Famous Medical Pioneers

Over the centuries there have been many people who have made a significant contribution to the development of medicine and medicinal knowledge. Here are just a few of them.

The first of these is Hippocrates, who is referred to as the father of modern medicine. He separated medicine from religion. He promoted the idea of rest being important for treatment and cleaning wounds. He studied the human body carefully and looked at the causes of illnesses, taking a more holistic view than had been tried previously.

Avincenna (Ibn Sian) was a Persian thinker who helped to develop a range of knowledge, in the medical field as well as philosophy and maths. He wrote a medical textbook consisted of five volumes and that remained in use for centuries.

Moving forwards to more modern times, Edward Jenner was born in 1749. He was English and worked mainly on immunology. He created the concept of the vaccine and worked on those used against diseases such as smallpox. His work has led to the eradication of some dangerous illnesses and gave the modern world the knowledge and the ability to protect humans against illnesses such as flu.

Medicine in the Ancient World

A form of medicine developed in several ancient civilisations. These peoples based their medicines upon herbs and other plants as they soon discovered that they had medicinal properties. The interest that they took in human health formed the basis of medical knowledge.

In Egypt there were healers, but they were generally priests who had some knowledge of medicinal plants. It was often the case that medical techniques were combined with prayers. The ancient Egyptians had a papyrus, known as the Edwin Smith papyrus, that contained information on how to treat injuries, wounds and illness. The basis of the papyrus has a very scientific approach. The Egyptians had clearly studied the symptoms and effects of various conditions and had studied the human body in detail.

In India, around 1000 BC, the Artharva Veda was published. This was a similar medical text and the Indians took a similar approach to the Egyptians in that theirs was also combined a little with religion and magic.

China had developed a great deal of knowledge about the healing powers of herbs and had extensive surgical knowledge. They looked more at imbalances in lifestyles, healthy eating and lack of exercise. People were starting to look more at the causes of the illness than the resulting symptoms.

In ancient Greece it is the work of Hippocrates that is famous in the medical world. This is one of the first civilisations that separated it from religion and magic. However, there were still philosophical aspects to it and the focus on internal balance was very important.

How Do Antibiotics Work?

Anyone who has ever suffered from an infection may have been prescribed antibiotics to combat it. An antibiotic is a substance that is designed to prevent the growth of a bacteria or to kill it completely. We also have disinfectants and antiseptics but these deal with bacteria in a different way. A substance that is designed to kill the bacteria is called an antibiotic – if this is not the aim then it falls into one of the other categories.

Most antibiotics are synthetic in design but there are others that have their basis in nature and use natural substances as part of the ingredients. Some are devised in response to a new type of infection while others are reformed and reworked to help to prevent infections from becoming immune to them.

Most antibiotics are designed to treat a range of bacterial infections while others are designed to deal with one specific type of infection. As an example, many people may have been prescribed penicillin in the past. This can be used for a variety of infections and many doctors will turn to it as the antibiotic of choice. However, for a rarer infection such as MRSA a more specialist antibiotic may be used.

How Do Vaccines Work?

A vaccine is a medication that is administered to help protect the individual from contracting a disease. The vaccine works by helping the body’s immune system to recognise the relevant pathogens so that it can fight against them. The vaccine is created from some of the molecules of the relevant pathogen, this will help the body to start the required immune response.

The molecules are referred to as antigens and all bacteria and viruses have them. The immune system will produce antibodies to fight against the illness and it trains the body to remember them in the future. If the illness comes back, the immune system should take an aggressive stance against it and prevent it from growing into an illness.

Herd immunity

If a vaccine is administered to a lot of people, then this helps to protect people who haven’t had the vaccine. The virus does not spread as so many people are protected. It means that there is the potential for the virus to die out completely. This is known as ‘herd immunity’, and there are instances where an illness has been eliminated completely as a result.

Understanding Vitamins

Vitamins are an essential part of our diet and are included in the vast majority of foodstuffs in varying quantities. They are nutrients and they are needed for functions such as the repair of tissues, the maintenance of healthy bones, aiding growth and supporting the immune system. We need them and eating a balanced diet will help to make sure that we get exactly what we need. Supplements can be useful but they are not a substitute.

