History of Medicine - Renaissance To Early Modern Period

Renaissance To Early Modern Period

The Renaissance brought an intense focus on scholarship to Christian Europe. A major effort to translate the Arabic and Persian scientific works into Latin emerged. Europeans gradually became experts not only the ancient writings of the Romans and Greeks, but in the contemporary writings of Islamic scientists. During the later centuries of the Renaissance came an increase in experimental investigation, particularly in the field of dissection and body examination, thus advancing our knowledge of human anatomy. The development of modern neurology began in the 16th century with Vesalius, who described the anatomy of the brain and other organs; he had little knowledge of the brain's function, thinking that it resided mainly in the ventricles. Over his lifetime he corrected over 200 of Galen's mistakes. Understanding of medical sciences and diagnosis improved, but with little direct benefit to health care. Few effective drugs existed, beyond opium and quinine. Folklore cures and potentially poisonous metal-based compounds were popular treatments. Independently from Ibn al-Nafis, Michael Servetus rediscovered the pulmonary circulation, but this discovery did not reach the public cause it was written down for the first time in the "Manuscript of Paris" in 1546, and later published in the theological work which he paid with his life in 1553. Later this was perfected by Renaldus Columbus and Andrea Cesalpino. Later William Harvey provided a refined and complete description of the circulatory system. The most useful tomes in medicine used both by students and expert physicians were Materia Medica and Pharmacopoeia.

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