Hippocrates’ humoral pathology in nowaday’s reflections

Here we present the ‘Abstract’ of the corresponding paper by Bujalkova M, Straka S, Jureckova A.


Ancient medicine integrated three components: experience (empirical observation), religion/magic and speculations of natural philosophers. The Greek medicine out-achieved medicine of other ancient nations in starting to investigate the true causes of health and diseases and thus laying foundations for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Hippocrates, the most famous physician of the ancient times, made a synthesis of existing philosophical opinions from the point of view of a physician. His 58 writings were preserved in the collection “Corpus Hippocraticum”. The most relevant writing in it–“Peri fyseos anthropu” (On the nature of man)–is ascribed to Hippocrates’ son-in-law Polybos to whom we are grateful for the ancient humoral-pathological theory. In explaining human organism and its processes the author integrated ancient teachings on 4 basic humors (humoral theory), elements and qualities with observations of manifestations of health and disease. Normal condition (health) was defined as balance between the body fluids (eukrasia) and external environment. If this balance is disturbed, the result is dyskrasia, i.e. disease studied by pathology. According to Hippocrates disease causes can be understood only through empirical study. A man has a power to overcome disease, but to achieve it the right diet is necessary to keep harmony in body fluids of an organism. The role of a physician was just to support the nature. “Prognosis”, another writing included in “Corpus Hippocraticum”, reflects Hippocrates’ understanding of prognosis as a necessary development of diagnosis based on past knowledge (anamnesis) and present observation. Ideas of Hippocrates and his medical school are still valuable and inspiring especially for today’s very sophisticated medicine–concept of fighting diseases by natural means: maintaining healthy lifestyle and harmony within the organism, or an effort for perfect understanding of human creature and for humanization of medicine.

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11802300)


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