Medicine – the voyage through time – medicine past to present

Book Review by Dr Suja Pillai   

Medicine – the voyage through time – The journey of medicine from past to present 


  • The book is authored by Dr Arun Bhasme, Dr Rosario D’Souza, Dr Angelo Smith.
  • Published by B.Jain publishers
  • Printed by J.J.Offset printers
  • Cost of the book is Rs449
  • 2007 Edition
  • Foreword is written by Dr.Ramjee singh

This book is joint effort of three competent physicians in the field of homoeopathic medicine

An valuable book for PG  and UG Students of Homeopathy

About the book

  1. The book is especially designed to cater the long lasting needs in regard the history of medicine for post graduate medical students.
  2. The study material provides evolution of man and human knowledge down the ages biographies of eminent individuals who developed medicine and discoveries and inventories in different historical periods
  3. The language used is simple,easily understandable to a student,book is fully coloured which gives it a beautiful look& presentation
  4. The book has been divided into 3 parts&8 chapters &an additional appendix.
  5. The chapters have been arranged in chronological order  dividing the book from 8000B.C to the 21st century.
  6. Each chapter ends with a conclusion.
  7. Chapter 7 is unique as it traces the history & development of specialized branches in medicine from their inception till the present day.
  8. The appendix at the end of book has 3 parts (a)Timeline of medicine. (b)Fathers of specialized branches In medicine. (c)Homoeopathic timeline.
  9. The contents of the book has been drawn from various literature &internet.
  10. Bibliography of the topics included in the book is provided for further reference

Contents of book

1.The Dawn Of Medicine

  • Prehistoric Medicine
  • Indian system of medicine
  • Chinese medicine
  • Egyptian medicine
  • Mesopotamian medicine
  • Greek medicine
  1. The Heirs Of Greece 
  2. Middle Ages
  3. The Rebirth Of Science
  4. The Period Of Consolidation
  5. The Industrial Revolution
  6. Changing Perspectives& Emerging   Trends
  7. Modern Medicine
  8. Appendices
  9. Bibliography  

Chapter 1. The dawn of medicine


  • Period(8000:5000BC)
  • Was born out of sympathy&out of necessity to help those in sorrows,need &sickness
  • The 1st doctor was the 1st man,1st nurse was the 1st woman
  • Still practiced in remote areas of Asia,Africa, SouthAmerica,Australia&islands of Pacific
  • Idea about prehistoric medicine comes from excavation&exploration of ancient sites
  • Prehistoric man attributed disease to wrath of GODS,or to influence of stars&planets,this concept was known as ‘SUPERNATURAL THEORY OF DISEASE’
  • Methods of treatment were nothing more than methods of appeasement by prayers,rituals,sacrifices& magic Doctors were known as spirit healers
  • Primitive surgery was known as TREPANNINlG ie boring hole in the skull to allow the evil spirits to provide a hole for escape,used in epilepsy,infantile convulsions&headaches
  • Medicine in prehistoric times is nothing but a combination of superstition,religion,magic&witchcraft.

(B) Indian Systems of Medicine    {AYURVEDA}5000 BC

  • Originated in India in pre vedic period
  • Term Ayurveda means SCIENCE OF LIFE
  • Rig veda &Atharva veda are the earliest documented ancient books
  • Indian medicine is described to have a divine origin
  • Brahma originated ayurveda,he then taught it to twin physicians of god Aswins&they passed it to Indra& from him to different sages.
  • God of Indian medicine Dhanvantri who is an incarnation of Vishnu emerged from milky ocean at the end of churning by devas &asuras
  • Ayurvedic fundamentals&its eight specialities were fully documented in Charaka Samhita&Sushrata samhita the first compendia on ayurvedic medicine &surgery respectively
  • Charaka samhita contains several chapters dealing with therapeutic or internal medicine ,about 600 drugs of plant,animal&mineral origin are described in it,it also deals with other branches of ayurveda like anatomy,physiology,etc
  • Sushruta samhita relates to school of surgery,deals with various principles &theory of surgery.In it is identified 1120 diseases,lists 760 medicinal drugs,20 sharp instruments,101 blunt ones.Dissection procedures are explained using vegetables&dead animals.Describes association of malaria&mosquitoes,plague&rats.
  • Books were used for teachings in universities of Takshashila &Nalanda
  • The growth of 8 specialties gave ayurveda another name Astanga Ayurveda
  1. internal medicine(kaya chikitsa)
  2. pediatrics(kaumar bhritya)
  3. psychiatry(bhoot vidya)
  4. otorhinolaryngology&ophthalmology     (shalakya)
  5. surgery(shalya)
  6. toxicology(agad tantra)
  7. geriatrics(rasayana)
  8. eugenics&aphrodisiacs(vajikarna)
  • According to ayurveda living man is a conglomeration of 3 humors Vata,Pitta,Kapha& 7 basic tissues(Rasa,Rakta,Mansa,Medha,Asthi,Majja,Shukra)
  • Body is made up of 5 elements(earth,water,fire,air&vacuum)Panchabhutas
  • Diagnosis is made by examination of pulse,urine faeces,physical examination
  • Types of treatment:
  • (a) Shodhana therapy(purification tt)
  • (b) Shamana therapy(palliative tt)
  • (c) Pathya vyavastha(prescription of  diet&activity)
  • (d) Nidan parivarjan (avoidance of disease causing &<factors
  • (e) Satvavajaya(psychotherapy)
  • (f) Rasayana therapy(use of immunomodulators&rejuvenation medicines)

