Antecedents of Modern Medicine


Miriam’s elderly friend Amram is flushed with fever and gasping for breath. Instead of bloodletting, Miriam recommends the opposite, that Amram’s physician use ligatures to trap the blood in his limbs rather than allow it to flood his chest. In addition, she recommends willow to ease his suffering.

The leaves and bark of a willow tree were used in ancient times to reduce aches and fever. Hippocrates himself wrote about its medicinal properties 600 years before Miriam’s time. Today, the extract of its bark is called salicin. Still wondering what it is? When introduced into the human body, salicin is converted into salicylic acid. In 1897, the Bayer company created a synthetic form, acetylsalicylic acid, which causes less digestive upset than salicylic acid. Now you know a little about the history of aspirin.

Aside from attempting to synthesize gold from base metals like copper, alchemists searched for an elixir to heal, rejuvenate, and extend human life. Accordingly, Miriam knew a great deal about Greek medicine and herbs. You’ll see in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series other antecedents of today’s medical practices.

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