Hippocrates: The Father Of Modern Medicine

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The ancient Greeks were instrumental in developing medicine as an organized and ethical practice. A famous doctor of that time, and of all time, was Hippocrates, who lived from 460 B.C. to 377 B.C. Considered the father of medicine, Hippocrates is remembered for his great humanitarian and professional skills, exemplary conduct, and noble views of the world. His high standard of professional ethics was impeccable. On the short list of the most underrated contributors to humanity, Hippocrates is at or near the top.

Much of his writings are still relevant. His greatest impact on the medical profession, in fact, involved the espousal of professional standards of conduct, along with moral principles and practice. This would become the famous Hippocratic Oath:

"I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity. I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due; I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity; the health of my patient will be my first consideration; I will respect the secrets which are confided in me; I will maintain by all means in my power the honor and noble traditions of the medical profession; colleagues will be my brothers; I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patients; I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge, contrary to the laws of humanity. I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor."

Today, virtually every licensed medical doctor takes the Hippocratic Oath. It serves as the basis for ethical practice in service to humanity. Yet few physicians have actually been taught to follow Hippocrates's philosophy of medicine, which advocated working in harmony with the body rather than controlling it. In addition to his code of medical ethics, Hippocrates provided another important contribution to medical practice, the concept of holistic healing. Hippocrates taught and practiced concern for the whole patient, not just afflicted organs. He was truly the first holistic doctor.

Furthermore, Hippocrates realized that it wasn't the doctor who cured the disease. Rather, an inborn force contained within a person's body was responsible for restoring health. To him, the duty of a doctor was to work in harmony with the inborn force and support nature's healing activities. This meant doing nothing that would infringe upon or disturb the natural process. The doctor's role was that of a helper only.

There were others who held similar views. According to ancient Chinese pathology, illness was the result of alienation from the natural order of the universe. Similarly, doctors in early India focused attention on the prevention of illness as well as the cure. Other doctors, however, did not practice medicine in this manner. The other emerging philosophy of medicine developed potions and treatments designed to elicit a physical change in the body. Changing a person's physical condition became the primary concern. This type of doctor believed every problem had a specific "cure." Healing was a matter of finding the right one and creating physical change, without killing the patient in the process. Sometimes the cure was worse than the disease, still a prevalent problem in modern medicine. Focus was placed on external or symptomatic changes in the body. And because they were paid for this to happen, changing the physical symptom, this was tied to their income. Thus it became entrenched as their dogma.

Having the patients believe in this method of treatment became highly profitable for the doctor. Seemingly miraculous cures brought in more payments. More and more, doctors began treating the symptoms of patients' problems and not their underlying condition. This was the exact opposite of Hippocrates' methods.

Hippocrates said, "Every illness, even though it may reveal itself by means of local symptom, is nevertheless first and always a general disease and the individual part can never be recognized without seeing the whole."

To be able to treat each person as a unique human being flies in the face of the "production line" type of mentality that is typically applied to the rendering of healthcare services in this country.

 

Ron Morefield has been interested in alternative health since 1988 and has been a certified acupuncturist. He believes in simple, practical solutions for health matters. Get 7 FREE Easy Diet and Easy Fitness Videos  from www.VitalogyLiving.com.

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