Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

History

Greek methods of diagnosis and treatment

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. Back
  2. Next

Source analysis: Hippocrates

Diagnosis

First of all the doctor should look at the patient's face. The following are bad signs - sharp nose, hollow eyes, dry skin, strange colour of face such as green, black or leaden. If the face is like this, the doctor must ask the patient is he has lost sleep, or had diarrhoea, or not eaten.

Hippocrates, 'On Forecasting Disease' (c.500BC)

Treatments

For chest diseases

I think barley soup is better than all other cereal foods for chest diseases - also vinegar and honey, because they bring up phlegm.

For a pain in the side

A good thing is to apply a big soft sponge dipped in water. If the pain is spread as far as the collar bone, open the vein near the elbow and take away blood till it flows bright red.

For pneumonia

A bath will help pneumonia as it soothes the pain and brings up phlegm. But the bather must be still. He must do nothing himself, but leave the pouring of the water and rubbing to others.

Hippocrates, 'On Acute Diseases' (c.500BC)

Question

Once you have read the treatments described above, look for evidence that the Greeks:

  1. examined their patients and made a diagnosis based on observation
  2. used natural cures
  3. used cures based on the four humours
  4. used cures based on the balance of 'natural heat'
  5. wrote down what they knew so that their knowledge could be passed on

toggle answer

Answer

Evidence that the Greeks:

  1. examined their patients and made a diagnosis based on observation
    • 'First of all the doctor should look at the patient's face...'
  2. used natural cures
    • '... barley soup is better than all other cereal foods ... also vinegar and honey.'
  3. used cures based on the four humours
    • 'they bring up phlegm'
    • 'open the vein ... and take away blood ...'
  4. used cures based on the balance of 'natural heat'
    • 'A bath will help pneumonia ... but the bather must be still...'
  5. wrote down what they knew so that their knowledge could be passed on
    • Hippocrates, 'On Acute Diseases'
    • Hippocrates, 'On Forecasting Diseases'

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. Back
  2. Next

Back to Ancient Medicine index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.