Hippocratic Medicine Essay

1048 words - 5 pages

This chapter will analyze the Hippocratic medicine using especially the study of the Hippocratic Corpus. In the texts of the Hippocratic Corpus, medicine becomes pragmatic and secular, with theories to explain natural causes of diseases and discussions about medical practices and professional ethic. The chapter will discuss fundamental theoretical and ethical changes in medicine after Hippocrates.
It is important to keep in mind that the Hippocratic Corpus is not the text of a single author, but rather a compilation of writings by many authors with similar characteristics with Hippocrates of Cos. Possibly, many treaties were lost in the fire that destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria, ...view middle of the document...

At that time, medicine still manly worked on trial and error, but the Hippocratic physicians became more pragmatic. They started focusing on observation and registers, repeating treatments that worked and modifying treatments that failed. However, while distancing themselves from religion, some authors of the Corpus begun to use philosophy to explain the diseases, leaving the observation and empiricism in the background. Nevertheless, even in the Corpus there are texts that critic not only the divine explanations for the origin of diseases, but also the hypothetical speculation of philosophers about health (On Epilepsy and Ancient Medicine).
The texts of the Corpus cover many medical fields, among them professional ethics, symptomatology, etiology of diseases, dietary, nosology, therapeutics, gynecology and surgery. Despite the doctrinaire diversity, the documents provide fundamental concepts regarding the nature of the body and illnesses, the intellectual and moral training of physicians, the clinical procedures and the theories of pathogenesis.
To explain the origin of diseases, the Hippocratic Corpus used the theory of humours. Since this is a collection with different authors, some chapters differ in the amount and description of humours. The school of Cos used the theory of the four humours: black bile (mélaina cholé), blood (haima), phlegm (plégma) and yellow bile (xanthé cholé), as described in On the Nature of Human Beings and On Humors from the Corpus. To the Ancient Greeks, digested food turned into blood, bones and muscles, but excess of aliments or indigestible materials became humours. In a healthy person, the humours were in harmony, with no deficiency or excess. Deficiencies or surpluses of humours were the cause of illnesses. The excess in humours were visible in vomiting and diarrheas (yellow bile or black bile), expectoration of mucus (phlegm or yellow bile), dysenteries (black bile or blood) and hemoptysis (blood).
The theory of the four humours was used for almost two thousand years to explain diseases, but it was proven inaccurate a few centuries ago. However, this theory had some foundation in experimentation and analysis of nature. Fahræus suggested that the four humours were inspired in the...

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