GCSE History Medicine Part 1 – Ancient Medicine

Revision Notes for the ancient medicine section of Edexcel unit 1A - Medicine

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GCSE History
Medicine Part 1 ­ Ancient Medicine
Ancient Ideas about Illness
The Four Humours
The Ancient Greeks thought that everyone had a mix of four humours in their body
They thought that a person would become ill if their humours became unbalanced
The humours were: Blood, Yellow bile, Black bile and Phlegm
This idea continued well into the middle ages
The Theory of Opposites
Developed by a 2nd century doctor called Galen
Was a type of treatment based on balancing a person's humours
For example, if a person had too much phlegm, a person would wat red peppers as
phlegm was linked to the cold
Century doctor
Carried out dissections and drew diagrams to explain human anatomy
Many were convinced his ideas were right, they dominated medicine for 1500 years
He operated on gladiators and had a good knowledge of anatomy
Developed the four humours into the theory of opposites
Ancient Greek doctor
Dismissed the idea that Gods caused disease
Most of his treatments were based on diet, exercise and rest
Invented the idea of the four humours
Method of observation, studying symptoms and comparing are still used today
Roman Medicine and treatment
Roman ideas about disease
Supernatural reasons ­ Disease was caused by the Gods
Disease was linked to bad smells
Illness was caused by an imbalance in a person's humours
Treating the sick in Roman Britain
Treatment was based on the four humours and prayer
Prayers and offerings were made to the Gods
Water in Roman baths was thought to have healing qualities
Celtic and druid knowledge of herbs and plats was used to make medicines

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Most illness or injuries would be treated by the father using remedies passed down
through the family
Roman Doctors
Not widely respected
Many were foreign
Formal training wasn't required
Learnt from books by Galen or Hippocrates or other doctors
Some trained in Alexandria, Egypt where human dissection was legal
Public Health in Roman Britain
Improvements in public health
Romans realised that there was a link between dirt and disease
Built towns away from marshes and swamps
Most towns had public baths
Aqueducts and pipes brought…read more


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