Medicine Through Time


Medicine Through Time Notes

Medieval/Middle Ages Period; c1250-c1500

Causes-  The Four Humours: Illness was due to an inbalance of liquids in the body; phlegm,yellow bile, black bile and blood. Supernatural Explanations: God causing disease due to sin/as a test of faith, astrological alignment. Held back medicine development. Rational Explanations: TFH, The Theory of Opposites,  not washing, miasma.

Care- Women: Female family members treated the sick. Barber-Surgeons: Like a cheap surgeon without training. Carried out basic surgery (bloodletting, amputating, teeth) with low success rates. Apprentice surgeons. Apothecaries: Mixed herbal remedies and ointments based on knowledge/guidance. Trained but not qualified. Cheaper than physician. Physicians: Medically trained at university with qualifications. Diagnosis and treatment, sent patients to apoc. or barb. Expensive so only used by wealthy. Consulted urine charts and zodiac charts.

Surgery- Basic surgery by barber surgeons, major surgery by surgeons. No aseptic/antiseptic techniques- very unhygienic so low success rates due to fatal infection or blood loss. Nothing cleaned as no reason to. No anaesthetic-only alcohol or a hit to the head.

Treatments- Religious/supernatural: Christianity, carrying charms, chants, prayer, pilgrimage, flagellation as penance. Rational: Purifying the air, bathing/washing, bleeding or purging, exercising, herbal remedies.

The Church- The Church accepted Galen's theories as they fitted in with Christianity. They acted as hospitals, with monks and nuns giving care for the ill.However, there was no real structure or medical aspect, more a support and care aspect of things.

Individuals- Hippocrates was an ancient greek doctor who also trained other doctors-very prestigious (Hippocratic Oath says work is for the benefit of the patients and is recited by new doctors). Advocated systematic treatment- identifying symptoms then watching how they develop. Galen emphasised the importance of Hippocrate's approach to treatment and used TFH to develop his own theory; The Theory Of Opposites- an excess of one humour should be treated with its exact opposite (phlegm (cold and wet) treated with hot peppers (hot and dry)). Dissected animals and formed findings on the human body. 

Renaissance Period; c1500-c1700

Causes-  continuity- miasma a popular theory, as well as The Four Humours. change- less support of supernatural/religious causes.

Prevention- People regularly changed clothes, removed miasma through drainage of swamps and removing rubbish- this was called Regimen Sanitatis. Prayer and Christianity.

Care- 1536 Dissolution of the monastries meant many churches and therefore many hospitals closed. Some charity funded hospitals appeared but not as many as pre-disolution. Pest houses were set up- specialised care centres for specific contagious diseases. Hospitals became less religious, run by physicians. Continuity in that care at home was common as physicians stayed expensive.

Surgery- Paracelsus, a german alchemist discovered the use of a derivative of opiums as a painkiller. Knowledge was more in depth therefore surgery was less necessary to determine a diagnosis. No anaesthetic yet.

Treatments- Physicians gradually stopped consulting zodiac and urine charts, due to decreased belief in astrology and increased knowledge of the digestive system. The theory of Transference- rubbing a wart on an onion to rid it.





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