Medicine through time

Medicine through time revision notes: Prehistory, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and Middle Ages (not finished)

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PreHistory: What was life like?

  • Basic 
  • Spiritual  
  • Lived in small tribes 
  • Generally Peaceful 
  • Normadic 
  • Lived in caves or basic huts
  • Unhygienic   
  • Diet of : Meat, Fish, Veg and coarse bread. 
  • Life expectancy – Men:40  Women:24 
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PreHistory: What made people ill?

  •  Heavy Lifting  
  • Child Birth  
  • No proper public health 
  • Food shortage/ famine
  • Tripping / Falling accidents 
  • Poor diet 
  • Pregnancy 
  • No clean environment for medicals 
  • No Medical Tools
  • No Medicine

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PreHistory: What did people believe made them ill?

  •   Evil Spirits
  •   Gods
  •   Obvious causes eg. Tripping over branch

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PreHistory: Natural treatments

  • Casting Broken bones  
  • Plants 
  • Herbal Remedies 
  • Simple Surgery 
  • women helped care for sick


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PreHistory: Supernatural treatments

  • Crystals
  • Medicine man
  • Singing / chanting
  • Charms eg. Rabbit foot
  • Magic
  • treppaning to remove evil spirits

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PreHistory: Evidence

  •  Cave paintings
  • Tools
  •  Figures/ statues
  • Aborigine people (as haven’t changed alot in 1000s of years)
  • Some skeletons


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PreHistory: Disease and Infection

  •   Belief in spirits and that illness and death is caused by evil spirits 
  • Medicine men (shaman) diagnosed and treated illness  
  • No trained doctors
  • Charms were thought to prevent illnesses 
  • Herbs and plants used to treat sickness and disease


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PreHistory: Surgery and Anatomy

  •  Simple surgery like trepanning used and possibly some amputations  
  • Cast broken bones
  •  Knowledge of the skull
  • No way to deal with blood loss


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PreHistory: Public health

  • They had a normadic lifestyle so had no need for permanent public health measures
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Ancient Egypt: What was life like?

  • Simple / Basic
  • More Variety of jobs since PreHistory
  • Governments
  • Religious
  • Still allot of farming
  • Some people could write (hieroglyphics)
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Ancient Egypt: What did people think made them ill

  • Spirits
  • Gods
  • Hygiene
  • Poor diet
  • Blocked Channels (Channel theory)
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Ancient Egypt: What did people think made them bet

  • Opium and other drugs
  • Honey and other natural products
  • Remedies
  • Healthy diet
  • Willow Bark
  • Vomiting
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Ancient Egypt: What did people think made them bet

  • Gods
  • Charms
  • Prayers
  • Spells
  • Wore amulets
  • Scarab beetle broaches
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Ancient Egypt: What surgery was performed?

  • Mummification
  • Casts
  • Minor surgery although some minor-complex eg. on eye
  • Could stitch wounds
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Ancient Egypt: What did they believe was inside th

  • They thought the body was like the river Nile and that if channels got blocked inside their body the would get ill alike to if a river gets blocked (Channel Theory: was Incorrect)  

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Ancient Egypt: Public Health

  • People were told to wash and have a healthy diet
  • Mosquito nets
  • Baths and toilets
  • Shaved heads
  • Changed clothes regulary
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Ancient Greece: What did people think caused illne

  • Gods
  • Spirits
  • Natural Causes
  • Followed Hippocrates theory
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Ancient Greece: Treatments

  • Remedies - herbs, minerals and animal parts
  • Prayers
  • Charts
  • Chants and Rhymes
  • Bleeding and Purging
  • Other methods to restore body
  • Rest, Exercise, Diet
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Ancient Greece: Healers

  • Mothers and family members treated most illnesses
  • Priests at temples to Asclepius
  • Surgeons
  • Specialist doctors trained by books of Hippocrates and Galen
  • Priests - said prayers to help and protect
  • Physicians trained at univercity by reading Hippocrates, Galen and Arab writers
  • 1300s less than 100 physicians in England
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Ancient Greece: Anatomy

