Medicine through Ages Part I: Prehistoric, Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek By Dr. Alok Mishra Post graduate Trainee, National Institute of Homoeopathy Under Guidance of Prof. LM Khan HOD, Organon of Medicine, National Institute of Medicne
Prehistory is a term used to describe the period before recorded history.
The term "prehistory" can be used to refer to all time since the beginning of the universe , although it is more often used in referring to the period of time since life appeared on Earth , or even more specifically to the time since human-like beings appeared.
The date marking the end of prehistory , that is the date when written historical records become a useful academic resource, varies from region to region. For example, in Egypt it is generally accepted that prehistory ended around 3200 BC.
Knowledge about Prehistoric era Artifacts Anthropology Cave engraving
Physically men were affected primarily by degenerative joint disease, fractures, respiratory diseases like sinusitis, bronchitis, digestive disturbances, skin disease.
Various cancers are identifiable in the skeleton. Primary bone cancer is rare , but the skeleton is a common site for the secondary spread of cancerous growth from other tissues.
Specific traces in the skeleton system suggests certain infection like tuberculosis (traces on the ribs and tends to destroy the bodies of the lumbar vertebrae), congenital syphillis (Hutchison’sincisor), leprosy (damage to the bones of the face, fingers, and toes)
Occasionally one finds, in wall painting made by pre-historic man, the spears or arrows plunged exactly into the vital organs of the animals, showing that in terms of their animal victims, if not themselves, pre-historic hunters had a precise knowledge of anatomy .
The prescription for a healthy life, meant that an individual undertook the stringent and regular purification rituals (which included much bathing , and often times shaving one's head and body hair ), and maintained their dietary restrictions against raw fish and other animals considered unclean to eat.
Among the curatives used by the Egyptians were all types of plant (herbs and other plants), animal (all parts nearly) and mineral compounds .
Yeast's were also taken internally for digestive disorders and were an effective cure for ulcers.
Ancient Aegean civilization began around 3000 B.C.
Greek Medicine developed with philosophy, disciplined by strict criticism, and healing for the first time became a science as well as an art, practiced not by priestly caste but by laymen who replaced magic by enquiry .
From the writings of Homer (c. 850 B.C.), a great poet, we get the earliest glimpse of Greek medicine.
The temples of his cult, dedicated to healer God Aesculapius , were known as Asclepieia . Most celebrated Asclepieia were in Cos, Epidaurus, Cnidus and Pergamus.
In the state of induced sleep, called as enkoimesis , the priest presented himself before the patient to administer medical advice, if he happened to be awake.
If he slept, as was usually the case, the advice came in a dream , which was interpreted afterwards by the priests, who then prescribed catharsis, emesis, blood-letting or whatever remedy seemed appropriate.
Before these patients left the temple a tablets were hung on the wall of the temple engraving there name, brief history and treatment offered.
Aesculapius became so proficient in the healing art that Pluto accused him of diminishing the number of shades in Hades . He was then destroyed by a thunderbolt of Zeus , and so became and objects of worship.
Alcmaeon of Crotona gave a theory of isonomia , which means the perfect harmony of all substances in the metabolism.
The body is healthy as long as this metabolic harmony was maintained; disease resulted from its disruption.
Disease was cured by restoring metabolic balance and harmony to the organism.
Modern nutritionists and physiologists see in isonomia the precursor of all modern metabolic theory.
But he also believed that investigation (including dissection), not just philosophy, was needed in order to understand the body. His combination of direct observation and experimental testing stands out as unique in his time.
Although many remarkable facts emerged from his dissections (probably on animals)
Hippocrates (c 460-377 B.C.) VIS-MEDICATRIX NATURAE FATHER OF MEDICINE
Hippocrates based his principles and practice on the theory of the existence of a spiritual restoring essence or principle, the vis medicatrix naturae.
In therapeutics, he believed in simply assisting nature, his scheme of treatment was usually confined to such plain expedients as fresh air, good diet, purgatives, blood-letting, barley water, honey & water, honey & vinegar, massage, and hydrotherapy.
To this end, Hippocrates believed "rest and immobilization were of capital importance".
Here Hahnemann differed slightly from Hippocrates.
He devised a method of diagnostic investigation based on observation and on reason which is even valid today.
He laid much stress on prognosis .
He & his followers evaluate an illness and induce likely progression of disease based on the data collected and detailed case histories .
To this end Hippocrates and his follower instituted for the first time through going examination of patient’s condition including facial appearance, pulse, temperature, respiration, excreta, sputum, localized pains and movements of the body.
They gave several clinical signs which still hold its importance in modern medicine few important among them were