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The Development of Medicine in the 19th Century

The Development of Medicine in the 19th Century

Diseases and illnesses have been present from the very earliest times, and medicine and cures have always been reliefs widely searched for. It was a long time however, before man acknowledged the ability to apply the appropriate medical treatment for certain diseases. This was due to the slow increase of knowledge of how the parts of the human body function. Before the great scientific discoveries and breakthroughs of the 19th and 20th centuries, medical procedures were very reliant upon nature. The medical practice involved little more than comfort for the patient until nature took it’s course. Doctors were not as refined and knowledgeable, operations were not as clean, and hospitals were not as sanitary as the conditions we are accessible to today. Natural instincts and intelligence are what have brought the medical practice to the discoveries and higher level of success in which we have today.


Early medicine was a mixture of a great deal of magic, charms and superstitions. The modern operation of trepanning for example was mimicked by the prehistoric people using a cure far beyond herbs, berries and chants. Skulls were found with little round pieces cut out of them which was known to be done in order to relieve sever headaches caused by brain tumours. Evidently, these primitive people abided to do this in order to let out and release evil spirits which they thought were lodged in the head. Trepanning was also a remedy for insanity, epilepsy and headaches, yet this procedure killed many people. Those who were practised on by such harsh medical techniques would probably have been more comfortable if the had not been treated at all.


Unlike these prehistoric methods, techniques today have been discovered in order to assure the patient of a fear free and painless operation. In this 21st century, a patient will be put unconscious by an anaesthetic gas or injection if they undergo a major surgery. The part of the body that is being worked on will be numbed by a local anaesthetic if the surgery is only minor. Great measures are taken to see that the surgeons and their assistants wear sterile clothing, and use clean, sanitary instruments, bandages and other equipment. These procedures were not yet evident at the start of the 19th century, making...

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