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The History Of How Doctor's Evolved

Apr 10, 2008
From the earliest known records of humanity there has been the knowledge that certain plants and procedures could be used to cure some aspects of illness and disease. Even in the Lascaux cave paintings in France were shown plants being used to treat illness and injury. The earliest doctors were most likely those who made a study of the herbs that could heal. As the knowledge of these healing processes grew, doctoring began to be a specialized branch of study. While the healers of the time were more accurately referred to as shamans, the seeds of doctoring had begun.

Archaeological records show that the practice of dentistry was an established fact in Indus Valley region nine thousand years ago. These ancient doctors were known to be able to drill cavities from teeth. Twenty five hundred years ago, the Indian and Buddhist healing arts had codified various branches of medicine and had specialized doctors in eight categories of medicine. Internal medicine was distinct from anatomy and surgery. One branch specialized in ear, nose, eye and throat diseases while others focused on pediatrics and toxicology.

It is possible that this codification arose from even older doctors and their studies. Five thousand years ago, Egyptians were performing surgery sometimes as complex as operations on the brain and skull. One Egyptian doctor text dated to about 1600 B.C.E. described the processes of examination, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of a wide variety of illnesses. In a time when religion played a big part in most cultures' medical practice, this text was surprisingly devoid of all but the most realistic medical facts.

At the same time Western civilization was codifying their information for empirical doctoring, the Chinese were developing their own system by which doctors treated the whole being, both body and soul, as one integral unit. The Greek doctors began making great strides in identifying various aspects of hereditary factors that linked to disease.

The Greek doctor Hippocrates is credited with codifying what was to become the very basis of western medical thought. Many of his observations and procedures are still valid to this date and are studied by the modern pulmonary medical doctors. The Romans followed this up with the development of most of the surgical tools modern doctors still use now including forceps, scalpel and cross blade scissors.

Throughout the middle ages doctors had a harder time of it as the medieval outlook was more inclined to look for a religious or spiritual cause of disease. However, practical medicine was still viewed by some as a "handicraft" and by the nineteenth century had begun to once again make its way into mainstream thought and practice. Once more the doctor was considered a valuable professional. The industrial revolution produced the technology by which doctors could become scientists and utilize the new machines to dig deeper into the causes of disease.

As bacteria and the genetic effects of DNA and heredity became more understood, scientific medicine became the primary focus of medical research. Not only the physical causes of illness were explored but, by the late 1800's, mental health doctors were beginning to study the workings of the human mind. Advanced chemistry developed drugs that could be manufactured and tailored to specific problems and in accurately measured doses so treatments could be more controlled and less haphazard as once was the case with organic materials.

From those early "witch doctors" and shamans, grew the drive and understanding to aid modern doctors in their quest to rid humanity of all the illnesses that have plagued man's existence throughout the ages.
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