The History of Medicine, Part 1

According to Sir William Osler, Imhotep was the real Father of Medicine, about 4,000 years ago, writes TRACY LATZ MD.

The first figure of a physician to stand out clearly from the mists of antiquity, Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases: 15 diseases of the abdomen, 29 of the eyes, 11 of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated gout, tuberculosis, appendicitis, gallstones, and arthritis.

In addition to performing surgery and some dentistry, Imhotep extracted medicine from plants. He knew the position and function of the vital organs and circulation of the blood system. The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “The evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep’s reputation was very respected in early times…His prestige increased with the lapse of centuries and his temples in Greek times were the centers of medical teachings.”

Imhotep was worshipped as a god and healer from approximately 2850 B.C. to 525 B.C., and as a full deity from 525 B.C. to 550 A.D. He lived during the Third Dynasty at the court of King Zoser in Egypt. Imhotep was a known scribe, chief lector, priest, architect, astronomer and magician (medicine and magic were used together in that era). For 3000 years he was worshipped as a god in Greece and Rome. Early Christians worshipped him as the “Prince of Peace.”

When the Egyptians crossed the Mediterranean, becoming the foundation of the Greek culture, Imhotep’s teachings and philosophies were absorbed there. The Greeks equated him with Aesculapius (Hermes). He was regarded as the god of study and in later times took on some of the attributes of Thoth or Tehuti as the scribe of the gods.

In the time of Imhotep, healing was considered one of the secret sciences of priestcraft. Candidates aspiring to be trained in the healing tradition underwent severe tests or initiations to prove their worthiness at various stages of their training. Among the ancients, philosophy, science and religion/spirituality were never considered as separate units- they comprised a balanced whole – and this concept was considered integral to healing modalities.

The Father of Medicine

The story of Imhotep disappeared in Greek mythology over time and was forgotten for thousands of years, A legendary figure, Hippocrates, who appeared 2000 years later in 5th century BC, became known as the Father of Medicine.

Hippocrates segregated the healing art from the other sciences of the medical training and established a precedent for scientific separateness, incomplete healing, and materialism present in current modern-day medicine. Doctors began to be trained to only accept that which can be experienced through the concrete perceptions of the five primary human senses. This is why physicians today take the Hippocratic Oath.

It was the physician/alchemist Theophrastus Paracelsus (1493-1541) who wandered through Europe, Africa and Asia in search of the ancient writings and philosophies on healing who resurrected and preserved for us the true Hermetic Principles of healing and disease.

However, Paracelsus was widely ridiculed by his peers of his time as well as many physicians today. It is only a matter of almost humorous historical interest that ALL modern-day medical students are taught the Paracelsus’ Hermetic Principles of Disease and Cures during a required History of Medicine class in the first semester of medical school.

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Click here to go to The History of Medicine, Part 2.

Many thanks to Shift Your Life for permission to use an extract from this article.

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