Medicine Through Time Notes

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  • Created on: 17-01-13 18:56
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Prehistoric Medicine
Know very little due to lack of written word but they had no understanding
- all down to spirits, demons, gods.
- a fit would mean they are possessed, if ill, their spirit has left you/been taken over.
- some natural methods. Herbal medicine found by chance, and handed down, could cure illness.
- anything they could not explain was put down to what they couldn't understand - gods.
-wore charms to keep evil spirits away, leave hair, excrement, nails buried by houses to prevent spirits form entering.
- if anyone was cured, it would be down to the medicine, but they would have thought it was the supernatural rituals that cured.
- may have seen what was inside the body, when they did rituals on them when someone was dead, so may have had a sort of
understanding about what was inside, but didn't understand what anything did.
- trepanning, supernatural not scientific. Otherwise, no understanding of what is inside the body. Issues with bleeding, no anaesthetic,
and not sterile. Not sure why they did it. If there was something they could explain, like a break, they could fix it. If not they'd turn to
Public Health
- people in these times were nomadic, moved around, and because they weren't settled they didn't have to set anything up. No
governments, country, maybe a leader in a tribe. To keep things clean as possible, they would maybe excrete away from camp. No other
Ancient Egyptians
Settled civilisation and written word meant that knowledge could now be passed
on and developed, more time spent on medicine than before as had money and
- looking at the Papyrus Ebers and the Books of Thoth we see that Egyptians thought disease was caused by evil spirits.
-generally, only when they could not attribute it to anything else - which shows they didn't always rely on supernatural.
- scientific ideas were wrong - good try. Thought 40 channels flowed through body, likened them to the Nile, when blocked, due to rotting
food in stomach, made them ill.
- empirical, knew insects made them ill, so used nets.
- religion and medicine merged. Doctors would be priests.
- medicine was used, but would have had less or equal importance to spells. Thought some gods were healers, Ihmotep, would pray to
them. Wore amulets and charms, would fast.
- some empirical methods. Based on observation, not theory. If a treatment worked, they'd write it down, and it would be used again -
without understanding why it worked. Still better than supernatural medicine. Example, washing, knew it helped long term, didn't know
why, shave to stop lice.
- doctors grew specialised in certain areas, very modern.
- well trained as past knowledge down, Papyrus Library at Alexandria. Wrote down new ideas and worked out what worked, trial and
error. Trading led to new medicines.
- used plants - willow bark was an antiseptic. Swapping with China and having trade led to more developments in drugs.

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This meant they would see inside and could make comparisons,
see what is normal.
- religion also held them back. Could not find out any more about the body by dissecting or probing as needed organs intact. Knew about
lungs, heart, brain.
- craftsmen were now becoming skilled. This led to a new range of tools being used, some for surgery.
- did minor surgery that was purely scientific. Broken noses, etc.
Public Health
- if you were rich, you could have a doctor.…read more

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Hippocrates' Greek ideas, thought it was down to imbalance and the Four Humours. Wanted to understand but nothing scientific
yet to explain what happens.
- still thought gods may have something to do with it.
- borrowed the Greek idea of using temples to cure people, eg. near swamps
- then turned to technology for more practical ideas when they saw this didn't work.
- Greek ideas, scientific, used: Hippocrates' clinical observation and the four humours.…read more

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- church limited dissection as thought it was sinful, only criminals could be dissected. Wouldn't have helped much anyway - at a stage
where need to see body when working.
- still using opium, henbane,mandrake.
- only ever done when it was a matter of life and death.
- to replace blood could make patients drink more blood. Infection still an issue.
- no understanding of what was occurring, only ever simple things, e.g. amputations.
- crusades gave practice at surgery.…read more

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Writing books with life like drawings,
labelled, led to understanding and communication.
- Harvey, English, used influence from the past to look into the body. Found heart and blood circulation. New ideas, not before used, and
correct. May have taken inspiration from old doctors but questioned it.
Technology helped - the printing press.
- Pare, French army surgeon, got his hands dirty, sword and gunshot wound expert.
- would cauterize gunshot wounds, seal with hot iron then pour n tar to stop infection.…read more

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Public Health
- generally, didn't interfere. Only the rich could stay healthy and afford doctors.
- only Jenner's breakthrough they endorsed - saved many lives, did a lot of good, save money by protecting the workforce.
Nineteenth Century
First understanding of the causes of disease and illness. Cannot cure diseases and
illnesses in the body - that is the work of the 20th Century. Governments are getting
more involved than before. Advances in chemistry lead to help in surgery.…read more

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- needed drugs that combated bacterial causing the diseases. Erlich was German, worked under Koch, adapted antibodies. Tried to use a
chemical dye that could kill off specific bacteria: a magic bullet.
- in 1907 worked on syphilis, already had the bacteria. Tried to find the magic bullet. Tested over 600 compounds of arsenic. Found the
right one on the 606 go, called Salvarsan 606.
- opposition. Side effects, doctors did it wrong and led to deaths, thought moral standards would drop.…read more

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Source Evaluation
What impression does a source give.
- infer from the text about what the source says about a person/event and use quotations to show where you've taken it from.
Whether, and how far, a source is useful to an enquiry.…read more


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