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Having observed the damage done to The Egyptians invented the skills of writing
farmers fields, when an irrigation channel and calculation. Egyptian doctors would
became blocked, the Egyptians developed write down treatments and diseases on
the idea that disease occurred when an evil papyrus which would develop their ideas,
spirit blocked one of the body's channels. and furthermore, would be traded
This led doctors to abandon supernatural internationally.
treatments and to try natural treatments.
Egyptians observed the stars, the seasons Many of their cures were based on what
and the behaviour of the River Nile. Most historians call the 'Channel Theory'. They
thought that they could unblock the
importantly, they carefully observed the
'channels' of the body by making people
state of the irrigation channels that vomit, or bleed, or empty their bowels,
watered their crops. Priests/doctors and that this would cure sickness.
observed the internal organs of the body
during mummification. The Egyptians didn't use cleanliness to ward off disease, however,
but instead appealed to their gods, using charms, amulets and
They didn't have a public health system in the modern sense of
state-organised sewers, public hygiene or medical care.…read more
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Greek doctors at Alexandria in Egypt began As Hippocrates had built on Egyptian ideas,
to dissect bodies. Some even dissected the so later Greeks built on the ideas of
bodies of criminals who were still alive. In Hippocrates. Succeeding generations of
this way surgeons realised that the brain, not Greek doctors learned to observe human
the heart, controls the movement of the anatomy, wrote down their findings, and
limbs, and they also discovered that the took their knowledge all over the known
blood moves through the veins. world.
Hippocrates accepted that ordinary people would be Based on the theory that natural
too busy or too poor to follow such a regime, and matter comprised four basic
would therefore be less healthy. elements, the Greek
While medicine was still in its early stages, people philosophers came up with the
continued to appeal to the gods for healing at the idea that the human body
Asclepion. As time went on, however, these places consisted of the four humours,
also became health resorts, with facilities such as a which had to be kept in balance.
gymnasium, an athletics stadium and baths. This theory survived until after
AD 1700.…read more
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The Romans invented the first ever Public Galen was the main medicine man in
Health System. They were great builders, Roman times. He used to dissect animals
and their amazing constructions were to further his knowledge. He studied the
aqueducts, baths, sewers and hospitals. heart, the lungs, the muscles, the blood
Rome had 9 aqueducts which carried fresh and the nervous system. Galen accepted
and clean water to many places everyday. Hippocrates' theory of the Four Humours,
but the Romans rejected Greek ideas and
the knowledge did not progress.
We have no evidence that Roman surgeons Some Roman doctors maintained the
operated successfully on patients. But we do Greek practice of clinical observation of
know that Roman doctors did not have people who were sick, and Galen claimed
anaesthetics, and only had herbal antiseptics he never made a mistake in diagnosis. The
so surgical operations were difficult for Romans did however, have a large number
them to perform. of practical remedies for diseases. Galen
The Roman Public Health System consisted of made the Theory of the Opposites which,
the following: Aqueducts, Reservoirs, Public he got the idea from the Four Humours
Latrines, Public Baths, Private Homes and the Theory.
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Knowledge was hard to come by in The Church said that Galen's ideas were so
Medieval times, especially during the Dark correct that there was no need to
Ages when barbarian tribes roamed investigate any further.
western Europe. The knowledge gained by Generally, the Church forbade the
the ancient Greeks and Romans was dissection of human bodies, so knowledge
largely lost to Europeans, and superstition was hard to come by - and ignorance led to
reigned - although learning was more numerous errors and misunderstandings
advanced in the Muslim Middle East. on the part of Medieval doctors.
During the Middle Ages, surgery was left to barber-
surgeons, not to trained doctors. Medieval surgeons During the time of the plague many
realised how to use wine as an antiseptic and they towns developed quarantine laws,
used natural substances as anaesthetics. However, and boarded up the houses of
they had no idea that dirt carried disease. Trephining infected people. People with leprosy,
was also used in surgery. Medieval towns and public likewise, were confined to Lazar
places may not have been clean by modern houses (a place for people with
standards, but Medieval people understood the infectious diseases). Medieval kings
connection between clean living and good health. passed laws requiring people to keep
Occasionally, they even took a bath. the streets clean.…read more
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Andrew Vesalius trained at Padua William Harvey discovered the principle of the
circulation of blood around the body. He
university and ransacked cemeteries for
became doctor to James I and Charles I of
bones and bodies to dissect. He discovered England. He calculated it was possible for blood
the spermatic vessels. He also contradicted to be burned up in the muscles. He published
Galen regarding his conclusions about the 'Anatomical Account of the Motion of the Heart
jaw bones. He became professor of and Blood' which proved the principle of the
medicine at Padua University. He said circulation of the blood. This book marked the
medical students should be dissecting for end of Galen's influence on Anatomy.
themselves. He published 'Fabric of the
Ambroise Pare changed people's decisions Rats, lice and fleas were a part of people's
about surgery. He spent 20 years as a everyday lives in Early Modern times, so
barber surgeon. He used to cauterise the the need for public health measures was
wound of his patients with Cautery Oil. great - but it took the plague of 1665 to get
When it ran out, he used yolks and rose oil the authorities moving.
to sooth the wounds. This remedy worked Houses were made of wood, mud and
better. He used ligatures to tie arteries horse dung. Rats, lice and fleas flourished
during amputations instead of cauterising in the rushes that people strewed on the
the wound. He published 'Apology and clay floors of their houses.