The history of medicine is like a huge puzzle, and it has taken many tortuous and gruesome routes to try to fit the pieces together. It has gone from ancient myths that attempted to explain disease to the great capabilities of today's medicine.
The first crude forms of medicine go back to prehistoric man. Even before man appeared on earth, disease existed in the animals that roamed here. Fossils, bones, and teeth can be used to see how prehistoric man fell to disease. Imagine a sickly man, his body and mind wasted by sleeping on the cold, muddy floor that he shared with other creatures. He shortly died from lack of food, by traumas, fears, and stresses.
The first physician was man himself. His medicine was based on instinct, using methods of self-healing, licking, sucking, and blowing on his lesions. Man first began to learn of anatomy through accidental or battle wounds, cutting up animals, and even cannibalism. Tools used as weapons were being used to make incisions. Licking and sucking were replaced by bloodletting , scarification , amputation, and surgery with stone tools. Copying the acts of previous monkeys, the first casts were made of dried mud put directly on wounds. Fire brought not only burns, but cautery .
Civilization came to be around 12,000 BC. Diseases were treated if minor with domestic remedies such as diet, herbs, plasters, and massage. Often, if the case was severe, the patient was killed to relieve the community of his burden, or the healer was summoned. Old shaman's techniques were more based on myth and magic. Magic was man's first attempt to understand nature. Defensive magic used fetishes (objects endowed with magical powers), amulets (protective objects against black magic), and talismans (good luck objects). The shaman based his diagnosis on the concept that there was only one disease. The cause of this disease came from the existence of fetishes, evil dreams, or broken taboos. Once the direct cause was determined, it was treated by magic, sucking, extraction rituals, massage, baths, or vegetable drugs; and possession by a spirit, by exorcism, bloodletting, and spells.
Magic medicine can still be seen today in some primitive communities. Although, then it was based on the personality of the shaman, the sacred place of his rituals, and the magic time, where as now it is based on what is done and what technique is used, along with reasonable motives.
There was a huge turnaround in medicine roughly in the 4th century BC with Greek medicine. At this time, diagnosis and treatment of disease became more rational and scientific. The most famous and influential of these turnarounds was the compassionate and methodical Greek doctor, Hippocrates. He was and is known as the "Father of Medicine." He contributed with a very influential book collection called the Corpus Hippocraticum. By today's standards, his theories and ideas seem primitive, but for his time, his observations and interpretations were revolutionary. The importance of this was that he provided a logical base for modern medicine from then on.
Hippocrates gave a philosophical outlook on medicine: "I am about to discuss the disease called sacred (epilepsy). It is not in my opinion, any more divine or more sacred that other diseases, but has a natural cause, and its supposed divine origin is due to men's inexperience, and to their wonder at its peculiar character." This was one example of his great works of adding to medicine. He took the previous beliefs of myth and magic and saw disease as a natural process born of natural causes: environment, climate, diet, and way of life. The body had to recover for itself, such as in a fever; it expresses the body's struggle to cure itself. A healthy man was not only physically sound, but mentally apt as well.
Although the Corpus collection was extremely beneficial, there was not much known about the actual human body. Young anatomy and physiology sciences were based primarily on educated guesses.
In the 14th Century, there was an increase of human corpse dissection, but nothing new was being learned. They just confirmed what they had read by doing these procedures.
The Medical Renaissance brought many new beginnings. Anatomists explored the human body even more to get theories that could be proven scientifically capable. An Italian physician named Giralamo Fracastoro came