CME INDIA Presentation by ⚜ Dr. M. Gowri Sankar, MD, Senior Assistant Professor, Dept. of General Medicine, Government Medical College and ESI Hospital, Coimbatore.
Today’s History Feature:
(130 AD – 210 AD)
💠 Ancient Physician & Philosopher
- Claudius Galen or Galen of Pergamun was born to the Greek parents in Pergamun (modern-day Turkey).
- In that period, Pergamun was considered a vibrant and one of the most cultural cities. It is also famous for Asclepius’ statue, a Greek God of Medicine. In fact, Galen showed a great devotion to God Asclepius throughout his life.
- Galen studied mathematics and philosophy under his father’s guidance.
- At 16 years of his age, his father had a dream in which God Asclepius appeared and told that “Galen must divert his efforts to medicine and healing art.”
- Thereby, he studied medicine at a local place. After his father’s death, he traveled to Mediterranean (Egypt) and spent around 12 years. There he learned some of the techniques in medicine and the art of healing.
- After completion of his studies, he returned home and became the chief physician in gladiator school at Pergamun.
- During his period, dissection of human body was made illegal in the Roman Empire. So Galen learned anatomy by treating the wounds of gladiators. Actually, he used wound as a window to see the functions of various parts of the body.
- Subsequently, he studied the comparative anatomy by dissecting animals and applied those to humans.
- Later, Galen moved to Rome and spent his remaining life in the Roman capital. There, he became a physician to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and then served as a physician to Aurelius’ successors.
- He was influenced by the historical figure Hippocrates and used to compare medicine with the natural philosophy of Aristotle and Plato.
- Thus, Galen brought philosophy into medicine and his methods came to be known as “Galenism.”
- Some of his significant successes in medicine are…
- 🔅 Diagnosis of disease by careful pulse reading method.
- 🔅 Diagnosis of disease by careful attention to the patient’s urine.
- 🔅 Diagnosis of physical symptoms caused by psychological disturbance.
- 🔅 Proved that urine forms in kidneys, not the bladder.
- 🔅 Cataract surgery.
- 🔅 Discovered that arteries carry liquid blood rather than, as previously thought, gaseous air.
- 🔅 Identified 7 of the 12 cranial nerves.
- 🔅 Identified two types of blood – bright red and dark red.
- 🔅 Discovered that the heart has four chambers and four valves and they allow blood to flow in only one direction.
- 🔅 Studied the female anatomy and said that ovaries are analogous to the male testes.
- Moreover, he was a prolific author and his books are still in existence. “The Kuhn Edition of Galen” which has 20,000 pages survives Greek with a Latin translation, in which he documented the previous work of historians in medicine and compared with his experimental findings.
- Undoubtedly, his doctrine of medicine dominated the Western and Arab medicine for around 15 centuries even after his death.
- Once Emperor Marcus Aurelius described Galen as “First among physician and unique among philosophers.”
A Towering Figure in Medicine and the Philosophy of Science.
Claudius Galen 🙏🏼
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