Medieval Medicine - Part 2:

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  • Medicine In Medieval England 2:
    • The Four Humours Theory:
      • Doctors believed illness might be caused by an imbalance of the humours.
      • Theory evolved through introduction of astrology.
        • Doctors believed that the position of stars could tell you your illness.
      • Human dissection findings were interpreted as the theory of the four humours.
        • Some doctors later challenged traditional understanding
    • Public Health Measures:
      • Towns lacked the public health schemes of the Romans.
        • People relied on cesspits and wells.
          • Waste was frequently disposed of in the streets.
      • People found drinking beer was healthier, rather than water.
    • The Black Death:
      • The plague was spread by coughs and sneezes or black rats.
        • Black rats came from overseas via the ships.
          • Ships were quarantined for 40 days before landing.
        • The plague arrived in 1348 and its victims were struck down suddenly most died.
          • Symptoms included exhaustion, high temperatures, swellings, and difficulty breathing.
      • Cause:
        • Miasma - so they carried sweet herbs and sat between 2 fires.
        • God - tried to treat by praying, or self-flagellations
        • Imbalance of Humours - use of opposites, purging, vomiting and blood letting.
        • Poisoned waters - they blamed the Jews.
    • New Development:
      • There were more schools built and human dissection became allowed.
        • Some more doubts about classical texts.
      • New techniques included diagnosis by urine sample.
        • Doctors began to rely more on astrology - the study of stars.
      • Trained doctors were very expensive.
        • The poor relied on housewife-physicians and local monasteries.
          • They relied on traditional cures and their own experiences.
      • Development In Surgery:
        • Great demand for surgery because of warfare.
          • Surgeries held in low regard because they were often performed by barber-surgeons.
        • Wine was first used as an antiseptic.
        • Surgical treatments were still simple as major surgeries were too risky.


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