Ancient Greece Health and Medicine

Medicine all began in Ancient Greece by one man named Hippocrates (ca. 460-377 B. C. E); he is known as the father of medicine. It all began with the Greeks trying to come up with a logic system that would help them diagnose certain diseases. The logical system was based upon the fact that we had humors, and each person had four humours that were substances inside our bodies.

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The four substances were: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm (pronounced mucus, meaning boogers). They believed that if your four substances were balanced then you would remain a healthy person, but if one of your substances became unequal then you would become ill. If you became ill then the doctors believed that you had too much of one substances and that’s what was making you ill, therefore, they would go about trying to remove whatever extra substance you had. Hippocrates also made humours correspond with the seasons: the first season that of blood and air corresponded to spring; the summer was fire, bile and liver; autumn was earth, black bile and spleen, while winter was the season of water, of phlegm (mucus) and of the brain” (history of medicine). As for diseases many of them that surfaced in Ancient Greek many years ago are still here today and actually go by the same name in some cases. Also some of the treatments are in the same idea as we have today, but today we have a lot better technology and understanding of what is going on.

Firstly, the Greeks had cholesterol; cholesterol is a combination of two Greek words; “chole” meaning bile, and “steros” means solid. Cholesterol was first found as small stones inside of the gallbladder, and their cure was flaxseeds which show effectiveness is lowering high cholesterol. Secondly, the Greeks had diabetes. Diabetes comes from the Greek prefix ‘dia’ meaning apart and the word ‘bainein’ which means to stand, the word together meant a compass or a siphon. The word siphon was a reference to the excessive urination from a person with diabetes.

The Greeks with diabetes followed a very healthy diet and lifestyle, but diabetes was a very rare condition back then. Another major disease in ancient Greece was the Plague; Greece had a massive outbreak in the summer of 430. This outbreak left the doctors, patients, and people of the era with a lot of damage and heartache; they would never forget this disease. They really did not have a cure everyone was acceptable to this disease, but knowledge from previous outbreaks and information about the symptoms which helped them understand this outrageous disease. Other iseases that affected the Greeks were acne, migraines, allergies, anemia, leprosy, cholera, and gonorrhea. As for the people who actually treated the ill it was up to the, “Cult of Asclepius grew in popularity and was a major provider of medical care. This cult developed old theories and introduced several treatments not too dissimilar from modern ‘alternative medicines’” (Ancient Greek Medicine). The Ancient Greeks loved sports therefore most of the cities in Greece had public gymnasiums where citizens could gather to train, exercise, relax, and socialize.

Greeks were a firm believer that a healthy body was very important. Men and boys would practices sports daily not only because they enjoyed the sport but because they wanted to stay fit and in shape. Although sport wasn’t only good for getting fit and staying in shape, the Greeks would use it to prepare for war too; regular exercise was important in a society where men were always needed for military service. Armies had to be fit, they had to march long distances, carry all the heavy equipment, and begin the fight with the enemy.

Along with all that, the “athletics was a huge part of their education, many believed that developing the body was equally important as improving the mind for overall health” (M. Barrow). The youth would work out in the wrestling-school, palastra. The palaestra was a popular place for the Greek men of all ages to socialize. The wrestling school was for the serious competitors in the Olympics, and for the ones that were not serious. Men would work out with an athletic trainer who would use a long stick to point out errors in certain positions and other mistakes.

The “trainers would pay close attention to balancing the types of physical exercise and the athlete’s diet” (M. Barrow). Work cited: Ancient Greek Mythology Diseases, Health, Illness, Infections, Conditions. (n. d. ). Home Remedies and Natural Cures for Common Illnesses. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://www. home-remedies-for-you. com/facts/greek-medicines. html Ancient Greek medicine. (n. d. ). Schoolshistory. org. uk – online lessons – GCSE study aids – Teachers resources.

Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://www. schoolshistory. org. uk/ancientgreece. htm Barrow, M. (n. d. ). Sports and the Ancient Greece Olympics . Woodlands Junior School, Tonbridge, Kent UK. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://www. woodlands- junior. kent. sch. uk/Homework/greece/sports. htm History of Medicine. (n. d. ). Benvenuto in pacs. unica. it – Facolta di Medicina e Chirurgia dell’Universita di Cagliari. Retrieved October 26, 2011, from http://pacs. unica. it/biblio/lesson1. htm

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