Health and Medicine

Health Care

Who is generally regarded as the father of medicine?

Hippocrates (c. 460–c. 377 b.c.e.), a Greek physician, holds this honor. Greek medicine, previous to Hippocrates, was a mixture of religion, mysticism, and necromancy. Hippocrates established the rational system of medicine as a science, separating it from religion and philosophy. Diseases had natural causes and natural laws: they were not the “wrath of the gods.” Hippocrates believed that the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) were represented in the body by four body fluids (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) or “humors.” When they existed in harmony within the body, the body was in good health. The duty of the physician was to help nature to restore the body’s harmony. Diet, exercise, and moderation in all things kept the body well, and psychological healing (good attitude toward recovery), bed rest, and quiet were part of his therapy. Hippocrates was the first to recognize that different diseases had different symptoms; and he described them in such detail that the descriptions generally would hold today. His descriptions not only included diagnosis but prognosis.


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