History of Healing

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History of Healing

Postby circumspice » Sun May 06, 2018 11:17 pm

Has anyone here read the book The Healing Hand ~ Man & Wound in the Ancient World? The author is Guido Majno. He's a doctor who wrote a history of wound treatment. It was first printed in 1975. I've owned a copy since 1976. It's a fascinating book that explores the treatment of wounds in ancient times. He organizes the book by civilization. Each chapter explores the medical practices in use by ancient physicians from a specific civilization, such as Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian, etc. But he didn't just recite a dull history wound treatments, he actually performed experiments to test the efficacy of many treatments, using scientific testing methods. This is a fascinating book & in my opinion a worthwhile read. In fact, even though it's been out of print for many years it has stood the test of time. You can find the book on Amazon if you have the 'need to read' affliction.
"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer." ~ Alexander Pope
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Re: History of Healing

Postby Minimalist » Mon May 07, 2018 9:21 am

Thanks for the tip, Circ.
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Re: History of Healing

Postby Simon21 » Thu May 10, 2018 5:03 pm

Good recomendation.

I was surprised to learn that when Prince Henry got an arrow in the face at the Battle of Shrewsbury his physician first had a tool made by an army balckmith to remove the head, then dressed the woulnd in honey and wine as he knew that they prevented wound fever.

Just a pity they were rubbish when it came to dysentry which killed Henry 19 years later
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Re: History of Healing

Postby circumspice » Fri May 11, 2018 2:39 am

Simon21 wrote:Good recomendation.

I was surprised to learn that when Prince Henry got an arrow in the face at the Battle of Shrewsbury his physician first had a tool made by an army balckmith to remove the head, then dressed the woulnd in honey and wine as he knew that they prevented wound fever.

Just a pity they were rubbish when it came to dysentry which killed Henry 19 years later


The tool that was used specifically to remove arrows from wounds is mentioned in the book that I recommended. It has an ancient history in the treatment of arrow wounds.

Internal medicine & microbiology wasn't quite a science back then. They most probably used empiric protocols for treating illnesses & wounds. If one procedure didn't succeed, move on to the next until the wound healed or till it 'putrified' & killed the patient. A good surgeon would keep a record of the types of illnesses & wounds & which treatments were successful versus the ones that weren't. Right up till the 19th century a man could become a physician by apprenticing himself to an established physician. There wasn't much uniformity in the training of physicians until almost the 20th century.

I used to believe that bloodletting was a worthless & dangerous treatment until a physician of my acquaintance told me that bloodletting was an effective treatment for two conditions: congestive heart failure & fevers that didn't respond to any other treatment. (he called it an unremittent or persistent fever) He said it was effective because it artificially forced the patient into shock. Go figure... :shock:
"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer." ~ Alexander Pope
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Re: History of Healing

Postby Simon21 » Fri May 11, 2018 2:53 am

Interesting but it is odd that a physician attending an army about to go into an arrow fight didn't have "something I prepared earlier" - having to tell your agonised patient you had to run to the blacksmith cannot have installed confidence. I know how I would have felt if my surgeon had told me to wait on while he ran to the chemist to get a scalpel blade.
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Re: History of Healing

Postby Simon21 » Fri May 11, 2018 2:54 am

Interesting but it is odd that a physician attending an army about to go into an arrow fight didn't have "something I prepared earlier" - having to tell your agonised patient you had to run to the blacksmith cannot have installed confidence. I know how I would have felt if my surgeon had told me to wait on while he ran to the chemist to get a scalpel blade.
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Re: History of Healing

Postby circumspice » Fri May 11, 2018 2:56 am

People were tougher back then? :lol:
"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer." ~ Alexander Pope
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Re: History of Healing

Postby Simon21 » Fri May 11, 2018 4:20 am

When they excavated Portchester Castle they found evidence of Post roman settlement, several of the teeth examined had been worn to the pulp. A forensic dentist stated that he couldn't even concieve the pain these people must have endured as part of their ordinary lives.

Excavating part of St Martin in the Field's crypt they found at least one skeleton part of whose ribcage had been staved in (probably through accident) but who seems to have lived for some considrable time afterwards. Again a pathologist studying the remains said without painkillers how such a person lived any life was astonishing.
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Re: History of Healing

Postby kbs2244 » Fri May 11, 2018 3:48 pm

RE:
Living with pain
Can anyone say "opioid Addiction"

In various ways, it was common throughout history.
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Re: History of Healing

Postby circumspice » Fri May 11, 2018 7:40 pm

Simon21 wrote:When they excavated Portchester Castle they found evidence of Post roman settlement, several of the teeth examined had been worn to the pulp. A forensic dentist stated that he couldn't even concieve the pain these people must have endured as part of their ordinary lives.

Excavating part of St Martin in the Field's crypt they found at least one skeleton part of whose ribcage had been staved in (probably through accident) but who seems to have lived for some considrable time afterwards. Again a pathologist studying the remains said without painkillers how such a person lived any life was astonishing.


Up until the advent of antibiotics, one of the most common causes of death that was officially recorded was 'teeth'. I got that info from the physician acquaintance of mine. He is a gold mine of medical data & little known medical factoids. He's an interesting & entertaining person to talk with.
"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer." ~ Alexander Pope
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Re: History of Healing

Postby circumspice » Fri May 11, 2018 7:50 pm

kbs2244 wrote:RE:
Living with pain
Can anyone say "opioid Addiction"

In various ways, it was common throughout history.


My maternal grandfather was born premature, low birth weight & addicted to opiates because his mother was addicted to Laudanum. His whole future was dictated by his mother's addiction. He was a lifelong alcoholic. In his mother's time, opiates & cocaine were over the counter patent medications. Right up until the 1970s Paregoric, an opium tincture, was sold over the counter for babies with colic. Anyone could walk into a drug store & buy it without a prescription. :shock:
"Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, and, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer." ~ Alexander Pope
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Re: History of Healing

Postby Cognito » Fri May 11, 2018 11:41 pm

I used to believe that bloodletting was a worthless & dangerous treatment until a physician of my acquaintance told me that bloodletting was an effective treatment for two conditions: congestive heart failure & fevers that didn't respond to any other treatment. (he called it an unremittent or persistent fever) He said it was effective because it artificially forced the patient into shock. Go figure... :shock:

Phlebotomy (drawing blood) is also the treatment of choice for hemochromatosis (i.e. iron overload disease). I have a friend who suffers from the condition and his blood is drawn every few months. The alternative is organ damage leading to death. :(
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Re: History of Healing

Postby circumspice » Sat May 12, 2018 2:06 am

Wow. Yet another practical reason for bleeding a patient. I wonder if those barber surgeons ever had a clue whether or not any treatment might work. Did they just do something, then sit back & observe the results? The Hypocratic Oath certainly outlined a physician's responsibilities.
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