

Here it is the full book about the writings of Hippocrates and Galen, translated by John Redman Coxe in 1846. If you are a fan of the past, or if you want to have a peek at what the ones of the Old where thinking, and how did they used the herbs and not only, this is the book.

Short introduction:

Galen (c. 129 - c. 216/17 CE)
Galen was born in Greece, studied medicine in Egypt and became the most celebrated physician in the Roman Empire. His theories were to dominate Western medical thinking for centuries after his death. A radical and innovative experimenter, he considered dissection a key tool in understanding the human body. Although he was restricted by law to dissecting animals, the three years he spent from 158 CE as physician to the gladiators of his home city of Pergamon were a formative period in his life in medicine. The traumatic injuries he regularly encountered gave Galen the perfect opportunity to extend his practical medical knowledge of the human body. Galen was greatly influenced by the working methods of Hippocrates and other earlier Greek doctors. He similarly advocated the humoral theory of the body and like Hippocrates he also placed great importance on clinical observation through careful examination of patients and the recording of their symptoms. Galen paid particular attention to an individual’s pulse, monitoring it for abnormalities and using it as a tool to diagnose disease and suggest possible treatments. Feeling a patient’s pulse remains a standard diagnostic procedure to this day. Galen was a prolific writer. He was widely known in his lifetime, but his prolonged influence owed much to the Islamic scholars who absorbed, reproduced and added to his body of work in the early medieval period. Subsequently these works were re-translated in the West, where they effectively remained beyond criticism until the Renaissance. In that new age of experimentation and investigation the fault lines in much of his work began to be revealed and many of his theories and techniques were gradually replaced or amended by the likes of Vesalius and William Harvey. Despite this, Galen remains a towering figure in the history of medicine.

Hyppocrates (c. 460 - c. 370 BCE)
Hippocrates was a Greek philosopher and physician who has been called ‘the father of medicine’. He and his followers dismissed the idea that illness was simply caused or cured by superstitions, spirits or gods. Instead, he argued for a rational approach to medical treatment based on close observation of the individual patient. However, so little is known about the man himself that some scholars have questioned whether he was a real person at all. In Hippocratic medicine, effective treatment relied on considering the patient as a whole. Diet, sleep, work and exercise were all seen as important factors that could play a role in producing - and reversing - the imbalance in humours that was believed to result in illness. Diseases were allowed to run their natural course with treatment restricted mainly to the careful use of specific herbal medicines. Surgery was very much seen as a last resort. Hippocrates is believed to have founded a medical school on Kos - the island of his birth - where his students helped to spread his ideas. A collection of ancient written works associated with Hippocrates and his teachings, known as ‘The Hippocratic Corpus’, was a huge influence on the development of medicine in the centuries that followed. The Hippocratic oath was most probably compiled by a number of authors, but echoes elements of his philosophy and has an enduring legacy as the ethical framework for the medical profession.

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