History: Medicine.Causes and cures in the middle ages

Causes and Cures of the 1348 plague

Who treated the sick and how were they treated?

The Vademecum

Continiuty and change: was there any progress???

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Causes and Cures of the 1348 Plague

Causes:                                                     Cures:

-Bathing                                                     -Avoid baths, light fires and inhale perfume

-God                                                          -Prayer, Pilgrimage, Flaggelation, candles

-Devil                                                         - Prayer

-Four humours out of balance                       - Purging/bleeding

-Miasma                                                    - breathe clean, countryside air

-Movement of Sun/Planets                           - none

-Jews                                                        - They burned jews          

-Looking at People                                     - isolation/quarantine

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Who treated the Sick?

Barber-Surgeon - minor surgery eg teeth pulling, some amputation but no training yet skilled with knives. Also, letting blood. Knowledge: 2 Experience: 3 Cost: 4 Success: 2

Church: People go on pilgrimages hoping to be cured. Monasteries had hospitals, monks made herbal remedies. Knowledge:2 Experience: 3 Cost: 5 Success: 3

Physician: Diagnosis only - by urine samples and astrology, then directs to barber-surgeons and apothecarys Knowledge:4 Experience: 3 Cost: 2 Success:3

Apothecary: Produces medicine + ointments for physician, or paying individual treatment. Knowledge: 3 Experience: 4 Cost: 3 Success: 4

Hospital: For elderly, or those with specific illnesses Knowledge: 2 Experience: 3 Cost: 5 Success:4

Housewife-Physician: traditional remedies for sore throuats etc deals with broken bones and child-birth. Knowledge:3 Experience: 4 Cost: 5 Success: 4

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How were people treated?

There was a huge belief in God and God was often thought to cause and cure illness. Similiar to ancient times. In Egypt there was a God of Healing called Imhotep, in greece called Asclepios. Temples were built to Asclepios ad his two daughters,  Hygiena and Panacea, and were like hospitals. The idea of a god causing/curing illness is a continiuty.

Ancient greeks also started a more practical approach called the four humours. Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile and Black Bile. They believed if one was out of balance, you were ill.

Questions (answers on back)

1) What was a humour?

2)According to the theory of humours what made people ill?

3) Why was this a  big step forward in medicine?

4) Why was this important in the history of medicine?

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1) four liquids that had to be kept in balance;Blood, Phlegm, Yellow Bile, Black Bile.

2) If a humour was out of balance it would make you ill in one way or another

3) It was the first time people looked for a pracical method, no praying to assorted gods. It was about having a balanced diet etc/

4) As people believed in it for over 1500 years!

The romans continued + developed this theory. Romans were practica and liked to use emperial evidence (things you can see, so prove), therefore the four humour theory made sense to them

A doctor called Galen devloped the idea with his theory of opposites eg if your cold eat something hot. He wrote over 60 books and was a doctor to emporers so therefore influential. Doctors were still reading his books in the Renaissance.He proved his ideas with dissections, so people believed him. Also as he looked at "the whole system", the church liked his ideas

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 A physician would find out a patients symptons and would then decide ona  cure. Physiciams usuually had a book of tables or charts which they consulted before deciding ona  cure. This was called a Vademecum.

In the middle Ages ideas about the causes of disease and cures were a mix of practical and supernatural ideas. Belief in God was central to Medieval Society and its not surprising that ideas of God causing/curind diseases was common. Often this was mixed with practical ideas eg praying whilst a patient was bled.

Practical ideas were based around the four humours or herbal remedies, which might have worked. However some ideas were silly, but the plague caused panic and desperation, anything was "worth a try".

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Continuity and Change, did they make any progress?

Yes: eg

Medical schools were set up at Universities to train Doctors

Medical Knowledge was recorded in boks

Herbalists knew more about medicinal herbs then we do today

No eg

Doctors were still using Galens theory of opposites and did not challenge his work/books

Th church wouldnt allow dissections

Church forbade any work that challenged Galen.

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OOOOOO very good

I guess it's arite!   =P

Joshua Talbot


thanks livvy :L see you at schoooool



This is actually quite good (:

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