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Anatomy, Physiology, and Biology Of The Ancient World And Today

If you read the book, "Galen On The Natural Faculties", you may find it surprising, that there were two primary (and opposing) scientific approaches to disease and sickness, even in the ancient world (500 BC - 200 AD).

1. The reductionist approach: (Reductionism seeks to separate and study individual components in isolation >>Think titles such as "cardiologist", "orthopedic", "dermatologist" - the list could go on...)

2. The holistic approach: (Holism emphasizes the interconnectivity and interdependence of all aspects of the body working together as one. And for it to operate at its best potential and overall well-being... understanding proper nutrition, and the causes of inflammation, is key.)

Needless to say, 20th century western notions of treating infections one at a time here in the United States, are now more and more giving way to 21st century genomic understanding of the human body as a microbial ecosystem that ought to be regarded holistically rather than by the reductionist approach.

And don't get me wrong... there will always be the two approaches available (there always has been), but interestingly enough, in the era we find ourselves in today, one could almost wonder if ancient teachers, such as Hippocrates and Galen are making a comeback as we see more and more of the holistic approach to disease and sickness (and overall health maintenance and well-being) reconsidered.

Observation taught Hippocrates to place unbounded faith in the recuperative powers of the living organism. His observation was that even with a very considerable “abnormality” of environmental stress, the organism, if given proper nutrition, in the large majority of cases, manages eventually by its own inherent powers to adjust itself to the new conditions. “Merely give Nature a chance,” said the father of medicine, “and most diseases will cure themselves.” And accordingly, his treatment was mainly directed towards “giving Nature a chance.”

Who is Galen, and where does he fit in the timeline of ancient medical practice?

Although Galen is an eclectic in the best sense of the term, there is one name to which he pays a very special tribute - that of his forerunner Hippocrates, who lived some 600 years before him.

“Hippocrates,” he says, “was the first known to us of all who have been both physicians and philosophers, in that he was the first to recognize what nature does.” Here is struck the keynote of the teaching of both Hippocrates and Galen.

I have found Galen's writings 'enlightening' as it granted me a glimpse into the ancient world, through his perspective of medical practice (and his argument against those who disagreed with him).

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