Supernatural is something which is not natural. This is something that does not exist or something that is beyond nature’s laws. However, natural is something that is within nature’s laws such as natural thinking. Natural approaches would be something that is lifelike and easy to believe. In my essay, I will be explaining what was more important: natural or supernatural approaches towards medicine and how this was changed over time. I will be explaining when there was a real ‘change’ in the medicine world and why this came about. There were many supernatural approaches coming from the Egyptians.
For example, in the Ancient Egypt period, people still believed that bad spirits were entered into their bodies and so they would need to cast them away with things. Many people casted out evil spirits by mixing up some sort of bad smelling herbs potion or they made charms that would protect them. These charms were called amulets. They also still believed in gods and goddesses such as Sekhmet who was the goddess of war. However, as well as the supernatural approaches, there were some natural approaches too. For example, the Egyptians did use herbal remedies which also included plants.
Embalming allowed people to identify certain parts of the body. Embalming is when you cut up a dead corpse’s body and take out the important organs that you want to research. After looking at these organs in full detail, you then preserve them so that the organs do not rot. Another thing that improved in the Egyptian period was writing. This is because the Egyptians developed a simpler and quicker form of writing as well as paper made from weeds. This paper was called ‘papyrus. ‘ People began using this to write down important ideas and discoveries that they had tried out.
Trade also brought many more natural thinking into the Egyptian period. This is because ships and merchants from other countries such as India, China and parts of Africa bought new herbs and recommended them as medicines. Another good impact in the Egyptian period was wealth. This played a big part as if Egyptians had more wealth, they would have been able to grow better crops which would have been useful to them and would help them a great deal with understanding medicine. Also, richer people were able to hire doctors for them and because they had better equipment, the cures were also better.
The River Nile and farming showed a lot of natural thinking as the Egyptians referred to the rivers as their bodies. This may not always have been correct but people were beginning to show that they understand medicine better than they used to before. As well as the Egyptians, the Greeks were not much different. They still believed in gods and goddesses and they began building Asklepians which were buildings where they believed you could get healed. You would have to stay over for the night and during the night, Ascleipius would attend you with his two helpers and you would get healed.
This has not been proven and so it is a supernatural approach towards medicine. Greeks also began thinking for scientific reasons for explanations. Some Greeks were passionate thinkers and were called ‘philosophers. ‘ This means that they were ‘lovers of wisdom’ and did not like the idea of gods curing you. In most Greek states, it was seemed important to get a good education and physical education. They thought that someone who had a fit and healthy body would be a sign of beauty. In the Greek states, there was not only one government but they were organised into many small governments.
This meant that people had a lot of freedom so that they could express their ideas and theories more clearly. There were many important figures such as Hippocrates and Galen. These figures were followed by many people even after they had past away as their work was preserved. The Romans one again was not much different to Egyptians and the Greeks. The Romans still believed in gods and goddesses. One goddess that they believed in was Salus who was the goddess of health. If people got ill, their first resort would be to turn to gods.
Doctors in the Romans period did not observe patients or record symptoms much however they did write down their methods. Doctors were seen as profiteers; they did not look at things to gain knowledge but just to gain money and wealth. Herbs were still used commonly as treatments and this was a natural approach to medicine. People were recommended by their doctors to take regular exercise in order to keep fit and healthy. To do this, people went to the gymnasiums. Operations were becoming more common and small operations were very common. Harder and much more complex operations could not have been carried out as they were far too risky.
Roman doctors however were not that interested in discovering the causes of disease which is why they did not get very far. Romans were more practical people than thinkers. Overall, I think that the main approach to medicine in the ancient world was natural approaches. There were a lot of supernatural ideas but I think that more people were beginning to think ‘naturally’ and focus more on gaining knowledge in medicine. In the middle Ages, people had still not stopped believing in gods and goddesses and so they thought that the Black Death was due to bad actions or sins.
People also thought that they caught illnesses and diseases if their humours were out of balance. To protect themselves, they carried out candles so that the evil will not get to them. However, they also believed that miasma was to be blamed for the cause of disease. Miasma is when the corrupted air from swamps or dirty water enters your body. During the Renaissance, people thought that God sent messages through plants and nature. For example, a plant may resemble a part of your body meaning that if you used that part of the plant, it would cure that part of the body.
Also, two of the four main people in this period; Pare and Paracelsus were religious which means that their work may not be correct. On the other hand, they did correct old incorrect ideas so that people would understand more about medicine. Dissection also became more common and people were more familiar to body parts than they were before. Overall, I think that the main approach to medicine in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was supernatural approaches. There were a lot of natural ideas but I think that more people were beginning to think supernaturally and were not that interested in knowledge.
Although there was a significant amount of knowledge gained in the Renaissance, it still was not that much. To conclude, I think that both supernatural and natural approaches were evident throughout the periods and they were both linked to the gaining of knowledge in medicine. Natural approaches were growing in importance and people were beginning to realise the role of medicine. However, by 1700, the medical world was still no closerr to discovering the true causes of disease. People were still influenced by supernatural or religious ideas.