WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM ANCIENT GREEK MEDICINE


As an alchemist, Miriam's mission was to rejuvenate and extend human life. Alchemists focused on transforming metals in an effort to apply those principles to living things. And so, Miriam learned a lot about Greek medicine. Looking back, we can find harmful aspects to their practices, such as bloodletting with unsterilized instruments and slathering patients with a mixture of wine and goats' manure to heal rib fractures. Still, I wondered what aspects of ancient Greek medical practices serve as a model for today's medicine. Rather than searching for "a pill for every ill," Greek physicians tailored their treatments more broadly and to the individual patient. They looked at patients holistically: their diet, amount of exercise, environment, and the season of the year. Listen to Miriam's response in THE DEADLIEST SPORT as she focuses on Amram, her father's elderly friend, as an individual: Stop the bloodletting and tie ligatures instead---not too tightly---around Amram's arms and legs, near his shoulders and just below the groin, to trap the blood in his limbs and keep it from flooding his chest. In the meantime, I'll pack up some willow. It'll reduce the fever and ease any distress. But in case his suffering becomes severe or he begins to vomit, get some cannabis as well. Do that, and I'll come over as soon as I can.

Similarly, today's physicians regard their patients in the context of their lifestyle and, in the wake of modern genetics, customize their treatments to the individual's DNA. If you'd like to learn more about ancient medicine and other aspects of life in first-century CE Alexandria, then pick up one of the novels in the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. They have won prizes both for their historical accuracy and riveting stories. Just click here.


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