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Saturday, 11 July 2015


Hippocrates (c 460-c 377 BC) belonged to a family that had produced well-known physicians for many generations and was known in his day as a teacher and "The Great Physician".

Hippocrates is said to have received his medical training at an Asclepieion (Healing Temple) on the isle of Kos.

Asklepieion on Kos

Hippocrates insisted that disease had natural causes and was not to be explained by divine intervention. He was instrumental in helping medicine emerge from a mystical and religious basis and become rational and scientific in its approach to the diagnosis and treatment of the patient. His teachings transformed the approach to sickness in Greece.

"The Great Physician" produced a number of works for the layman, the medical student and the experienced physician in which he suggested the most effective treatments for a wide variety of different diseases and injuries.

Hippocrates' medical system featured wines as remedies for almost all known acute or chronic ailments. He also recommended milk as a medicine and considered that mineral waters could be beneficial to one's well-being.

The "Father of Medicine," once suggested a woman with a flat bustline could enlarge it by singing loudly and often.

One of Hippocrates' more unusual treatments, was a toothpaste he recommended made of three mice and the head of a hare.

Hippocrates also wrote much about the preparation of herbs such as cinnamon, mint and saffron for medical use. He stated which should be gathered early, and which later and whether each herb should be crushed or dried in its preparation.

Hippocrates was possibly the first ever advocate of a fibre diet. He pressed his fellow countrymen to bake their bread with bran for its "salutary effect on the bowels."

An image of Hippocrates on the floor of the Asclepieion of Kos.

For two thousand years his works dominated the field of medicine and of the four hundred medicines made with spices and herbs, which were utilized by Hippocrates, at least half are in use today.

Hippocrates taught frequently at a medical school under a plane tree on the Greek island of Kos where his students were told to be thoughtful when examining their patients, make no assumptions when recording their symptoms and sensitive when treating them. His code of ethical behavior for physicians known as the Hippocratic oath, which he imposed on his followers, is still taken by doctors today.

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