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The balance of humours in humans could be achieved by diet, medicines, and by blood-letting , using leeches. The four humours were also associated with the four seasons, black bile-autumn, yellow bile-summer, phlegm-winter and blood-spring. Healing included both physical and spiritual therapeutics, such as the right herbs, a suitable diet, clean bedding, and the sense that care was always at hand.
Other procedures used to help patients included the Mass, prayers, relics of saints, and music used to calm a troubled mind or quickened pulse. In , in Sicily, it was historically given, in relationship to the laws of Federico II that they foresaw an examination with a regal errand of physicists, the first qualification to the exercise of the medicine to a woman, Virdimura a Jewess of Catania, whose document is preserved in Palermo to the Italian national archives. The Renaissance brought an intense focus on scholarship to Christian Europe. A major effort to translate the Arabic and Greek scientific works into Latin emerged.
Europeans gradually became experts not only in the ancient writings of the Romans and Greeks, but in the contemporary writings of Islamic scientists. During the later centuries of the Renaissance came an increase in experimental investigation, particularly in the field of dissection and body examination, thus advancing our knowledge of human anatomy.
Vesalius described in detail the anatomy of the brain and other organs; he had little knowledge of the brain's function, thinking that it resided mainly in the ventricles.
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Over his lifetime he corrected over of Galen 's mistakes. Understanding of medical sciences and diagnosis improved, but with little direct benefit to health care.
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Few effective drugs existed, beyond opium and quinine. Folklore cures and potentially poisonous metal-based compounds were popular treatments. Independently from Ibn al-Nafis , Michael Servetus rediscovered the pulmonary circulation , but this discovery did not reach the public because it was written down for the first time in the "Manuscript of Paris"  in , and later published in the theological work which he paid with his life in Later this was perfected by Renaldus Columbus and Andrea Cesalpino. In the English physician William Harvey made a ground-breaking discovery when he correctly described the circulation of the blood in his Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus.
Before this time the most useful manual in medicine used both by students and expert physicians was Dioscorides ' De Materia Medica , a pharmacopoeia. Bacteria and protists were first observed with a microscope by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in , initiating the scientific field of microbiology.
Paracelsus — , was an erratic and abusive innovator who rejected Galen and bookish knowledge, calling for experimental research, with heavy doses of mysticism, alchemy and magic mixed in. He rejected sacred magic miracles under Church auspisces and looked for cures in nature. His hermetical views were that sickness and health in the body relied on the harmony of man microcosm and Nature macrocosm.
He took an approach different from those before him, using this analogy not in the manner of soul-purification but in the manner that humans must have certain balances of minerals in their bodies, and that certain illnesses of the body had chemical remedies that could cure them. Paracelsus is a highly controversial figure in the history of medicine, with most experts hailing him as a Father of Modern Medicine for shaking off religious orthodoxy and inspiring many researchers; others say he was a mystic more than a scientist and downplay his importance.
The University of Padua was founded about by walkouts from the University of Bologna , and began teaching medicine in It played a leading role in the identification and treatment of diseases and ailments, specializing in autopsies and the inner workings of the body. The intensive study of Galen led to critiques of Galen modeled on his own writing, as in the first book of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica.
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Andreas Vesalius held the chair of Surgery and Anatomy explicator chirurgiae and in published his anatomical discoveries in De Humani Corporis Fabrica. He portrayed the human body as an interdependent system of organ groupings. The book triggered great public interest in dissections and caused many other European cities to establish anatomical theatres. At the University of Bologna the training of physicians began in The Italian city attracted students from across Europe.
Taddeo Alderotti built a tradition of medical education that established the characteristic features of Italian learned medicine and was copied by medical schools elsewhere. Turisanus d. He became Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at the University of Bologna in , where he established anatomy as a major branch of medicine for the first time. Aranzi combined anatomy with a description of pathological processes, based largely on his own research, Galen, and the work of his contemporary Italians.
Aranzi discovered the 'Nodules of Aranzio' in the semilunar valves of the heart and wrote the first description of the superior levator palpebral and the coracobrachialis muscles. His books in Latin covered surgical techniques for many conditions, including hydrocephalus , nasal polyp , goitre and tumours to phimosis , ascites , haemorrhoids , anal abscess and fistulae.
Catholic women played large roles in health and healing in medieval and early modern Europe. The Catholic elites provided hospital services because of their theology of salvation that good works were the route to heaven. The Protestant reformers rejected the notion that rich men could gain God's grace through good works—and thereby escape purgatory—by providing cash endowments to charitable institutions. They also rejected the Catholic idea that the poor patients earned grace and salvation through their suffering.
In London, the crown allowed two hospitals to continue their charitable work, under nonreligious control of city officials. They were employed by parishes and hospitals, as well as by private families, and provided nursing care as well as some medical, pharmaceutical, and surgical services.
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Meanwhile, in Catholic lands such as France, rich families continued to fund convents and monasteries, and enrolled their daughters as nuns who provided free health services to the poor. Nursing was a religious role for the nurse, and there was little call for science. During the Age of Enlightenment , the 18th century, science was held in high esteem and physicians upgraded their social status by becoming more scientific. The health field was crowded with self-trained barber-surgeons, apothecaries, midwives, drug peddlers, and charlatans.
Across Europe medical schools relied primarily on lectures and readings. The final year student would have limited clinical experience by trailing the professor through the wards. Laboratory work was uncommon, and dissections were rarely done because of legal restrictions on cadavers. Most schools were small, and only Edinburgh, Scotland, with 11, alumni, produced large numbers of graduates.
In Britain, there were but three small hospitals after Pelling and Webster estimate that in London in the to period, out of a population of nearly , people, there were about medical practitioners. Nurses and midwives are not included. There were about 50 physicians, licensed surgeons, apothecaries, and additional unlicensed practitioners.
The London Dispensary opened in , the first clinic in the British Empire to dispense medicines to poor sick people. The innovation was slow to catch on, but new dispensaries were open in the s. Guy's Hospital , the first great British hospital opened in in London, with funding from businessman Thomas Guy. Samuel Sharp —78 , a surgeon at Guy's Hospital, from to , was internationally famous; his A Treatise on the Operations of Surgery 1st ed.
English physician Thomas Percival — wrote a comprehensive system of medical conduct, Medical Ethics; or, a Code of Institutes and Precepts, Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons that set the standard for many textbooks. In the Spanish Empire , the viceregal capital of Mexico City was a site of medical training for physicians and the creation of hospitals. Aztec emperor Cuitlahuac died of smallpox. Medical education instituted at the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico chiefly served the needs of urban elites.
Male and female curanderos or lay practitioners, attended to the ills of the popular classes.
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The Spanish crown began regulating the medical profession just a few years after the conquest, setting up the Royal Tribunal of the Protomedicato, a board for licensing medical personnel in Licensing became more systematic after with physicians, druggists, surgeons, and bleeders requiring a license before they could publicly practice. Elites and the popular classes alike called on divine intervention in personal and society-wide health crises, such as the epidemic of The intervention of the Virgin of Guadalupe was depicted in a scene of dead and dying Indians, with elites on their knees praying for her aid.
In the late eighteenth century, the crown began implementing secularizing policies on the Iberian peninsula and its overseas empire to control disease more systematically and scientifically. Botanical medicines also became popular during the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries. Spanish pharmaceutical books during this time contain medicinal recipes consisting of spices, herbs, and other botanical products. For example, nutmeg oil was documented for curing stomach ailments and cardamom oil was believed to relieve intestinal ailments.