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History of medicine featured on Nat Geo’s Origins: The Journey of Humankind

Origins: The Journey of Humankind
Origins examines how our understanding of the human body has contributed to our success

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.

Galen was a Greek physician who moved to Rome and had a scientific approach to medicine
Galen was a Greek physician who moved to Rome and had a scientific approach to medicine

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.

Surgical instruments found in Pompei
A series of surgical instruments which were found in Pompeii

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.

Artificial limb technology is becoming ever more sophisticated
Artificial hand and limb technology is becoming ever more sophisticated

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.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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