Talk:Medieval medicine of Western Europe

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I[edit]

(I have added significantly to the article using some of the comments here as a guide.) xandar

It was thought that illnesses were supernatural or spiritual, not organic. The sick relied on priests, not doctors, and constantly prayed to God for cures. The medical practice was slow to be accepted because superstition was so widespread.

The article fails to be NPOV, is a product of purely materialistic thought without any metaphysical knowledge and does not take into account Alternative medicine, Aura, Chakras and Spirituality. Optim 23:24, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)

You should add, then, exactly what the thoughts of medieval practitioners were on alternative medicine, aura, chakras and spirituality. - Nunh-huh 23:31, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I already worked a lot on this, wikified it and pointed to the NPOV problem. Let somebody else turn it into an article (it's an essay right now). Optim 23:39, 22 Feb 2004 (UTC)


Keep in mind that this is just an essay written by an eigth grade student and the views expressed are merely those as interpreted from the resources used to gather the information. I would appreciate it if any biases or incorrect information be corrected. Thank you for your input.

Considering this, I want to thank you for your contribution. Optim 04:50, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

To the person who will rewrite the essay[edit]

Optim 05:04, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)


Other thoughts to consider:

  • Prayers, herbs, and superstition were certainly medieval: alternative medicine and Bach flower remedies were not. Rosicrucians are largely irrelvant to health care. The modern versions of chakra, qi, and Chinese "traditional" medicine may have their roots in the past but differ considerably from their medieval predecessors. Advances in life expectancy have been due to medical knowledge about sanitation and childbirth as well as scientific validation and invalidation of therapies, with those that do not work being discarded, and those that do work being refined. The medieval period probably should end with the beginning of the Renaissance. - Nunh-huh 05:21, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
  • Rosicrucians are not irrelevant to health care. By tradition, Rosicrucians are therapists, too. Optim 05:26, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)
    • Rosicrucians had no significant impact on health care in the Middle Ages. -- Nunh-huh 05:28, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)



Medieval medicine was an evolving (perfectly static, until Arabic treatises were made available through translations of documents in Toledo) mixture of the scientific (actually not even "proto-scientific" until the 16th century; disambiguate medieval and Renaissance medicine) and the spiritual (superstition couched as theology is more accurate). In the early middle ages, following the fall of the Roman Empire, standard medical knowledge was based chiefly upon surviving Greek ( no one could even read Greek except a few Irish monks) and Roman texts, (Roman texts = Galen, period) preserved in monasteries and elsewhere (elsewhere? where are the surviving manuscripts from?). Ideas about the origin and cure of disease were not, however, purely secular, but were also based on a spiritual world view (is this NPOV or something? there's almost no information in this phrase), in which factors such as destiny, sin, and astral influences (miasma?) played as great a part as any physical cause. How to begin? with prohibitions of dissection? with medicine as first taught in universities? Wetman 17:20, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)


The idea that medieval medicine was "static" is outdated. There was continuous change as folk-medicine evolved and interacted with surviving classical influences. The impact of Christianity on Pagan folk-medicine was also considerable. Throughout the period there is a development away from isolated local traditions towards a pan-european tradition. Herbal medicine was developed and codified, hospitals (of sorts) were established. xandar.

The claim that in the Middle Ages "no one could even read Greek except a few Irish monks" is exaggerated. While in Northern Europe an education in Greek was very far from general, and Greek manuscripts were hard to come by, it was still possible for dedicated people (who were not necessarily Irish) to acquire some knowledge of Greek. Moreover, in Italy, where there was still a large Greek-speaking population, and which had close connections (both friendly and hostile) with the Byzantine Empire, there was necessarily a broader knowledge of Greek. And of course, the Byzantines themselves spoke, read, and wrote Greek, both ancient and demotic, with considerable proficiency, and were well aware of their own medical tradition.RandomCritic (talk) 11:55, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

Non-wikified information available.[edit]

I have written a six page paper on this, as well as a bunch of notecards that did not make it into the paper, I am willing to take the time to type up the notecards and upload the paper, but am not willing to take the time to wikify these or make them NPOV. I would like the information to be of use for Wikipedia. What would be the appriate place to put this information.

P.S. This paper is for a western civilization class, so does not cover medieval medicine in other places of the world. Appendicitis

Leeches applied to flesh over the affected part and allowed to gorge themselves until the appendix itself is exposed. This is then sawn off. Arthritis

Bunches of dried thyme inserted into patient's gloves and socks. Asthma

Cough mixture made of crushed leeches and garlic. Blood Poisoning

Examine any attached leeches for symptoms of illness (boils, lesions, etc.). Remove any unwell leeches and apply fit ones to poisoned areas. Broken Limbs

Chives strapped to limb. Bubonic Plague

Fennel bulbs, leeches, and hacksaw posted to patient. Burns

Buttered leeches applied to affected skin. Cataract

Leech inserted under each eyelid. Diarrhea

Aniseed or attar of roses inserted into patient's bucket to reduce smell. Earache

Two or more leeches worn as earrings while symptoms persist. Flat Feet

Insert coriander leaves between toes. In ineffective, saw off feet. Foot and Mouth Disease

Saw off all affected areas. Hiccoughs

Balance leech on key and drop it down patient's back. Impetigo

Leeches. Indigestion

Leeches. Leechbite

It leech no longer present, apply poultice to wound. If leech still attached, saw it off. Measles

Young leech attached to each measle individually. Nosebleed

Fat leech crammed up each nostril to staunch the flow. Palsy

Allspice. Pleurisy

Cumin seed. Pneumonia

Flat-leaved parsley. Root-canal Work

Leeches. Surfeit of Lampreys

Live leeches, three times a day during meals, to be taken internally. Syphilis

Apply leeches indiscriminately. Toothache

Leech applied to scrotum to take patient's mind off pain in jaw. Verruccas

Poke repeatedly with cinnamon stick. Warts

Charm wart by engaging it in flattering conversation. When you have got it alone, saw it off. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.84.42.162 (talk) 18:02, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Confusing section[edit]

In the section entitled The medieval system, the first paragraph is confusing -- it refers to a person as "he" where no people are mentioned. It appears to be a hybrid of two separate paragraphs, one about medieval medicine and one about Hippocrates. Someone the Person (talk) 21:27, 24 March 2010 (UTC)