Charaka was the 1st physician to present the concept of digestion,metabolism,immunity.He knew the fundamentals of genetics,gave 360 as total number of bones,believed heart had one cavity &considered it to be a controlling  centre.

Sushruta known as Father of surgery,1st surgeon to advocate the practice of operations on watermelons,claypots& reeds.Also known as father of plastic surgery.


  • Unani is based on greeke philosophy
  • Four basic elements Earth,air,water,fire,
  • Three parts of body solid part(organs),liquid part(humors),gaseous part(Pneuma),
  • Four temperaments;Cold,hot,wet,dry.
  • Four humours;Blood(hot&wet),Phlegm(cold&hot)
  • Yellow bile(hot&dry),Black bile(cold&dry)
  • Health based on 6 essentials air,drink&food,sleep&wakefulness,excretion&retension,physical activity &rest,mental activity&rest
  • Diagnosis by NABZ(pulse)
  • 4 types of tt:regiminal therapy
    • :dieto therapy
    • :pharmaco therapy
    • :surgery
  • 4 periods of development:Greek,Arabic Persian,Spanish,Indian
  • 37 UG colleges,PG in3 centersHyderabad,Aligarh,Delhi,105 unani hospitals,950 unani dispensaries
  • National Institute Of Unani at Bangalore


  • Siddha means achievement& siddhars were saintly figures
  • Also called Agasthyar system after sage Agasthya
  • Shiva gave the knowledge of siddha to Parvati who handed to Nandi & then to sages
  • Close similarity with Ayurveda,with specialization in Iatrochemistry
  • System has rich treasure of drugs 25 varieties of water soluble inorganic compound,64 mineral drugs,
  • Aware of several alchemical operations eg;calcination,distillation,sublimation,exaltation etc
  • System effective in tt of psoriasis,STD.


  • Believed in theory of UNIVERSAL ANIMISM ie all parts were animated by God
  • 2 forces YIN(negative,feminine,dark,cold,earth,death)

YANG (positive,masculine,light,warmth,life)balance of 2 forces responsible for health

  • Chinese medicine evolved at the time of Han dynasty
  • 5 element theory;fire,earth,metal,water &wood
  • Pulse &tongue diagnosis played impo role
  • Acupuncture technique involves inserting&manipulating thin needles into pressure points to restore health 1st described in Yellow emperor’s Classic Of Internal Medicine
  • Moxibuston involves burning of mugwort to facilitate healing,this regulate flow of Qi
  • Qigong ;coordination of different breathing patterns with various physical postures&motions of the body


  • Sekhmet the lion headed goddess of war was the supreme deity of healing& priests of sekhmet were the specialists in medicine&surgery
  • EDWIN SMITH PAPYRUS is the impo document pertaining to medicine in Egypt which planned to deal with ailments from head to foot
  • EBERS PAPYRUS consist collection of different medical texts
  • KAHUN Gynecological papyrus deals with gynaecological problems of woman
  • ART OF EMBALMING was practiced as Egyptians believed in life after death
  • Imhotep was the god of medicine in Egypt


  • Mesopotamia means :Land between the rivers(TIGRIS &EUPHRATES)
  • Cuneiform writing on clay tablets provides information about this system
  • Ashipu &Asu were the healers
  • Code of Hammurabi ie collection of legal decisions made by Hammurabi to advertise his justice
  • Ancient temple of GULA was an alternative source of health care


