GCSE History - Medicine Through Time

An overview of each period


The Prehistoric Period

Disease and Infection

- Supernatural explanations (e.g. Evil Spirits)

- Osteoarthritis due to climbing up trees or carrying heavy loads

- 'Medicine Man' cured illness using herbal remedies, these would be passed down (e.g. honey, violets and chickweed)

Surgery And Anatomy

- Trepanation (to bore holes in the skull) using a 'trepan' tool which was a rock

- Trepanation was used to release evil spirits

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Ancient Egypt

Disease And Infection

- Disease was caused by rotting food in bowels

- More remedies

- To prevent Disease/Infection they sometimes wore charms

- Trade meant more plants and other things were used for different diseases

Surgery And Anatomy

- Trepanation was still used

- Knew about some of the organs (Didn't understand roles however)

- Embalmed organs for afterlife

- Bronze instruments were used

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Ancient Greece

Disease And Infection

- Four humours; blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile

- Hyppocratic doctors (made notes on many diseases and infections to diagnose a patient)

- Preventive Medicine

Surgery And Anatomy

- Weak area for Greeks

- Alexandria (place); allowed to dissect humans

- Aristotle; Heat came from heart

- Herophilos; Link of pulse and heart

- Erosistes; Link of nerves and brain

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Ancient Rome

Disease And Infection

- Galen treated disease according to his theory of opposites

- Avoided epidemics (e.g. Made sure the Army didn't sit by camp fires for too long and moved regularly)

- Hippocrates influenced Galen's ideas

- Clinical observations

- Herbal remedies

- Still believed in Gods

Surgery And Anatomy

- Galen performed surgery on a pig to prove brain controlled body

- Galen believed human body and animal's bodies were the same or similar

- Experiments were carried out on live animals

- Surgery in Roman Army

Public Health

- Made certain planning settlements (e.g. Not placing a town by marshes)

- The water supply was a great impact on health. They built aquaducts from oceans and lakes to towns

- Had baths to keep people clean

- Public lavatories and sewers were built

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The Dark And Medieval Ages (Medieval Period)

Disease And Infection

- The church checked every new idea to make sure it didn't contradict Galen's theory or the bible

- Monasteries controlled education and banned certain books

- Christian European Church thought there was a supernatural explanation for everything

- Rhazes wrote the first accurate descriptions of Measles and Small Pox

Surgery And Anatomy

- Surgery was more of a practical field as it didn't depend on Greek books

- Surgeons got a lot of practice treating injured soldiers because of many wars

- Barber-Surgeons combined surgery and shaving

- Not allowed to dissect bodies

Public Health

- Really bad

- No regulations (Therefore diseases spread faster)

- The Black Death (Spread quickly and fatal)

- No action was put in to get Public Health conditions checked

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The Renaissance

Disease And Infection

- Paracelsus thought disease resulted from problems with chemicals inside the body. Since the cause of disease was chemical, treatments should also be chemical.

- Paracelsus also believed God gave secret messages about how the world worked, nature identified plants with healing powers.

Surgery And Anatomy

- Harvey interested in circulation of the blood, pointed out veins only ever carried blood. Heart acted as a pump. (Couldn't see cappilaries between arteries)

- Pare treated wounds, found better treatment than scalding wounds with oil. Developed use of ligaments (He ran out of oil and used ligaments on one patient. The next day they felt better than the other patients. He did not invent ligaments, he developed further use of them)       

- Vesalius noticed jaw line was different to animals. Carried out lots of dissections. Wrote The Fabrica textbook

Public Health 

- The plague (Great Plague)

- People infected were locked up behind a white door with a red cross on it

- Killed animals (Thought they carried diseases)

- Great fire of London 'Got rid of the plague' (France and Italy increased its border control to stop people entering with disease or leaving with disease, Great Fire of London possibly killed rats carrying the disease.)


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(Sorry did write Public Health as well, but apparently it got cut off)

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