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Medicine

Marble statue of Asclephius on a pedestal, symbol of medicine in Western medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has existed for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture, for example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine, they remain commonly used with or instead of scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine. For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner; in contrast, treatments outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. Read more...

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Al-Risalah al-Dhahabiah.JPG

Al-Risalah al-Dhahabiah (Arabic: الرسالة الذهبیة‎ , Arabic pronunciation: ['rɪsælætæ 'ðæhæ'biæ]; "The Golden Treatise") is a medical dissertation on health and remedies attributed to Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (765–818), the eighth Imam of Shia. He wrote this dissertation in accordance with the demand of Ma'mun, the caliph of the time, it is revered as the most precious Islamic literature in the science of medicine, and was entitled "the golden treatise" as Ma'mun had ordered it written in gold ink. Chain of narrators is said to reach Muhammad ibn Jumhoor or al-Hassan ibn Muhammad al-Nawfali who is described as "highly esteemed and trustworthy" by al-Najjashi.

The treatise of Ali al-Ridha includes scientific branches such as Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry and Pathology when medical science was still primitive. According to the treatise, one's health is determined by four humors of blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm, the suitable proportion of which maintains the health. The liver plays an important role in producing and maintaining the required proportions in the body. Ali al-Ridha describes the body as a kingdom whose king is the heart while the (blood) vessels, the limbs, and the brain are the laborers. (More...)

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TuberousSclerosis-Rayer-ColourSmall.jpg
The earliest illustration of tuberous sclerosis, with clusters of facial angiofibromas, displayed in Rayer's colour atlas of skin diseases published in 1835: "Traité des maladies de la peau".

Photo credit: Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de Médecine - http://www.bium.univ-paris5.fr/histmed/medica/page?00584&p=82

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