EARLY MUSLIM MEDICINE

Click here to return to HOME page.
This post is in category MEDICINE

<><><> start of synopsis ><><><><><>
The 7th century Byzantine Empire physician Paul of Aegina copied a Hindu medical encyclopedia Sushruta Samhita procedure of using the blunt end of a couching needle to push cataracts away from the front of the eye.
In tenth century Iraq, Ammar bin Ali Al Mawsili read about the suction method of cataract removal invented by the 2nd century Greek physician named Antyllus.

Muslims copied procedures such as the use of opium as an anaesthetic from the Byzantines.

Muslims invented procedures such as the use of amulets to cure diseases, and interpreted dreams to predict the future.
Al-Kindi’s incense cure for asthma made the condition worse.

<><><> end of synopsis ><><><><><>

800px-cataract_in_human_eye

human eye with a cataract
CATARACTS
The 7th century Byzantine Empire physician Paul of Aegina copied a Hindu medical encyclopedia Sushruta Samhita procedure of using the blunt end of a couching needle to push cataracts away from the front of the eye.
In tenth century Iraq, Ammar bin Ali Al Mawsili learned about the suction method of cataract removal invented by the 2nd century Greek physician named Antyllus.
Mawsili had to invent his own metal tube with a syringe suction plunger because Antyllus had not described his suction device in detail.
This method of suction removal of cataracts was used in Asia but never spread to medieval Europe.
The source of most of this informstion about cataract surgery is  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441032/  

Much of this information about Muslim treatment of eye diseases comes from http://books.google.com/books?id=t_5pzrF1QocC&pg=PA155&lpg=PA153&ots=1lv7o9T6Mu&focus=viewport&dq=suction+needle+history&output=html_text

COPYING FROM GREEKS AND PAGANS
Muslim surgeons copied the procedure of Aulus Cornelius Celsus of the 1st century Roman Empire of treating drooping eyelid by cutting away a portion of the eyelid, but this entailed a risk of acquiring an infection.
Muslim physicians copied from Dioscorides, a Christian first century army surgeon in the eastern part of the Roman Empire that later became the Byzantine Empire. Dioscorides had written books on medicine including over 500 botanicals, and including sleeping potions of opium for use as an anesthetic during surgery.
Romans had used opium as an anesthetic during dental surgery. http://en.dentista-italiano-a-londra.co.uk/blog/useful-information/the-history-of-dentistry-pt-3-ancient-rome-and-the-unhappy-medieval-times.html
Around the year 160, Galen of Pergamon (a Greek living in the Roman Empire) wrote medical books, including material on drugs prepared from plants and animals, anatomy, inflammation and fever.
Pre-Islamic Persia became a world leader in medicine, as a result of Nestorian Christians fleeing religious persecution in the Byzantine Empire, and taking with them the medicine of Galen of Pergamon.
In 622 the prophet Mohammed permitted Al-Shifa bint Abdullah to continue being a traditional folk healer “doctor” after she followed Mohammed to Medina.
Mohammed’s personal physician was trained in the medicine of Galen of Pergamon at a school in Persia founded by Nestorian Christians.
Rufayda al-Aslamiyyah (620 – ?), the daughter of a military surgeon (amputations?), gave liquids (painkillers?), food, physical comfort and emotional support to wounded soldiers, and taught other women to do the same. This was unusual because Arab culture usually did not permit contact between women and men who were not their relatives.

Paul of Aegina was a 7th century Byzantine Empire physician who wrote a 7 volume medical encyclopedia, 2 volumes of which were on surgery. His encyclopedia mentioned treating drooping eyelid by sewing it to keep the eyelid always open. An alternative innovation by Muslims was to wear a small wooden clamp on part of the eyelid until the skin died and fell off. These procedures posed less risk of infection than surgery.
In the 8th century, the entire Hindu medical encyclopedia Sushruta Samhita was translated into Arabic.

