Lecture 3: Galenic Medicine


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  • Galen. De pulsibus. (Manuscript; Venice, ca. 1550)
  • Aesklepeion at Kos, site where Hippocrates probably trained. Cult of Aesclepius was important for centers of ancient Greek medicine HIPPOCRATES.[c.460-c.375 BC] Octoginta volumina. Rome, Franciscus Minutius Calvus 1525 Anagni: Cathedral Two Great Physicians of Antiquity: Galen and Hippocrates Date c.1255 Material crypt fresco
  • Title-page to 'Pharmacopoeia Londinensis' (London, John Marriott, 1618); title in centre; above, the royal coat of arms between two obelisks and beneath a cloud inscribed with the tetragrammaton and from which a hand extends; to the left of the title, Hippocrates, standing, holding a book; to the right of the title, Galen, standing and holding a book; bottom left and right, half length portraits of Mesue (Yuhanna ibn Masawaih, 777-857, Baghdad) and Avicenna; bottom centre, a shield featuring an emblem of two hands clasped above a thistle. Pharmacopoeia literally means ‘the art of the drug compounder’ and the London Pharmacopoeia was compiled by the Royal College of Physicians as the first standard list of medicines and their ingredients published in England. The College first published the Pharmacopoeia in 1618, although the idea had been discussed from 1585. Impetus came from the creation of the Society of Apothecaries: the College wished to retain its hold over medical practice and felt that by producing and controlling the Pharmacopoeia they would keep the Society firmly under their authority. English Apothecaries were instructed by royal declaration to make up their medicines only to the specified formulas. The Swiss physician Paracelsus (1493-1541) was the first major advocate of chemical medicines but they remained novel and controversial in the early 17th century. Treatments such as bleeding and purging were the traditional physician’s ‘cures’. However the pharmacopoeia working party, appointed in 1594, included physicians such as Thomas Muffet and Henry Atkins, who had trained in continental universities such as Basle and Nantes and were sympathetic to Paracelsus’ ideas. In September 1616, Sir Theodore de Mayerne, an eminent Swiss-born physician and prominent alchemist, also joined the committee. The preface to the first edition, dated 7 May 1618, takes a conciliatory approach to the old school: although new chemical medicines are included, the preface stresses their secondary role in healing. This first version was swiftly withdrawn, although the reason given – that the printer had produced it before it was fully ready – can be disregarded. It seems more likely that disagreement amongst the physicians continued about the form that the Pharmacopoeia should take. The alchemists seem to have won the day as the second version published on the 7 December 1618 is much longer, and lists many more simples (herbs used on their own) and compounds (medicines made from several plants with other ingredients). It also includes discussions of the uses and effectiveness of the medicines. The College published revisions in 1650, 1677 and 1719. Any changes, however, were minor and it was not until 1746 that a full update was attempted. Many old formulae remained, perhaps for those older patients who expected particular medicines, but these were ultimately deleted during the 1788 revision.  Nicholas Culpepper famously produced a controversial English translation of the Latin text in 1649 to open up the information to a wider audience. It was the 1746 edition that dropped any explanations of the uses of medicines, returning the Pharmacopoeia to its first form, since it is not “a regular treatise on the art of pharmacy, but only a register of the medicines the apothecary is to be furnished with”. The tenth edition of the Pharmacopoeia, published in 1851, was to be the College’s last. The Medical Act of 1858 awarded the responsibility of producing the British Pharmacopoeia to the newly established General Medical Council.
  • "Amanuensis," Scribes in the Abbey of Echternach (Luxembourg), Manuscript from the 11th century
  • MS Ashmole 1431, ff. 33v-34r. 11th century. Bodleian Library. Herbal of Pseudo-Apuleius Note doctrine of correspondences
  • Laurentius De Voltolina (14th Century). Manuscript Illustration of Medieval course
  • Vesalius, Andreas, 1514-1564. De humani corporis fabrica libri septem. Basileæ [Basel]: Ex officina I. Oporini, 1543, p. 372 16 x 13 cm. https://bdigital.sib.uc.pt/manuscritos/UCBG-4A-21-14-1/UCBG-4A-21-14-1_item1/P698.html
  • http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/paracelsus/index.html Paracelsus. alterius non sit qui suus esse potest , "let no man belong to another that can belong to himself” Azoth was considered to be a universal medicine
  • Lecture 3: Galenic Medicine

    1. 1. Galen and HumoralTheory in Early Modern Scientific Revolutions in Europe, 1450-1750 Europe
    2. 2. Ko sHippocrates, c. 460-370 BCE
    3. 3. Galen’sPhysiologicalSystem• Three primary organs: liver, heart, brain• Pneuma: life forces • Animal Spirit/brain • Vital Spirit/heart • Natural Spirit/liver
    4. 4. Humoral Theory• Humoral Theory
    5. 5. Late and Antiquityand MedievalMedicine• Ibn Sinna (Avicenna), 980-1037• Medieval Commentaries• 1453: Fall of Constantinople• studia humanitatis• The Printing Press anbd moveable type, 1439
    6. 6. Authority• Epistemology • Religion/Faith • Classical Philosophy/Reason • Tradition/Common Sense/Folk Practices
    7. 7. Texts• Christian Scripture• Commentaries• Herbals
    8. 8. Institutions• Hospitals• Universities
    9. 9. Anatomy andDissection• First recorded public dissection in 1315 by Mondino de’ Liuzzi• Andreas Vesalius (1514-64), De humani corporis fabrica (1543)
    10. 10. Iatrochemistry• Paracelsus (c. 1493-1541)• emphasized need to balance body chemistry• Saw disease in microcosm (man) related to macrocosm (nature). In other words, everything in nature was interrelated.• “Many have said of Alchemy, that it is for the making of gold and silver. For me such is not the aim, but to consider only what virtue and power may lie in medicines”