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Transcript of Medieval Medicine
http://www.learner.org/interactives/middleages/healtact2.html The Four Humors :
Black Bile Types of Medieval Doctors:
Mid-wives Phlebotomy anesthesia First brought to light by Hippocrates, and later more defined by Aristotle. The Four Humors are what drove medical theology from the Hellenic period, to the 19th century. In the early middle ages only priests were permitted to become doctors. It was believed that most/all illness's were a punishment from God, and so praying was among the most popular forms of treatment. Later on the church began to recognize the need for practicing educated doctors. Universities and medical schools were opened. There were two kinds of doctors: physicians and surgeons. Physicians were the very wealthy who could afford to go to a medical school, and surgeons who were usually lower class individuals. Someone who was to become a surgeon or physician*, would have to apprentice with a master for years or attain a license before they could work by themselves, much like any other craftsmen. Description What is it Designed to Treat? Becoming a Doctor in The Middle Ages More Facts There were multiple treatments for everything, from headaches, to the bubonic plague. Everyday ailments would have a few herbal remedies, but when diseases were serious, people became desperate. Diseases like the plague had countless remedies; because nothing worked, people just kept coming up with more ideas and if it coincidentally cured the person from their ailment, it was a cure, even though there was no solid evidence. Medicine in the middle ages was highly influenced by the church. The church absolutely forbade anyone from dissecting a body. Because of this doctors and surgeons(as well as the general public) had very little knowledge about the human body. Also, they had no knowledge of the actual cause of disease, which we now understand is generally a lack of sanitation. It was believed that sin caused disease. Consequently a lot of the medical information available at the time was based on guess work. They would try anything and if it appeared to work, then it was a cure. Treatments ranged from blood letting to swallowing a spider covered in a raisin... (more on that later) The Humors Possible Side Effects and Concerns Surgery would have to be your very last choice because if the ailment didn't kill you, the operation most likely will. Preformed without anesthetic* or disinfectant the pain would be excruciating and infection was almost unavoidable. Also, a lot of blood would be lost with no way to replace it. The majority of cures were mere guesses and only appeared to work. Most ailments needed antibiotics but there was no such thing. If a cure worked for one person, but not for another, it was not fault of the cure but of the patient. With limited/no understanding of the human anatomy and pathogens, medieval medicine was rarely effective. Pre-1100s (Before the Black Plague)
No knowledge of the (actual) cause of disease
No knowledge of the human anatomy
No solid evidence supporting cures
No concept of hygiene
Life expectancy was around 35 years
After (post 1100s as well as post-Black Plague_
Doctors had more knowledge of the cause of disease, anatomy, how to cure diseases and greater understanding of hygiene. Cures included more substantial treatments such as bathing, diet, and exercise contributing to overall health. The Black Plague Diagnosis Medieval doctors would first check your humors to see if they are in balance by checking your blood, urine samples, and other bodily fluids. They would then recommend blood letting or an herbal mixture. If needed, the doctor could consult another doctor. Last resort was surgery. If nothing could be done to save you, the doctor would recommend ways for your family to keep you as comfortable as possible in your last days.
*With the knowledge the Humors needing to be balanced, doctors recommend a very balanced lifestyle; bathing, diet and exercise. 1348 - 1350 Killed between 75 and 200 MILLION people. First signs of the plague were lumps in the groin or armpit that may have grown to the size of an egg accompanying a high fever and vomiting. The lumps would spread all over the body and then turn blackish-purple. After 3 days of the first symptoms, death would occur. Doctors had no idea the cause of the disease and so they didn't know how to treat it. Eventually they realized that the spread of disease was caused by poor sanitation and contact between the healthy and the sick. This was a major breakthrough for medieval medicine. The Balance of the four humors is needed to be healthy. If there is an unbalance, then illness would occur.
Earth-(cold, dry)-Black bile-Melancholic-Spleen-Autumn-Prone to sadness
Water-(cold, wet)-Phlegm-Phlegmatic-Lungs-Winter-Prone to apathy
Air-(warm, wet)-Blood-Sanguine-Head-Spring-Prone to optimism
Fire-(warm, dry)-Yellow bile-Choleric-Gall bladder-Summer-Prone to anger Refuting/Supporting Scientific Evidence Modern Applications Leeches were used in bloodletting and surgery and still are today. Childbirth often meant death for the mother. Theology In the Middle Ages, people thought sickness was caused by the punishment of God, or bad odors. Bloodletting to prevent heart problems? Our Thoughts Much like surgeons midwives had to train with a master before they could work by themselves. Most Common Treatments Phlebotomy: the practice of bleeding a patient by the use of knives/fleam, leeching, or cupping. Cupping is used in Chinese medicine as a massage technique.* No matter what the case, a herbal treatment was the first thing to be advised. Vomiting, coughing, and frequent bathroom trips would be advised based on the illness. Are You Leaking? http://www.learner.org/interactives/middleages/healtact2.html Craziest treatments we came across Dwale: a anesthetic made of herbs and a healthy does of hemlock juice and opium... could kill you. Medieval Medicine For the Black Plague: 10 year old treacle, bloodletting, paste for the sores, rub wounds with a live chicken.
Cough: snail syrup
Mental Illness: brain surgery
Cure for anything: religion and prayer
Fever: spider covered in a raisin