This week on Origins: The Journey of Humankind, the documentary series hosted by Jason Silva examines how medicine has shaped human development.
Early man and even our cousins the Neanderthals had a rudimentary understanding of medicinal plants and methods of helping set broken bones or fighting infection.
However, it was not really until civilisation started to develop that medicine began to move on.
With the classical world seeing great advances in surgery and other treatments, physicians like the Greek Galen carried out methodical research and documented their findings so well that they were used by doctors hundreds of years later.
But they still did not understand the world of the unseen and indeed you could argue that after the collapse of Rome medical progress slowed considerably with the cures prescribed by doctors often worse than the condition itself.
Then in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spurred by the industrial revolution and industrial scale wars, medicine began to advance in leaps and bounds.
In the last 100 years things have changed more than in the previous 1,000 with the discovery of DNA and a multitude of remarkable advances.
Now we are at the cusp of being able to manipulate genes and DNA to such an extent that science fiction is becoming reality.
Watch Origins: The Journey of Humankind airs Mondays at 9/8c on National Geographic Channel.
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