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The Wisdom Of Hippocrates

Hippocrates of Kos was a Greek physician who lived from about 460 B.C. to 375 B.C. At a time when most people attributed sickness to superstition and the wrath of the gods, Hippocrates taught that all forms of illness had a natural cause. He established the first school devoted to teaching the practice of medicine. For this, he is widely known as the “father of medicine.”

Perhaps Hippocrates is best known for his “Oath” that every new physician is supposed to take prior to practicing medicine.  Contrary to popular belief, taking this “oath” is not a formal part of the medical school curriculum.  Here is an excerpt of the Hippocratic Oath:

 “I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.”

Additionally, here is a quote attributed to Hippocrates:

“The greatest medicine of all is teaching people how not to need it.”

This guy lived in the BC era and yet his insights are incredibly timely and pertinent to the present day.  First, analyzing the quote:  Clearly, Hippocrates was imploring doctors to help people live lifestyles that would help them avoid the need of medications.  Back in Hippocrates days there were no television commercials with slick Madison Avenue created ads that touted the benefits of prescription medications costing fortunes of $$$.  We have all seen these ads that basically spend ¾ of the time detailing the list of potentially dangerous side effects that accompany the use of these meds.  Although Hippocrates didn’t live long enough to see the major advances in pharmaceuticals, he still believed that the best “medicine” was living lifestyles that allowed for the avoidance of medications.

Now, onto the excerpt from the Hippocratic Oath: Concerning the “dietary regimens” he was referring to, I know that during my time in medical school and residency all of the training was about diagnosing and treating disease states.  There was not one minute spent on teaching nutrition or preventative medicine.  I do not believe the current medical school/residency training offers much more even currently.

We in the medical field as well as people availing themselves of medical care should all take a step back and embrace the words of Hippocrates.  The healthier lifestyles we lead and the less medications required will translate into healthier and happier lives.  By the way, the guy lived for about 85 years, which is almost 10 years longer than the current average life span for a male now.

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