  • Doctors new about main organs and viens from observing wounds didn't learn any other way
  • At Alexandria discoveries made via dissection - rarely allowed due to religion
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Ancient Greece: Surgery

  • Simple on visible wounds
  • Tumors
  • Splints for fractured bones
  • Treppaning
  • No effective anesthetics - used opium etc.
  • Cleaned wounds - wine, vinegar, honey
  • Could not prevent infection spreading or stop heavy bleeding
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Ancient Greece: Public Health

  • People were told to wash and have a healthy diet
  • Mosquito nets
  • Baths and toilets
  • Shaved heads
  • Changed clothes regulary
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Ancient Rome : Public Health

  • Linked bad smells (miasma) to poor health
  • Rome had over 100 toilets
  • Baths, sewers and aqueducts built
  • Spent money on public health
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Ancient Rome: Economy

  • Wealthy due to slave trade
  • Upper class: Healthy lifestyle and exercise
  • Slaves provided labour to build public health places
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Ancient Greece: Change

  • Had a more practical approach to medicine
  • Roman government were centralized and wealthy
  • Roman Doctors found out about body anatomy
  • Public health was prioritized 
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Ancient Greece: The Army

  • The Army of the empire had to be kept fit and healthy so had excellent public health facilities on their sites
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Middle Ages: Change

  • Public health facilities lost, monestries alone clung onto education
  • Catholic denomination
  • The big roman cities disintegrated into small towns governed by a local lord
  • So they could not afford Universities for learning or public health systems.
  • Communications were difficult so ideas traveled slowly.
  • Technology was limited and advanced roman technology was lost.
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Middle Ages: The Plague - 1345

  • There were two types - the bubonic plague and pneumonic plague.
  • Both carried in the gut of the oriental flee in boats from italy etc. - dirty cities and no knowledge of germs spread the disease rapidly.
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Middle Ages: Theories of what caused the Plague

  • The un-balancing of the four humours - Galens Opposite theory.
  • Astronomy - movement of the sun and planets, Adjacent etc.
  • Believed it was a punishment from God or caused by the devil 
  • Invisible fumes or potions in the air - miasma.
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Middle Ages: Problems caused by poor public health

  • Butchers sold rotten meat.
  • Open sewers carried waste to the river.
  • Waste was carried through the street, and then thrown into the middle of the river.
  • Water wells and cesspools were often close together.
  • Rubbish was thrown around the street.
  • Public urination.
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Middle Ages: Attempts to improve public health

  • Segregated areas for butchering animals.
  • Streets had gutters to carry away waste.
  • 'Rakers' removed dung from the streets.
  • Fine for throwing litter.
  • Latrines.
  • Fines for public urination.
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Middle Ages: Hospitals

  • Women, in particular Nuns took care of the sick.
  • Patients were well looked after and fed.
  • Religion was still a huge factor.
  • There was some basic knowledge and understanding, (such as dead patients being put into body bags).
  • However they did not fully understand the causes of disease (in some hospitals, sick patients shared beds).
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Middle Ages: Surgery

  • Surgeons were often regarded as no better that butchers.
  • Barber surgeons - were licensed to cut hair, and carry out minor surgery such as pulling out teeth, lancing boils, and leeching.
  • Surgeons - were meant to blood letting and more major surgical work, but this normally only went as far as, manipulating dislocated limbs, setting broken bones, and treating scalds and burns.
  • Military surgeons - had to take more risks with their victims of war. Most surgical advances were made by these surgeons because they had to develop new methods on the spot.
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Middle Ages: How did they deal with pain and infec

  • Alcohol to fight infection.
  • Mixtures of herbs and boar & bull gull as an anesthetic.
  • Mixtures of hemlock, hen bane and wine used to send patients to sleep.


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