Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ancient Greek and Roman Medicine


Ancient Greek and Roman medicines of the ancient world were more advanced than pre-historic medicines, but not as advanced as modern day medicines. Nevertheless, it did help to improve the treatment of the ill during those times which did help to improve treatments in the future.
Hippocrates was by far the best physician in Ancient Greek. Although his teachings were wrong, he was the first to debate the ideas that the Greek Gods caused disease. Because of this, he was called the ‘father of medicine’. His first theory was the four humours. The four humours were: blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm. His ideas were that if one became ill, it was due to the imbalance of their humours meaning that he was the first to use logic and reasoning to explain the causes of diseases. He, and his followers, was also the first to ­describe certain diseases, such as lung disease, lung cancer, the clubbing of the fingers and heart disease. Also, he was the first documented chest surgeon and his findings are still respected today.
The Greek Galen, who later became Roman, was, quite literally, the greatest surgeon of all time; he was the first to prove that the body was controlled not only by the heart, but mostly by the brain due to nerves. He mostly is quite famous due to his development of Hippocrates’ theory the ‘four humours’. His new theory, which I had said before, was a development of the ‘four humours’ call the ‘Theory of the Opposites’. This theory states that once one of the humours is imbalanced, the best treatment was to have the opposite of that humours. One example is that if the phlegm humour was imbalanced, in simple terms – if you had a cold, you would need to have pepper to treat it. His teachings were carried on throughout the middle ages, due to the church as it was powerful. The role of the church in all this was that they stopped anyone from challenging his theories; one of the ways they stopped these debates was execution.  Because of this, no one dared to challenge Galen’s wrong teachings. One of mistakes he made was that the jaw bone consists of two bones and he was mistaken about the shape of the liver too.
By Aynan Muse

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