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Chapter 3 : Avicenna, a Thousand Years Ahead of His Time

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Abstract:

The critical importance of translation of medical texts from a variety of cultures, but notably ancient Greek, led to the emergence of medieval Islamic medicine. Also, the system for delivering medical care and training doctors took on a new and distinctive quality. The first comprehensive medical reference, the , was written, which was the culmination of medical thought to date. In Isfahan, Avicenna completed two major works, the and the . Avicenna wrote many medical texts, but the stands alone. Even though the is largely an extension of Greco-Roman medical thought, the book contains Avicenna's remarkably insightful observations, such as his recommendations for dealing with malignancy. Avicenna gave medicine its first codified lessons on evidence-based clinical trials when he listed principles for reliable experimental investigations of drugs in humans. The provides additional food for thought for infectious disease practice. It distinguishes mediastinitis from pleurisy, describes the contagious nature of sexual diseases, and proposes the use of quarantine to limit the spread of phthisis (an archaic term for tuberculosis). One outbreak became synonymous with disease in the Middle Ages in Western Europe: bubonic plague. The contradictory advice that physicians offered during outbreaks of the plague was indicative of the chaotic medical thinking of the age. Avicenna wrote extensively about the interplay between the mind and body in the . The contains the most extraordinary supposition about the contagious nature of phthisis.

Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Avicenna, a Thousand Years Ahead of His Time, p 31-43. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch3

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Bubonic Plague
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Yersinia pestis
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Infectious Diseases
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Clinical Trials
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Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Avicenna, a Thousand Years Ahead of His Time, p 31-43. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch3
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Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Avicenna, a Thousand Years Ahead of His Time, p 31-43. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch3
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Avicenna. G. P. Busch sculpture. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine. 10.1128/9781555817220.ch3.f1

Citation: Gaynes R. 2011. Avicenna, a Thousand Years Ahead of His Time, p 31-43. In Germ Theory. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817220.ch3
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References

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1. Afnan, S. 1958. Avicenna: His Life and Works, p. 5782. George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, United Kingdom.
2. Gruner, O. C. 1930. A Treatise on the Canon of Medicine of Avicenna Incorporating a Translation of the First Book. Luzac and Co., London, United Kingdom.
3. Magner, L. N. 2005. The History of Medicine, p. 135195. Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL.
4. Osler, W. The Evolution of Modern Medicine, p. 84126. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
5. Pope, A. U. 1955. Avicenna and his cultural background. Bull. N. Y. Acad. Med. 31:318333.
6. Pormann, P. E., and, E. Savage-Smith. 2007. Medieval Islamic Medicine, p. 641. Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC.
7. Sarton, G. 1927. Introduction to the History of Science, vol. I. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, MD.
8. Smith, R. D. 1980. Avicenna and the Canon of Medicine: a millennial tribute. West. J. Med. 133:367370.
9. Wickens, G. M. (ed.). 1952. Avicenna: Scientist and Philosopher. Luzac & Company, Ltd., London, United Kingdom.

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