There is a total of 13 different vitamins and everyone needs all of them. The existence of vitamins was discovered in 1912. They were divided into two groups – those that are fat-soluble and those that are water-soluble. This defines how the body stores and processes the vitamins.


The body’s fat cells will store this type of vitamins. It also means that a certain amount of fat is required for the body to absorb the vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are all vitamins that fall into this category.


These are the vitamins that the body cannot store. Anything it does not need it will remove through the waste removal process. This means that the body needs to have a regular supply of these vitamins. Vitamins B and C fall into this category.

It is important that you know where to find these vitamins. For vitamin A, look to spinach, carrots, potato and eggs. For vitamin D, it is mainly found in dairy products. Vitamin E is found in seeds and nuts as well as leafy green vegetables. It is well-known that vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits. Vitamin B is different as there are different types of it, but a good balanced diet will help to cover all types of Vitamin B.

Eating for Good Health

For any individual who wants to make sure that they are as healthy as possible, the best place to start is with diet. The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ is very true. Food is not just something that is there for amusement or to fill time. It is fuel and the body needs it to function properly. Choosing the right foods can help to keep a person in the best of health. Here are a few tips to help you to choose the right foods.


So many people try to avoid carbs but they are an essential part of the diet. It is recommended that you use starchy carbohydrates for one third of the total amount of food eaten. This includes bread, rice, pasta, cereals and potatoes. However, it is recommended that you choose wholegrain or high fibre versions. These can help you to feel fuller for longer and keep the tendency to snack at bay.

Boost fruits and vegetables

It is recommended that everyone should include at least five different types of fruit and vegetables in your diet each day. This is not limited to fresh fruit and vegetables though, it can be canned, juiced, dried or frozen too. It is relatively easy to do. Fruits can be added to breakfast cereals or you can make a smoothie from several portions of fruit and vegetables as an alternative breakfast.

Include more fish

Fish is an alternative to meat when it comes to protein and it naturally includes a good amount of vitamins and minerals. Most people are advised to have at least two portions of fish each week and one of these should be oily fish, which has good levels of omega-3. This is known to be good for heart health.

Reduce saturated fat and sugar

All diets need some fats but saturated fat can have a negative impact on levels of cholesterol. Women should aim for no more than 20g of saturated fat a day and men should have no more than 30g. This means checking the fat content of the food that you eat and making sure that consumption of foods such as butter, hard cheese, cakes and biscuits is kept as low as possible. Look for foods that have unsaturated fats and choose leaner cuts of meat.

Benefits of Alternative Medicine

The popularity of alternative (or complementary) medicine is not in any doubt. A lot of people prefer to try alternative or natural remedies before turning to standard medication and the growth of it’s popularity shows no signs of waning.

There are a variety of benefits to this type of medicine. They generally work on holistic principles. This means that the aim is to treat the body and mind and not just the specific symptoms that are being experienced. The use of alternative medicine helps to combat the environmental and lifestyle habits that damage our health and wellbeing.

Few side effects

Natural remedies are often plant-based and used in as pure a form as possible. This helps to minimise any potential side effects. Anyone who has read the list of side effects on a conventional medication is generally horrified at the potential problems that they might face by taking it. In reality, only a small proportion of people will experience a serious side effect, but for those who want to avoid them as much as possible, then a natural remedy is a valid alternative.


Many natural remedies are low in cost when compared with conventional medications. As an example, a small bottle of lavender oil costs just a few pounds and it can be used to help a variety of conditions. It can be used in aromatherapy to help with sleep, heal wounds and soothe bruises. A conventional cream would not be able to do all of these so you would have to spend more money for solutions to these things than you would on the oil.

Holistic approach

There are many conditions that are caused or aggravated by stress. For this reason, alternative medicine is designed to treat the whole person rather than just the symptom. As an example, if someone is unable to sleep, it could be due to stressful days at work. Finding it easier to cope with stress in the workplace will help to solve the problem with lack of sleep.