Panacea (medicine)

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The panacea /pænəˈsə/, named after the Greek goddess of universal remedy Panacea,[1] is any supposed remedy that is claimed (for example) to cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. It was in the past sought by alchemists in connection with the elixir of life and the philosopher's stone, a mythical substance that would enable the transmutation of common metals into gold.

Ancient Greek and Roman scholars described various kinds of plants that were called panacea or panaces, such as Opopanax sp., Centaurea sp., Levisticum officinale, Achillea millefolium and Echinophora tenuifolia.[2]

The Cahuilla people of the Colorado Desert region of California used the red sap of the elephant tree (Bursera microphylla) as a panacea.[3]

The Latin genus name of ginseng is Panax, (or "panacea") reflecting Linnean understanding that traditional Chinese medicine used ginseng widely as a cure-all.[4]

A panacea (or panaceum) is also a literary term to represent any solution to solve all problems related to a particular issue.[citation needed]

The term "panacea" is used in a negative way to describe the overuse of any one solution to solve many different problems, especially in medicine.[5] The word has acquired connotations of snake oil and quackery.[6]

Panacea (goddess)[edit]

In Greek mythology Panacea was one of the daughters of the Greek god of medicine Asclepius, along with her sister Hygeia. Hygeia was considered the goddess of preventative medicine while Panacea was the goddess of healing, or in a modern conception, the goddess of therapeutic drugs.[1] According to the mythology, Panacea had an elixir or potion with which she was able to heal any human malady.[7]

Panaceas metaphor in relation to modern medicine[edit]

The definition of panacea is a remedy for all ills or difficulties; a "cure-all".[8] Many in medicine believe that Panacea has a negative connotation because it is believed that there isn't a single method that can cure all diseases or fix all problems.

Hospital mergers[edit]

One modern Panacea may be hospital mergers.[9] Many hospitals in Europe and North America are going through mergers because it is believed that they are able to save on costs while being able to raise the quality of care for patients. The only problem is the statistics do not support either of these claims.[9]

Cancer clinical trials[edit]

Cancer clinical trials have played a vital role in many of the discoveries made in oncology, but it appears that this model has fallen behind and is now too outdated for it to be able to play a significant role in the fight against cancer.[10] Cancer clinical trials may be a form of panacea , a dire situation when new solutions are wanted.[10] Cancer is a complex disease attacking the body in many different ways. There are multiple steps that are needed to fully know everything about a specific cancer in a person's body.[10] Patients are required to go through physicals, lab testing, a biopsy and more. There are many different approaches to treatment such as surgery, medicine and radiation therapy.

Personalized medicine and health management[edit]

Health care has been revolutionized in the past 20 years or so. There have been many new approaches to medicine including how people take care of their personal health. Some studies have indicated that personalized medicine is the best approach for a person's health management. Personalized medicine could have a better effect on the "imperfect information related to diagnoses".[11] Many of the new tests that occur for people to undergo personalized medicine are genetic tests. People take these genetic tests to confirm that they are the best possible patients to receive these different type of new treatments. There is no proof that personalized medicine raises or lowers the economy.[11] Due to the multitude and unreliability of tests it is still unknown whether or not personalized medicine can be a Panacea for all conditions.[11] It is something that will continue to be studied and tested.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dyke, H.B. (1947). "The Weapons of Panacea". The July Scientific Monthly. 64: 322–326 – via JSTOR.
  2. ^ Glare, P.G.W. (1968). Oxford Latin Dictionary. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 1288.
  3. ^ Bean, Lowell John and Katherine Siva Saubel, 1972, Temalpakh (From the Earth); Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants, Banning, CA. Malki Museum Press, page 48.
  4. ^ Attele, AS; Wu, JA; Yuan, CS (1999). "Ginseng pharmacology: multiple constituents and multiple actions". Biochemical Pharmacology. 58 (11): 1685–1693. doi:10.1016/S0006-2952(99)00212-9. PMID 10571242 – via Cancer Network.
  6. ^ Örtenblad, Anders, ed. (18 December 2015). "Foreword by David Collins". Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas: Adaptation and Context. Research Handbooks in Business and Management series. Chelthnham: Edward Elgar Publishing (published 2015). p. xxvii. ISBN 9781783475605. Retrieved 21 November 2019. A panacea is [...] a cure-all. In modern medicine its lexical equivalents would include such things as 'elixirs', 'patent medicine' and 'snake-oil'. Panaceas are sold by 'quacks'. the purchasers of such preparations are, consequently, taken to be either gullible, desperate, or both.
  7. ^ Ortenblad, Anders (2015). Handbook of Research on Management Ideas and Panaceas: Adaptation and Context. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-78347-559-9.
  8. ^ "Definition of PANACEA". Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  9. ^ a b Weil, Thomas (2010). "Hospital mergers: a panacea?". Journal of Health Services Research & Policy. 15 (4): 251–253. doi:10.1258/jhsrp.2010.010035. ISSN 1355-8196. JSTOR 26751275. PMID 20660531.
  10. ^ a b c Lawler, Sullivan, Mark, Richard (2015). "Personalised and Precision Medicine in Cancer Clinical Trials: Panacea for Progress or Pandora's Box?". Public Health Genomics. 18 (6): 329–337. doi:10.1159/000441555. JSTOR 26687091. PMID 26555236. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Antoñanzas, Fernando (2015). "Is Personalized Medicine a Panacea for Health Management? Some Thoughts on Its Desirability". The European Journal of Health Economics. 16 (5): 455–457. doi:10.1007/s10198-014-0665-6. hdl:10.1007/s10198-014-0665-6. JSTOR 24774041. PMID 25501260.

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