Sunday, 4 November 2012

Brief History of Medicine from 1350-present day

Apothecary - Somebody who made medicines (equivalent to chemist)
Black Death - A disease which came to England twice. First time in the 14th century and then again in 1665. It killed millions of people.
Medieval: Another name for the middle ages.
Reformation: A period of challenges and divisions within the Christian Church.
Renaissance: A time in the 16th and 17th century when new discoveries were made. People stopped believing in Galen.
Royal Society: A group of people in 1660 who discussed medical ideas.
Supernatural: Ideas which had nothing to do with science.

Living conditions in the time around 1350 were poor because people lived with animals, lived in one small room and they kept poo. This caused people to get ill and sometimes die. Spread of disease was easy as lots of people worked together. The average living expectancy was around 30 years old. Although richer people lived in bigger houses they were still lightly to catch diseases.

In this time people believed in Galen's theories. These theories were that the 4 seasons were linked with Blood, Yellow Bile, Black Bile and phlegm  These were also later linked with weather conditions. Lots of his treatments involved blood letting.

When the black death first came to England in the 1300's it was spread through flies and rats. It originally came from Asia and it wiped out a lot of the population. People believed that by whipping themselves, tying chickens to their armpits and eating cool things would stop the plague from spreading. Almost everybody believed in God and they thought that it was his way of punishing them.

Apart from the rich, not many people could afford to see a Doctor (a physician). A Physician would be very expensive and would often prescribe you medicines from the Apothecary (Chemist). The Physician's were trained and they had passed exams. During this time, Women were rated 2nd class so they were not allowed to become physicians. Physicians worked on Galen's theories.
The Apothecary isn't trained and he would mix herbs to make medicine which often didn't work.
Barber Surgeons cut your hair and did bloodletting if prescribed by a Physician.
Hospitals weren't around at this time so people were treated at home in dirty conditions.
Poor people would go and see the housewife physician, she wasn't trained but learnt from family teachings. This witch like person would use remedies to treat people.
If you couldn't see any of these people, you would often just pray to god.

The Medical Renaissance was between 1500 and 1750. A man called William Harvey went against the church and started doing experiments on dead people. He learnt that:

  • Veins only carry Blood, not blood and air.
  • Blood is not always being made by the liver, it circulates around the body.
Vesalius also did this and he learnt that: 
  • The septum in the heart does not have holes in it.
  • The liver does not have any lobes.
  • The lower jaw is one bone.
  • The sternum only has 3 parts.
People could often be killed if the Christian Church found out that they were doing experiments or autopsies on people. However during this time the Church had enough problems of their own with people constantly questioning them about Galen's theories. Both Harvey and Vesalius released books showing their findings.

The microscope and the printing press were invented during this time so books could be printed more easily and Scientists could look at atoms.

Although women were rated 2nd class, rich women often became local 'Wise Women' and treated people with herbal remedies. There were lots of rich Women doing this during this time.

Between 1750-1900 the way in which people were treated changed dramatically. Pharmacies started to open during this time, Vaccination was invented and the Pharmaceutical industry was established.

Anatomy: The structure of the human body.
Epidemic: An outbreak of an infectious disease.
Industrial Revolution: A time during the 18th, 19th and 20th century when factories and machinery started to be used a lot.
Inoculation: Getting a little bit of a disease and giving it to someone else so they become immune. It is not used anymore as it is risky and dangerous. 
Miasma: The theory that disease was caused by 'bad air'.
Patent Medicine: Medicine which is made and sold by a brand.
Spontaneous Generation: The idea that dead or dying things produce microbes.
Vaccination: A safe way to make someone immune to an illness. A Vaccination is made in a lab.
Pharmaceutical industry: The business of making drugs prescribes by a doctor.

During the Industrial Revolution people were living in slightly bigger houses with better living conditions as the toilet was now outside and people no longer lived with animals. Houses were also made out of a more sturdy material. 

