A History Of The World Through Medicine

Post - Classical Period: 600 CE - 1450 CE

Wordle: Christian Medicine vs. Islamic Medicine

European Christian Medicine vs. Arab Islamic Medicine

    Christian Medicine and Islamic medicine are similar because both have a belief that God, or Allah, has created all diseases and has made a cure for every disease he makes. This belief drives both religions to further their knowledge in medicine, or attempt to. Muslims paved the way for new advances in medicine, because medicine was the center of Muslim culture during this time period. Christian medicine and Islamic medicine differ because in Christendom Europe, purging, bloodletting, and vomiting were the key techniques to keep the four humors in balance. The four humors are black and yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. Christians weren’t as knowledgeable in medicine and health as their Arab counterparts. In Arab Islamic, they resisted the use of these techniques, purging, etc.; because there were better medicinal items in the world that would help cure a disease. Arabs will be the ones to make advancements and create new ideas that will last for centuries.

    Christians and Muslims share similar religious characteristics, such as monotheism, missionary activities, and a holy book (Qur’an, and Bible). Religion was very important to the Europeans of Christendom, and Arabs of the Muslim World. The idea both shared that God, or Allah invented a cure for every disease, further the need for new information in the medicine field. In Christendom Europe, they believed that diseases were punishments from God, and that if you repented or fixed your sin that your disease would disappear. They had flagellants walking the streets inflicting pain upon themselves for penance for god. They believe that god would see their pain and give them mercy. These thoughts of punishments from God were not always the true because, diseases spread and people still died even after they repented. Towards the end of the post-classical period, Christians will start to search for new ways to cure disease, for they knew God created them, for the use of humans. The idea that the cure had a symbol it was the cure for a disease would appear. For example the seeds of the skullcap herb resembled a skull, and were used to treat headaches. Also the spotted leaves of the Lungwort looked like the lungs of a tuberculosis victim, and were used to treat it. In Arabia, scholars experimented with many different drugs, potions, and herbs on animals to see what the effects were. They created many new medicines from combining many different plants and chemicals together to see if they would help. They combined things such as camphor, musk, and honey to treat colds, and using a mixture of lupine, fenugreek, and zedoary seed to stop the excretion of sugar in patients with diabetes. The experiment with many things in the Arabian world helps scientist today find new medicines.

    Also in both Christendom Europe and Islamic Arabia, there were no physicians. Priests, or clerics in Arabia, were the medicine handlers. They were the only people the princes trusted to treat their illnesses because they were men of God, or Allah. They were also leaders, because they taught doctrine in church so people knew that they were knowledgeable. Even though in early medieval Europe priest used prayer, they could read Latin and Greek and could understand ancient Greek and Latin scholars for knowledge in medicine and health. Arab clerics also translated ancient Greek and Latin scholars works to Arabic and Persian and used their knowledge as a base for their research. Hellenistic scholars from the Greece, Macedonia, and Asia Minor area from the past laid the foundations for future clerics in Arabia.

    Arabia’s advancements in medicine led them to believe that purging, vomiting, and bloodletting, was not as sufficient and successful as using specific medicines for specific diseases. They knew that you could not treat all illnesses the same way. They did have an understanding in the humors, but this understanding was a way to find something in nature and use it for treatment. They moved beyond to extent of trying to “balance” the four humors by purging or vomiting. The use of actual tablets led to the production of pharmacies and pharmacists, Saydalanis, who gave actual prescriptions to patients. The advancement in pharmacies led to the pharmacist creating new drugs also.

    In Christendom Europe, their understanding of illnesses was very premature. They used the techniques of purging, vomiting, and bloodletting. Bloodletting was very popular in medieval Europe. This technique was not very sufficient and would leave patients weak. They would sometimes bleed the patients to death. They thought that by riding the body of the sinful blood that it would relieve any illness, but it also made it worse. During the epidemic of the Black Death, the priest and clergymen would burst the buboes of disease thinking it would let the bad things out but it spread the disease faster. Since the Europeans didn’t have as much advancements in medicine like their Muslim counterparts, toward the end of the post-classical era they borrowed many techniques and ideas from them.

    In conclusion, the difference in paths in medicine that the Christians and Muslims took led to the specific identity that they both have. Christians and Muslims are very different but very similar at the same time. Muhammad was influenced by the Christians faith and many guidelines in Islam are similar to those in Christianity. But since this time period today there are many different kinds of ways to be a Christian. Either way medicine in the Islamic world was a characteristic that help further the Muslims empire. People from other areas came to the Muslim world to learn from them. The Muslims medicine ideas spread due to the extensive empire they had. In Christendom Europe their lack of knowledge in medicine led to the epidemics of Black Plague, leprosy, etc. to take a hold on the population, killing many. But the deaths of many people were a driving force for wanting to find new ways to treat people. Even though it won’t happen as fast as the Muslims accomplishments did, it will happen.

Primary Source

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio

This a link to an introduction to the long story called The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. Boccaccio explains the "deadly pestilence" or Black Plague through his eyes. Boccaccio tries to escape the city of Florence, Italy with seven women, and three men. During there last days in the city of Florence each person told a story about the Plague through there eyes. It is ten days long with 100 stories.

Link to The Decameron

Secondary Source

The Black Plague by Anonymous

    This is a link to a essay written about the Black Plague. It is really mostly an informative essay. It tells you about the bacteria, how it was carried, and when it was introduced to Europe. It also tells where its originated. It really just a brief introduction, and will give you a top view of the Bubonic Plague in Europe.

Link to The Black Plague

Current Event in Medicine

    In 2010 a new drug was approved by the FDA. The drugs name is Natazia. Natazia is a oral birth control pill. It is the first birth control to have four phases of hormones for dosage. The drug is created by Bayer Health Care Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The drug is complete with negatives, being the side affects, and positive, by doing what it is made for. Their is also a generic version of Natazia.
    There are always new ideas for treatments, and new medicines for ailments that we have daily. The medical field is forever changing and is constantly being added to, such as new techniques, diseases, equipment, and medicine, etc. Even though we have no cures for the diseases that plague us now, the new discovery of other medicines keep hope for finding cures for diseases such as, cancer, HIV, AIDS, diabetes, influenza, asthma, and the common cold. These diseases wreck the lives of people every minute. But drugs being found every day gives us hope for a better future in the field of medicine.

Link to Event Story


This video was created by the alias "DrGull1888" of Youtube. The video is about the famous Avicenna. Known for creating the " Canon of Medicine". He is often called the "Prince of Medicine". The video explains the whole life story of the scholar Ibn Sina, or Avicenna.