  • Greek theory of suffering;PATHOS,PONOS,PATHOS{disease is manifestation of specific stress &general strain on constitution
  • Aesklapious was the god of healing
  • Contribution of Hippocrates
  • theory of 4 humurs;yellow
    • bile,blackbile,phlegm,blood;
  • Hippocratic oath,idea of vis medicatrix nature,Hippocratic corpus
  • Aristotle’s writings on logic were grouped under the name ORGANON


  • After death of Aristotle his pupil Alexander founded a medical school at Alexandria
  • Library of Alexandria contained 700000 manuscripts,lecture hall,zoological gardens,observatory for research
  • Herophilos of Chalcedon,&Erasistratos of iulis were the influential investigators who contributed much to the study of anatomy


  • Adopted many ideas of Greek
  • Roman tradition believed one was better without doctors
  • Roman medicine divided into 3 areas;medicine of pater families ie home remedies,hepatoscopy,private practitioner using greek medical principles
  • Important figures;Aulus Cornelius celsus,Claudius galen



  • 1ST physician was Vienna dioscurides who composed compendium of all the materia medica describing the use of 600 plants
  • 1st empire in which dedicated medical establishments were set up by churches thus era of hospitals started
  • Christianity played an important role


  • Fall of roman empire led to loss of many hygienic medical practices&health conditions detoriated
  • Medicine was dominated by religion,surgery was a crude practice
  • Biggest challenge came in the form of plague
  • Universities were infused with doctrinal themes &perspectives
  • Key figures were;Peter Abelard,albert magnus,Roger bacon,Saint Thomas Aquinas,Hugh of lucca


  • After roman empire Arabic world was the centre of scientific&medical knowledge
  • Doctors took exams from 931 AD,woman drs were allowed
  • Dissection was forbidden
  • AVICENNA father of modern medicine wrote The Canon of Medicine
  • True scientific tradition did not appear in the west until the 16th century ,after a long incubation in the Islamic world


  • The Renaissance Awakening(1300:1500 AD)
  • Word renaissance means REBIRTH,was a period of great awakening in western history,it began in Italy&spread to all of western Europe
  • Rebirth is used in 2 ways
  • Rediscovery of ancient classical texts
  • Rebirth of European culture
  • Word renaissance used for the first time by VASARI
  • Alchemy,Astronomy were the important developments
  • Invention of CARAVEL the 1st truly ocean going ship
  • John arderne,Leonardo da vinci,Paracelsus,Fracastoro were the impo personalities of this period



  • Significant gain of knowledge in the fields of anatomy,surgery,pathology&physiology
  • Older wrong notions&concepts were laid to rest,valid ideas &theories were put on firm footing&more scientific methods were advocated
  • Impo contributions were made by Vesalius,Eustachi,Colombo,Fallopio,Robert hooke,Leeuwenhoek,Pare,Harvey,Francis bacon,Rene Descartes,Syivian,Sydenham,Robert boyle,Stahl,Hoffman,Morgagni,Smellie during this period


(A) 18th &19th century

  • People moved from villages to towns,many industries developed
  • Dirt,overcrowding,poor sanitation were the disadvantages of industrial revolution
  • Vaccination& xrays were the 2 big medical advances of this time
  • Era of impo inventions like stethoscope,thermometer,hypodermic syringe
  • Biochemistry played impo function in diagnosis
  • Age of anaesthetics
  • Revolution in community health &preventive medicine
  • Nursing was made a profession
  • Predominant theories were :miasma theory of disease
  • Development of Homoeopathy


  • Sanitary science,hygiene&preventive medicine made impo developments
  • Serum therapy
  • Science of bacteriology
  • Martinus beijerinck enhanced virology &culture techniques
  • Specific diseases&their causes were found
  • Dentistry made advances
  • Immunology made advances
  • Science of vitaminology developed
  • Psychiactory developed
  • Use of antiseptics&asepsis
  • Ophthalmology developed
  • Oncology advanced
  • Endocrinology developed
  • Progress of pharmacology
  • Introduction of synthetic drugs
  • Obstetrics made much advances



  • Eradication of small pox
  • Development of Humulin(human insulin)
  • Human genome project was launched
  • Scanners developed


  • Nanotechnology made advances,nanomedicine developed

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