Those who are preparing to take the Medicine exam will surely have a lot of curiosity about the subject since it is a profession that originated in primordial times. The evolution of Medicine is related to the human being’s own path, in search of healing and wellness.
Several philosophers, physicists, and other researchers of antiquity contributed to the development of the profession. Over time, the techniques were modernized until reaching the model practiced today by physicians of various specialties.
How and when did medicine emerge in the world?
If you are going to study medicine, you should know that this science emerged in primitive civilizations, with few theoretical foundations, when man began to look for ways to cure physical illnesses. At that time, diagnostic and healing systems were based on magic and religion. In this regard, some ancient peoples deserve to be highlighted.
Priests exercised the role of healers in Babylon, treating especially mental disorders, considered to be possessed by spirits and treated by religious rituals. These healers played a great role in Medicine, as they detailed various diseases and discovered dozens of medical principles.
The contact with nature brought by Africa and the impact of Egyptian medicine was enhanced by the mysticism of the East, which led Imhotep, the first physician known by name, to excel in curing various diseases some 2,850 years before Christ.
In the Far East, medicine was based on the struggle between the forces of restoration (Vishnu) and destruction (Shiva). At that time, medicine was not dissociated from rituals of incantation, as the Hindu people also believed in possession by demons.
The Hebrews believed that sickness, like health, was the will and responsibility of a single God. Thus, the primary function of physicians in the region of Israel was to oversee the standards of social hygiene.
Evolution of medicine
As a historical milestone, Medicine is attributed to the Greek Hippocrates, who devoted himself to study the symptoms of diseases and their evolution in other patients, in order to have theoretical bases to investigate diseases related to physical problems in Ancient Greece.
Hippocrates became known as the most comprehensive critic of Modern Medicine since he challenged the philosophical currents, which were based on a hypothesis: only the gods were determinants for all the causes of diseases.
Thus, thanks to his efforts to catalog and study diseases, the areas of Medicine have become an activity of men and not of the gods.
However, it was in the Egyptian civilization, a time before Hippocrates, where Medicine had other great advances, thanks to the possibility of mummification of the pharaohs.
This technique of preservation of the bodies made possible important advances in the research of the human body, and studies were carried out with more depth, with the aim of revealing the functioning of the human anatomy.
Five hundred years after Hippocrates, still in antiquity, another philosopher who contributed to the evolution of medicine and its development was the Greek Galen. He lived in Rome and also advocated the study and observation of the environment and the relationship between human beings, as a way to identify the causes of diseases related to physical problems.
Galen was the author of more than 400 books, 70 of them dedicated to Medicine, and he was also responsible for creating the research parameters that were used in the following years.
After Galen’s studies, research and philosophies on medicine remained stagnant for a long period. This fact is also related to the actions of the Catholic Church, which for many years condemned studies related to the evolution of medicine and society as a whole.
Still in the Middle Ages, for example, the cure of various diseases was carried out by means of bloodletting. This method consisted of placing leeches on the skin to “cleanse” impurities.
Between the 5th and 15th centuries, during the Middle Ages, the first medicines for the treatment of certain diseases were developed in Europe.
At that time, surgeries were only indicated in life-threatening cases, as they were not considered safe procedures, due to the lack of knowledge, infrastructure and even the absence of adequate hygiene. The situation was so precarious that barbers performed surgeries with the same utensils they used in their work.
In this scenario, the evolution of medicine only restarted after the Cultural Renaissance. This movement brought about a change in the current of thought of the time and introduced a broad appreciation of the pursuit of knowledge. It was in the middle of the 16th century that laboratory tests were initiated and conducted in a more profound way, with breakthroughs of great relevance for physiology and also for anatomy.
In the 17th century, William Harvey marked the evolution of Medicine with the discovery of the blood circulatory system. This fact was extremely relevant because it changed the concepts of anatomy and contributed to other sciences to support Medicine, such as Pharmacy and Biology.
In the 19th century, advances in medicine were even greater with the invention of the achromatic microscope. With it, bacteria could be identified as the cause of some types of diseases.
Over the years, medical science has been consolidated as fundamental to the daily life of human beings. It has been divided into various departments and has found new ways to try to improve people’s well-being and quality of life.
The evolution of medicine in the world became even more evident in the 20th century, with the development and changes brought about by technological advances, which led to the creation of equipment to diagnose diseases, as we will see throughout this reading.
If you are in Spain and would like to review history with beautiful 15th-century paintings about how medicine has evolved over the years, visit the El Prado museum. You can stay at any of the Hotels near the Prado museum in Madrid.
How has medicine evolved in the world?
Starting in the 20th century, medicine entered a new era, mainly thanks to the structure of what was called the medical clinic. This structure of the clinic, as we know it today, emerged with Hippocrates, the idealizer of anamnesis as the initial stage of the medical examination of patients.
At that time, medical verification already included body inspection, palpation, and auscultation. But temperature measurement, for example, was done by touching the hands on the patient’s chest. Thus, a structure similar to that of Hippocrates’ clinics did not appear until after the 17th century.
Already in the 18th century, the Austrian physician Leopold Auenbrugger introduced physical examination enriched with the introduction of thoracic percussion. Leopold researched and created his observations with cadaver studies, and they resulted in evidence published in a book in his home country.
The truth is that the study did not arouse much interest at first, however, after being translated into French, it was incorporated into the clinical examination. This was the great structural advance of the medical clinic, but it only occurred in the 19th century.
In this phase, with inventions such as the scalpel and the stethoscope, the performance of physicians began to rely more and more on theoretical arguments, which allowed for greater accuracy in diagnoses.
The stethoscope itself is the representation of the evolution of Medicine over the years, gaining several models up to the binaural and flexible format used today. The mercury thermometer and the apparatus for measuring blood pressure were incorporated by physicians in the 19th century, which was an important milestone in relation to the previous century.
Thus, the evolution of technical devices related to medicine came to provide more accurate diagnoses from the 20th century onwards. This was because, with the help of better equipment, doctors began to have resources that would facilitate diagnoses by identifying patterns and symptoms that previously could not be seen, which was fundamental for the evolution of Medicine and of science itself.
Still, in the 20th century, Medicine incorporated important technologies for innovation in the field, especially in diagnostics. Thus, the effectiveness of precision in the identification of diseases led to the emergence of several new ways of arriving at diagnoses, which made the performance of physicians more effective and also more dynamic.
Thus, in the world, the evolution of Medicine occurred with the arrival of equipment that facilitates diagnosis, increasing the quality of life of people and the longevity of the population.