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Physician and druggist exhibit at Window on the Plains Museum

Medicine is a branch of medical science, and can also refer to a substance intended to be used for the treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder or abnormality. Strong spiritual values, as well as closeness to nature are proven aids to good health. Some form of medical care has existed for thousands of year, and important early advances in care were made in ancient Egypt, China, and India.

Mind and body

A "Mind/body" approach in health care is an important matter. Mind / Body medicine tries to use the power of thoughts and emotions to positively influence physical health. As Hippocrates wrote, "The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well". [1] Spiritual values, including prayer and meditation can be of great help in dealing with disease, as can also contact with the natural world (See: Atheism in medicine and Atheism and health.

Happiness and health

See also: Happiness and health

According to medical science, having an excessive amount of unhappiness in one's overall emotional life can have adverse effects on and individual.[2] See also: Happiness and health

Preventing illness by reducing health risks

Two of the major risk factors for becoming obese according to the Mayo Clinic are poor dietary choices and inactivity.[3]

See also: Preventive medicine and Self-care and Health risks linked to obesity

In 2020, Britain's eminent medical journal Lancet reported concerning preventive medicine:

A substantial proportion of poor health in populations is preventable. Previous work from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study suggests that nearly half of all health burden in the USA is attributable to a list of 84 modifiable risk factors. Globally, it is also generally accepted that a quarter, or perhaps up to half, of all deaths fall into the category of preventable deaths, making illness that can at least theoretically be avoided an accepted part of our health accounting.

In The Lancet Public Health, Howard Bolnick and colleagues extend this logic in the US context and quantify the proportion of US health-care spending in 2016 that was due to preventable causes. They found that more than a quarter (27·0%, 95% uncertainty interval [UI] 25·7–28·4) of health-care spending was due to these preventable illnesses. The US health-care system is famously expensive: the USA spends 16·9% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care, twice the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 8·8%. Therefore, in absolute terms, the sheer cost of these preventable illnesses is staggeringly high, estimated at US$730·4 billion (95% UI 694·6–768·5) in the USA alone in 2016. To put this figure into perspective, it is more than the 2019 GDP of 171 countries in the world, or all but the 19 richest countries. While this analysis is helpful to draw attention to the costs that the USA spends on diseases that it could avoid, it is also drawing attention to a status quo that we have long come to accept: a high proportion of illness and death is preventable, and a lot of money is spent on treatment because we do not do a particularly good job of preventing disease.[4]


Ancient world

Some of the earliest medical practices were found in ancient China, Egypt, and India. The Bible[5] also offers advice.[6]

Traditional Chinese medicine "is thousands of years old and has changed little over the centuries. Its basic concept is that a vital force of life, called Qi, surges through the body. Any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness. This imbalance is most commonly thought to be caused by an alteration in the opposite and complementary forces that make up the Qi. These are called yin and yang.". Treatment involves: Acupuncture; Moxibustion (the burning of herbal leaves on or near the body); Cupping (the use of warmed glass jars to create suction on certain points of the body); Massage; Herbal remedies; Movement and concentration exercises (such as tai chi).[7]

Some of the earliest records of medical care come from ancient Egypt; who " believed that the gods controlled life and health". They "believed that spirits blocked channels in the body and that this caused disease. The Egyptians " used a combination of prayer and ... non-spiritual — remedies. Healers were also priests, though later "the profession of a “doctor of medicine” emerged" [8].

The Bible provides an early example of a reference to quarantine (relating to leprosy), in Leviticus 13:4

But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and the hair on it has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate him who has the infection for seven days.

See also Leviticus 13:46; 14:8; Numbers 5:2

Sushruta was an Indian physician from the 6th century BC, who has been described "as the 'Father of Indian Medicine' and 'Father of Plastic Surgery' He "wrote one of the world's earliest works on medicine and surgery".

Hippocrates (460-377) B.C isthe “father of medicine". The Hippocratic Oath, that is required of graduating medical students, was created by him. Galen (129–c. 200 AD) was another important medical author from the Roman world.[9]

Modern period

Medical kit to cut of limbs with a gangrene infection.

During the American Civil War many soldiers had their limbs amputated via saws made for that purpose.

Some important figures in more recent centuries, include Michael Servetus, who was "one of the first men to give a nearly accurate description of the human circulatory system was, during the early sixteenth century, A.D". Another major breakthrough came with Edward Jenner's ( 1749 – 1823) discovery that milkmaids developed an immunity to smallpox, because they had earlier contacted cowpox,, mild disease of animals. This led to the invention of a smallpox vaccine, which Jenner first tested in May 14, 1796, by inoculating eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of his gardener.

Other significant early pioneers were Alexander Fleming, who discovered the value of penicillin, and Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Bubonic plague

The “Justinianic Plague” is the popular name for a pandemic of bubonic plague in the Late Roman or Byzantine Empire, which first appears in 541 AD. It reoccurred in different regions over the next two hundred years.[10]

The Black Death, as it was known, killed millions in Europe and many parts of Asia between 1347 and 1352. The plague was spread and transmitted by rodents, and their infected fleas , but this was not known at the time. About 20 million of the 60 million people in Europe at the time died. In all of recorded history, this epidemic has only two rivals: the plague of 541 AD and the flu epidemic of 1918.

Modern methods of disease control originated in response to the Bubonic plague. Cities such as Venice created public health boards to use sanitation, quarantine, and isolation to slow the spread of the plague.

See also

External links


  1. About Mind/Body Medicine
  2. Causes of obesity
  3. The cost of preventable disease in the USA by Sandro Galea and Nason Maani, Lancet, VOLUME 5, ISSUE 10, E513-E514, OCTOBER 01, 2020, DOI:
  4. Open Bible
  5. Tomorrows World
  6. John Hopkins
  7. Medical News Today
  8. Stanford University
  9. Kristina Sessa, "The Justinianic Plague"