History of Medicine

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The medieval period is normally not associated with advances in technology, nor with contributions that benefit society. Yet, our medicine today owes much of its development to physicians of that time. Medicine of that era was strongly influenced by superstition and the doctrine of the Christian church, and did not have much foundation for practical application. The need for medicine in Middle Ages was certainly great, considering the extreme amounts of plague and disease prevalent during that time (Grigsby 2). Unfortunately, medical knowledge of that day was of very little help (Margotta 68). Physicians had no concept of disease causing bacteria or viruses. Unfortunately, it was thought in that day that illness was either due to…show more content…
In fact, since the herbs that Apothecaries used to make their medicines were usually extremely expensive spices, most doubled as merchants (Gottfreid 108). Physicians were the primary treatment practitioners during the middle ages, yet into the 13th century, numerous medical treatments were being conducted by a new and separate group of people known as barbers, barber-surgeons, and surgeons. These new groups increasingly took on the responsibilities of many types of invasive and non-invasive procedures. These new groups did not receive their training from universities, but from a hierarchy of apprenticeships regulated by guilds. The contributions of their procedures however, were significant (Duin 26). Only a few surgeons undertook complicated operations and then only for life-threatening or extremely painful conditions such as bladder stones, urinary obstruction and toothache. There were attempts at anesthesia to reduce pain: sponges were impregnated with opium or mandragora and placed in the mouth or nose. However it is unlikely that these worked very well, since contemporary illustrations show that it was necessary to restrain patients physically during operations. (Duin 27) Barbers were very important in the medical community. By the end of the Medieval period, the barber surgeons had a distinguished place in society and were very well established (most because
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