In the late 8th century and early 9th century, the Syrian Muslim scholar Abu Yahya Ibn al-Batriq translated from Greek into Arabic some works of Galen of Pergamon and Hippocrates.

Al-Khwarizmi (780 – 850) wrote a book about the magical healing power of amulets, and a book (borrowing from Galen of Pergamon) about performing bloodletting to cure imbalances of the humors.

Johannitius (Hunayn ibn Ishaq) (809 – 873) was not a Muslim, but a Nestorian Christian appointed chief physician to Caliph al-Mutawakkil in Baghdad. Johannitius traveled to Syria and Egypt to gather Greek texts. which he and his students translated into Syriac and Arabic.
Johannitius also wrote his own book on treatment of eye diseases, largely borrowing from Galen of Pergamon. Johannitius explained the eye and its anatomy in minute detail,  as well as symptoms and treatments of diseases of the eye. He discussed cysts, tumors and swelling. He explained using surgery to remove corneal ulcers.
Johannitius mistakenly thought the entire eyeball was a lens. He did not know the function of the retina.
All Muslim physicians of the Islamic Golden Age copied from Galen of Pergamon or from Johannitius this false explanation of how the eye worked.
Al-Kindi (801-873) read Arabic translations of the Sushruta Samhita and of medical books written by Sabians (Syriac-speaking star-worshipers probably descended from Jewish tribes of Babylon who mixed Judaism with pagan beliefs), and Mandaeists (pre-Arab Semites who venerated Enos and John the Baptist but rejected Moses and Jesus).
Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari  (839 – 923) probably was a convert from Christianity.  He wrote an encyclopedia of medicine, borrowing from Syriac translations of medical encyclopedias written by Hippocrates, Galen of Pergamon, Pedanius Dioscorides (an army physician in the eastern part of the Roman Empire that later became the Byzantine Empire), and the Indian medical encyclopedia “Sushruta Samhita”.
His writings about child development and pediatrics borrowed from Galen of Pergamon and Hippocrates. Al-Tabari’s books were not translated into European languages until the 20th century.

10TH CENTURY MEDICAL BOOKS
Ibn al-Jazzar (895 – 979) wrote “The Viaticum”, a handbook of medicine that was a compilation of medical books probably written by al-Razi and others.
It later was translated into Latin and became popular in Europe.  
‘Ari ibn Sa‘id of Córdoba (912 – ?) wrote about childhood diseases.
Abul Hasan al-Tabari [not the same person as Muhammad al-Tabari] was the author of the mid 10th century medical encyclopedia “Kitab al-mu’alaja al-buqratiya” (Hippocratic treatments), in ten volumes. I assume it mostly borrowed from Greek medical books. It has never been translated from Arabic into any other language.
Ali Ibn Ia al-Kahhal, of 10th century Baghdad, wrote a book about treating of eye diseases that would later become a very important medical book in Europe.

WAS AL-MAJUSI A MUSLIM?
The late 10th century Persian physician ‘Ali ibn al-‘Abbas al-Majusi (Haly Abbas) likely had Zoroastrian grandparents because the word “Majusi” originally meant meant a Zoroastrian priest.
He wrote “Complete Book of the Medical Art” which neglects to mention Mohammed or the Quran, indicating he was not a devout Muslim.

SPINAL TRAUMA
Al-Majusi wrote about surgery to correct spinal trauma, but Greeks and Byzantines had done this centuries earlier.

EXERCISE, SLEEP AND HEALTHY DIET
Like Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), Al-Majusi wrote about the relationship between physical health and mental health, borrowing some of the ideas of Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi (850 – 934).
Al-Majusi wrote that to stay healthy, people should get exercise and enough sleep. [Non-Muslims before him had written about healthy diet.]

HIPPOCRATIC OATH
Al-Majusi copied from Hippocrates that a physician should not do anything that might harm a patient.

