Medicine Through Time: Disease and Infection

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  • Created by: Nuha
  • Created on: 08-06-12 11:55

Disease and Infection Through Time

Prehistory- No awareness of what causes disease, 'medicine men' used to cure the ill through the use of herbal remedies. No understanding of the cause of disease. Everyone thought that evil spirits caused disease and so charms and chants would be used. They did use to bury their waste but this was for religious reasons, not for hygienic reasons.

Ancient Egypt- Only the rich could afford doctors but still very basic knowledge on the cause of disease. Most people thought that evil spirits caused disease and so charms and chants would be used as well as being buried with charms for the afterlife. Writing on Papyrus (paper made from reed) meant that medical ideas could spread such as herbal remedies for illnesses. Bandages were used for mummification and so may have been used on wounds; this would have prevented infection from spreading. Imotep was seen as the God of medicine and Sekhmet was the goddess of illness, she was thought to cause and cure illnesses. This caused many to pray to her to cure them of their illnesses. The theory of the blocked channels was introduced in relation to the River Nile and farming in Ancient Egypt. People thought that the blood carried air and water and so if the channels were blocked you became ill as your body did not have access to air and water. Lastly. some Egyptians introduced the idea that disease was cause by undigested food rotting in the bowels.

Ancient Greece- Hippocrates (now known as the father of medicine) introduced the theory of The Four Humours, this stated that the four main substances in the body were: black bile, yellow bile, blood an phlegm. Therefore an imbalance in either one of these humours would cause disease, most people accepted this theory as it explained a lot. For each humour there was a corresponding season, for example in Winter people would get phlegm. The Hippocratic regimen was also introduced that stated diet and exercise were important in fighting illness; it was up to individuals whether they wanted to take this advice on board or not. The temple of Aclepion was a place where people would go and sleep in hope that, at night, the God Ascelpius and his two daughters, Hygieia and Panacea would cure them. Many believed it worked and historians can see this through carvings on walls. Most thought that snakes were placed on them and they would take the illness away, votive stones were also used. Hippocrates wrote and published many books which went into detail on the treatments he advised; these became known as The Hippocratic Collection. A feature which is still evident from these is the need for a prognosis and to observe the patient to see what the illness could be.

Ancient Rome- Galen followed on from The Four Humours theory as proposed by Hippocrates and gave his theory of The Four Opposites. Due to Galen's reputation this eventually became a well-established idea but it basically said that for every humour that is in balance the treatment…


Priya Farmah


Wow really informative - thanks! :D

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