Diseases in 1750-1900:
  • Cholera - Bacteria passed on through food and water.
  • Diphtheria - Spread through tiny droplets when coughing or sneezing.
  • Smallpox - Spread by touch or coughing or sneezing.
  • Tuberculosis - Spread through tiny droplets when coughing or sneezing.
  • Typhoid - Through contaminated food and water.
More people were believing in science so people believed that diseases were spread through Miasma and Spontaneous Generation.

Edward Jenner made the vaccination against Smallpox. He did this by taking a small sample of smallpox from one person and giving it to another person. This prevented them from getting smallpox.
Jenner linked smallpox and cowpox however he could not explain how it worked.  In 1852 thanks to Jenner, the government made it compulsory to get vaccinated. He also did lots more things which was an advantage for everyone both rich and poor.

The germ theory came from Louis Pasteur who was a French chemist. He discovered that heating up milk stopped it from going sour. He also invented 'pasteurising' which is done to milk to make it safe to drink.
A German doctor called Robert Koch expanded on Pasteur's ideas. He worked with a team funded by the German government. 

John Hunter made speeches about anatomy which helped more people understand Science. One of his students was Edward Jenner who later went on to discover Vaccination  He studied pregnancy too and published books about that. 

Florence Nightingale was a nurse during the Crimean War. She made health standards better wherever she went. Less people died because of her. She came from a wealthy family so she could afford to make a difference.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson also came from a wealthy family however she was turned away by medical schools. Eventually she learnt how to become a doctor and she opened her how medical practise in London.

As hospital health standards became better, more hospitals got built. More people started to get treated and life expectancy went up. 

Pharmacies were places where Chemists worked and they made drugs that could be given to people as long as they were prescribed by Doctors. 

Great Ormond Street hospital was set up in the 1800's, it was a leading example of a perfect hospital as it was clean and hygienic.

Key Words:
Antibiotics: Drugs that stop infections caused by bacteria.
Crystallography: Using radiation to take a high-powered x-ray picture.
DNA: Genetic instructions to every cell in our bodies.
Genetics: The study of genes and inherited characteristics. 
Magic Bullet: A chemical drug that kills the microbes causing a certain disease however without harming the rest of the body.
Prescription Charges: Medicine which costs money.
Radiotherapy: The use of radiation to attack Cancer.

Life expectancy has became a lot higher since 1900 because the more cures to diseases were being found and living conditions were almost excellent. People were aware of how disease spread and they became more hygienic because of it. By the end of 1990, less people were dying from treatable infections and instead diseases like Cancer were taking most lives as they are caused by radiation and not currently curable.

Scientists discovered the magic bullet during this time. This kills a certain disease without harming the rest of the body.

Penicillin was discovered around the time of World War 2 however it could not be used because it's ingredient list was expensive and needed items from all around the world. They tested it on mice first and then on people. It helped fight infections however it kept running out quickly.
The US government funded the making of Penicillin during the 2nd World War so injured soldiers would stop dying. The large scale production was in 1944.

The NHS was set up just after World War 2 as a free way for people of Britain to get medical treatment. It soon brought in a charge as more people than expected were using the service. Also, drugs were expensive to import. NHS hospitals were extremely clean and had a number of things to make the hospitals safe:
  • All beds had clean sheets.
  • Visitors were limited to control infection.
  • Technology was used to monitor people.
  • Nurses and doctors wore uniforms so they could be identified.
  • Curtains around beds to provide privacy.
Doctors and Nurses were trained the same way so everybody got the same treatment.

DNA was discovered by Crick and Watson in 1953 however it was 50 years later until everything we wanted to know was found out. Thanks to DNA, there were better skin grafts, better treatment for diabetes and more discoveries in Stem Cell research.

Technology was used more during the 20th century because it was becoming more readily available and it was extremely useful. Technology helped Scientists discover the 4 blood groups, helped them do more research, helped them treat people and they allowed people to monitor their own health.


  • MRI Scanners
  • X-rays
  • Radiotherapy
Some people, even now, believe in traditional methods because they are apparently less lightly to have dangerous side effects.