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How Medicine Has Evolved Over Time

May 4, 2008
Some of the earliest forms of medicine, and medical practices, in ancient cultures was the use of natural resources, such as plants, various bits of animals and a myriad minerals. In nearly every society, including the Western cultures, there were religious rituals as well as magical forms of healing. In aboriginal communities, there is a vast scope of medical ideology that goes hand in hand with spiritualism, cultural views, and the use of natural resources. The more spiritual ideas are fairly well known. The idea that inanimate objects can have spirits is known as Animism, and there is also Shamanism, Divination, and other forms of spiritual medicine.

The practice of medicine was slowly developed in ancient Babylonia, India, Greece, Egypt, Sumeria, and many other countries of the ancient world. There have been numerous archaeological excavations that have shown that even brain surgery was practiced with a great deal of skill and many of the skulls showed that many of the patients survived this surgery and lived long lives.

Medicine as it is commonly practiced today was developed during the 19th and 20th centuries in the U.K., Germany, America, and several other European countries. The new "scientific" medicine replaced the early ways and traditions of medicine which were based mostly on herbalism, and what many refer to as superstitions.

In one of the very first, and very advanced, human civilizations, Sumer or Sumeria, the god Ningaz, (or as some texts say the goddess Ninhursag), was the patron of medicine. Sumer also has one of the very oldest known images of the two snakes coiling around the rod, called a Caduceus, and it is dated before 2000 BCE and is still used as the symbol of Medical practice today.

During the early part of the 20th century the focus of the development of clinical medicine changed drastically. What was possibly one of the causes for this major shift in thinking was the rejection of the traditional ideology and approach to science of any sort. This became especially so during the Black Plague that scourged Europe during 14th and 15th centuries. The idea that just because some person of elite standing in the community had said something was a certain way, possibly hundreds of years ago, then that was the way it was. During times before it was held that anyone who observed and stated ideas to the contrary was a heretic and they were either put to death or forced to flee for their lives.

In spite of these problems many open-minded individuals led the way in improving or rejecting the old theories of great authorities of the past eras. A good many of the old theories were in time proven to be false. These new ways of thinking began to be possible because the Roman Catholic church's power in society weakened and they no longer were feared as they once were.

Now, in this day and age, we have what is called evidence-based medicine. This is a fairly recent movement to try to establish the most effective methods of practice through the use of the tried and tested scientific method and the Internet which has global information about nearly any patient at the doctor's fingertips. This is done by collating all the evidence and working by standard protocols which are then passed on to health care providers.
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