Apoplexy in ancient medical writing

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Karenberg A, Moog FP.


To a certain degree, the history of neurology can be conceptualised as a history of important diseases related to the nervous system. Although most of these disorders were either first discovered or classified on an anatomical and physiological basis after 1800, early descriptions of neurological symptoms and theories about their origin date back to the medical literature of antiquity. Using the case study approach, this paper reviews ancient concepts of apoplexy from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD. Based on medical texts of more than 20 authors (e.g. Hippocratic writings, Aristotle, Diocles, Praxagoras, Celsus, Aretaeus, Soranus, Galen, Caelius Aurelianus), definitions of the disease, clinical symptoms, prognosis and differential diagnosis are described first, succeeded by a discussion of the hypotheses on aetiology and pathogenesis. Special emphasis is placed on the key principles of ancient medicine such as the doctrine of the four humours, the concept of the pneuma and the theory of the “communicates” and their explanatory power for neurological disorders. The following chapter is dedicated to classic therapeutic strategies. The paper concludes with a brief survey on the influence of ancient concepts on authors of later centuries.

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9480291)


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