Hippocrates is a radiant name in the history of medicine. The outstanding individual brought a new form into the field of ancient Greek medicine. Hippocrates’ most relevant and historical contribution is the Hippocratic School of medicine. This school changed the traditional means and modes of medicine in Greece. His tremendous achievements and efforts in systematic study of clinical medicine made him a great historical figure. Hippocrates is an exemplary name in the list of ancient physicians. The very commonly known ‘Hippocratic Oath’ has been derived from and credited to the first physician of human history – Hippocrates. Other achievements and noteworthy feats of the great physician include ‘The Hippocratic Corpus’ which is a collection of ancient Greek medical works strongly related and associated with Hippocrates and his teachings. Hippocrates was revered for being the first individual ever to have mixed philosophy with medicine. The gentle, meditative and prognosis ways of medicinal treatments were founded by Hippocrates making him much loved and criticised by common men and individuals of other fields of treatment respectively.
Traces and References of Hippocrates have been found in writings of Aristotle, John Tzetzes and Suda (a Greek encyclopaedia). According top some other biographical writings on Hippocrates it has been found that Hippocrates had a great family of physician and doctors as his ancestors and predecessors.
Hippocrates was probably the first medicine man to have started thinking that diseases are common and natural occurrences and not due to some external forces like superstition or gods. Pythagoras and his disciples had credited Hippocrates for associating philosophy and medicine. Hippocrates stated that disease was created by environmental factors, diet, and living habits. This has been affirmed by the ‘Hippocratic Corpus’ (a collection of several medical works completed in ancient Greek eras having strong association to Hippocrates and his teachings). Plato’s works have mention of Hippocrates.
The ancient Greek society was completely unaware of anatomical dissection and other bodily detection involved in treatment and medicinal cures. Medicine during Hippocrates’ time had nothing to do with human anatomy and physiology. This was solely because of the existence of Greek taboo forbidding the dissection of humans. It was in the studies of Hippocrates that mankind found the initial stages of general diagnosis and passive form of treatments. Hippocrates’ Koan school of medicine achieved tremendous success in right treatment because of their focus on patient care and prognosis, not diagnosis. Clinical practises became widely known because of Hippocrates. It was possible for Hippocrates (he opposed Greek infrastructure to develop the field of medicine) to introduce passive treatment (as nothing else was possible) as Greek taboo made human dissection forbidden.
Hippocrates never administered drugs. He was completely against this. He was so stuck up with his philosophy in medicine that he never engaged in specialized treatment because of the fear of wrong choice of treatment. Hippocrates belonged to a very ancient age when medicinal therapy was not known or existed in a very immature state.
Hippocrates mentioned and described clubbing of fingers as a very significant diagnostic sign of chronic suppurative lung disease, lung cancer and cyanotic heart disease. ‘Clubbed Fingers’ are symptoms widely and commonly known as ‘Hippocratic fingers’.
Other diseases described (and successfully treated on prognosis) by Hippocrates are suppuration or formation of pus in the lining of the chest cavity, rectal ailments and Hemorrhoids. The Hippocratic School of medicine treated illnesses by categorizing them as acute, chronic, endemic and epidemic. Hippocrates had used the terms exacerbation, relapse, resolution, crisis, paroxysm, peak, and convalescence to categorize illnesses in his own terms. Hemorrhoids was treated by Hippocratic physicians in advanced ways if treatment.
Although the Hippocratic school was poor in its medicinal fields and theories (due to the backward ancient era) the human rectum ailments and the possible treatments were described by the Hippocratic school.
There are several accounts of treatment methods written in ‘Hippocratic Corpus’. Several methods like Cautery and excision along with ligation have been mentioned in the Corpus. It has been mentioned that ligating the hemorrhoids and drying them with a hot iron treats hemorrhoids successfully. Various forms of balms and ointments have been suggested for treating ailments. The modern day usage of burning, strangling, and excising in treating hemorrhoids was first mentioned in the Hippocratic Corpus associated with Hippocrates. Hippocratic Corpus is an ancient collection of medical works that are believed to have been written by Hippocrates and his followers. The date, authors and bulk volumes cannot be affirmed or credited to any one person. So the general belief has been that all the records and medical writings are directly related with Hippocrates and his ideas and principles.
Hippocrates was born in Kos, Greece in 460 BC.
Hippocrates died in Larissa, Greece in 370 BC.