Medicine Of Elizabethan Times Essay, Research Paper
Medicine of Elizabethan Times
????? For a dog bite: ?Boil all together one spoonful of tin shavings, one drum of treacle, a handful of rice, and a quart of ale?(Curtis 318). Pouring oil on wounds was believed to heal them fast(Ramsey 2). Bizarre remedies like this represent the medical ideas of Elizabethan times. Such ideas could be explained by the respect people had for superstitions that existed. This is why medicine of the Elizabethan times was based on superstition and intuition rather than medical fact. As a result of the middle ages, superstitions created by folk lore and witchcraft remained, even though knowledge of healing the body progressed. Treatments used during these times were both based on superstitions of the past and the medical facts of the present, and patients chose which they would rather have. In order to learn of better ways to treat illness, doctors had to test the old remedies and come up with new ones, and so quackery became common amongst so called doctors. Both people and doctors with true medical knowledge had their own opinions of medicine.
????? The knowledge of medicine which common folk possessed was passed down through generations of people. Such beliefs as witchcraft and black magic were to blame for most accidents and the unfortunate. It was also believed that witches with powerful spells were the cause for diseases and deformities(Kirkland 3).
????? Some people believed in wizards. Wizards were considered to be great magical beings because of their potions and sorcery. Acting like doctors, wizards offered great services at a cheap price. But most of their techniques were just as crude as the witches, with little medical data behind the remedies which they prescribe(Kirkland 4). Both wizards and witches believed what they thought was true, yet no real facts backed up these beliefs. Some remedies were truly made up, and people still believed them because the wizards believed their knowledge was true. ?For earache, put a roasted onion in the ear…? and ?…hang a horseshoe to ward off evil spirits,? (Kirkland 1). Such ideas like these were passed down through generations, and the people still used them because there was no proof against them.(Curtis 311)
????? The Catholic Church had their own religious beliefs about medicine. One could say that the opinion of the church was the strongest and its preaching were the real truths about medicine. No opinion could be higher than that of the church, otherwise you would be banished from studying the religion. Doctors, witches, wizards, white witches; all of these professions were considered enemies the church. Only doctors that used the teachings of the church could practice without being troubled by the church. This was bad because the preaching were based on superstitions of the past and not the real medical facts of the present time. Therefore, the advance motion of the knowledge of medicine was delayed because of the Catholic church.
????? Even though the Catholic religion was against certain types of doctors that existed, some subsidiaries condoned witchcraft and other professions of medicine. Small towns and villages far from key civilization had their own churches which were considered to be Catholic, but with subtle differences. The priest were men of Catholic background which used what knowledge they obtained from others. In other words, they preached for the goodness of the town which they lived in. If there was a doctor that could help others with their illnesses, the priest would be for this miracle of God.
????? Barber surgeons had the most respectable knowledge of medicine. Their treatments included cutting hair, pulling teeth, and even giving medications. These surgeons only based their treatments on real knowledge obtained from test on human subjects and the past treatments that truly worked. To prevent disease in the mouth, barbers would pull out the rotten decayed teeth. Before this practice it was not uncommon for people to die because of their dental hygiene. By pulling the rotten teeth, the others would remain intact and become better(Essay 1)(Mougotta 100).
????? It was also common to see barbers bleeding people, correcting one?s humors (it was believed that the body was composed of 4 humors, or fluids, and an imbalance of the levels of these substances resulted in disease).Barbers figured out eventually that this did not help much and stopped this treatment(Essay 1). These attempts to heal were not in vain. It was discovered through these efforts that bleeding a wound would help clean it and heal it faster(Ramsey 2).
????? The barber surgeons began to join together creating their own organization. They wrote a charter of what they believed, which was to set the rules of practicing medicine(Essay 4). In this charter, it was said that physicians must obtain degrees and that their practice was to do no harm. Amazingly, this charter paralleled the ?Oath of Hypocrates?, which basically, stated that no doctor will cause harm and always do their best to heal people. Though the Greek?s oath and the barbers charter were quite different, both had the same idea. Barbers did not want people executing hypocrisy posing as doctors and making money. They also did not want home grown human biologists that use human subjects in horrible ways to test common knowledge. For example, amputating a healthy person?s leg to see what happens even though this information had been gathered through battles in the past.
????? With Barbers doing small jobs here and there, someone was needed to hand out medications. These were known as Apothecaries(Sutcliffe 80). Such people acted like pharmacists to the public and came in many shapes and sizes. The most common apothecary to be found was a white witch. Also known as a wise woman, this apothecary traveled through villages with spices and herbs and other supplies to make concoctions for treatment of many illnesses. Surprisingly, these treatments worked effectively and therefore white witches were accepted pretty well by everybody in general. Even the church believed that God had a hand in the treatments which these wise women had spread across England.
????? Since every doctor had their own opinions of medicine, they were against the new foundings by others. A doctor has reputation with his patients which he would not like to lose. In order to maintain one?s status in the medical field, he must be arrogant to facts that were founded by other doctors or otherwise treat that knowledge as their own. Therefore most doctors competed with each other in their practices or chose to stay off another doctors ground.
????? While the aggressive competitions between doctors was going on, the patients suffered. Surgeons used human subjects to make their discoveries without any concern for the patient. Such tests not only harmed, but were fatal to people.
????? The appalling truth is that the competition of rival doctors is what contributed to the medicine of today. Without such experiments, the medical world would not have had the facts to produce the techniques used in surgery currently. Medications and ways to administer them would not exist, and people would still be suffering from common diseases.
????? Medicine of the Elizabethan times was a progression of events. A progression that began with a combination of potions, sorcery, superstitions and mysticism that evolved into an actual ?profession?. A profession that became an ethical practice structured in pursuit of remedy for the ill.