BLOOD CIRCULATION
Al-Majusi theorized (before ibn al-Nafis discovered blood circulation) that tiny passages in the lungs carried blood from the pulmonary artery to the pulmonary vein.

AFRICAN SLEEPING SICKNESS
Al-Majusi was the first physician to write about the symptoms of African sleeping sickness.  

CONTRACTIONS
Al-Majusi’s contribution to obstetrics was that he is said to have “proved” that the baby does not fall out but is pushed out.

HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL SCHOOL
Hospitals with separate wards for different categories of diseases and teaching centers  had been in use in the Byzantine Empire since the 4th century, built by Saint Sampson and by Basil, bishop of Caesarea.
Jundishapur medical university and hospital [which was founded around the year 530 in pre-Islamic Persia by Nestorian Christians fleeing religious persecution by Orthodox Christians in the Byzantine Empire].  Jundishapur taught mostly the medicine of Galen of Pergamon, but also included drugs of India.
Muslims borrowed their concept of a hospital from the Byzantine Empire. Muslim hospitals had separate wards for different categories of diseases, teaching centers and Muslim, Christian, Jewish and non-believing physicians.
The 9th century Ibn Tulun hospital provided free hospital care for anyone who needed it, but the Byzantines had free hospitals before the Muslims did.
The first insane asylum to treat the insane with kindness was built in 872 by Ahmad ibn Tulun.
Around the year 800, during the reign of Harun al-Rashid, Baghdad’s first hospital was founded by recruiting from Persia some physicians from Jundishapur medical university and hospital

PSYCHIATRY
Ibn Sirin (654 – 728) preached about how to interpret dreams to predict the future. http://www.firdaous.com/en/0064.htm He was not a psychiatrist but a soothsayer in the tradition of the ancient Babylonian fertility and prophecy goddess Nanche, who could predict the future by interpreting dreams.
Al-Khwarizmi (780 – 850) wrote about the use of music to soothe people.
The source of the claim of Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari  (839 – 923)  being a psychiatrist is that he wrote that patients frequently feel sick due to delusions or imagination, and that these can be treated through counseling by smart and witty physicians who could win the rapport and confidence of their patients.
Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi  (850 – 934) credited Quran verse 2:10 “In their hearts is a disease.” for inspiring him to discover the interaction between mind and body.
He classified neurosis into 4 categories: 1. fear and anxiety, 2. anger and aggression, 3. sadness and depression, and 4. obsession. He wrote that depression (if not caused by a disease of the body) can be treated by persuasive preaching (to “snap out of it” ?) and advising patients to have happy thoughts.
If the patient loses much of his cognitive and comprehensive ability, and fails to enjoy life, then the depression may be caused by an imbalance of the 4 humors, and can be treated by bloodletting.
He wrote that psychosomatic disorders are caused by interactions between physical disorders and disease of the soul. He wrote about post traumatic stress disorder and how disease of the soul can cause physical disease.
Al-Farabi (872 – 950) wrote about the need for people to have social contact with others.
Al-Farabi wrote that dreams can be about your fears or can predict the future because they are visions of future events.
[Galen of Pergamon had used the patient’s dreams to diagnose diseases.]

CONSCIOUSNESS
Al-Farabi wrote something about consciousness, but Greek philosophers had centuries earlier written about consciousness.

MEDICAL REVIEW
Al-Rahwi (854 – 931) wrote in his book “The Ethics of the Physician” that every physician should keep an extra copy of his patient visit notes, to permit a local medical council to review the quality of care the patient received.

ASTHMA AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
The claim is made by Muslim websites that al-Kindi (801-873) was a “pioneer of environmental science”. The origin of this claim is that al-Kindi incorrectly thought that burning incense was a treatment for asthma caused by inhaling soot from indoor lamps. Actually, the fine particles given off by burning incense make asthma worse.
Image by Rakesh Ahuja, MD, via Wikimedia Commons.
image credit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cataract_in_human_eye.png

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s