Islamic Influence in Western Medicine

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Just as the Arabs preserved the knowledge of the Greek and Roman civilizations, the Europeans were able to use and build off the knowledge built in the Islamic world. This wealth of knowledge was the collection of ideas pulled from every corner of the Islamic empire. Rulers collected Greek, Chinese, Indian, and Persian literary works in vast libraries for the education of the masses. Western Europe slowly learned bits and pieces of this knowledge through trade and diffusion of culture. One medium through which the west learned a great deal was the translated medical texts from scholars such as Ib n Sina (Avicenna). Europeans, from Italy to the British Isles, were able to improve their medical and scientific knowledge by learning to quantify and make careful observations about the natural world. Through this gain of knowledge, Europe transformed slowly into a continent with the most advanced methods for providing and distributing medical aid. It was largely not until Europeans pushed the Muslims out of Europe that the Europeans learned about the advances of Muslim scholars had made. By gathering texts and conquering lands, Western European scholars’ pieced together knowledge about hospitals, staving off disease, and how science should be conducted through observation not superstition ushering a new age in the progression of the practice of medicine.

Surgical techniques in medieval Europe most often consisted of the amputation of limbs and bloodletting as a means of curing disease. These simple yet dangerous techniques had unpredictable outcomes. Infection was the biggest problem for surgeons so to get around this they used cauterization of the wounds. Avicenna promoted this in his canon of medicine, which set precedence in Weste...

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...scholarly sources to educate themselves and began to unearth new ways to treat disease. Once Muslims fled Europe they left knowledge of great medical thinkers, concepts of hospitals, how doctors should be educated, and how disease should be treated and prevented.

Works Cited

1) Masic, Izet, et al. "Why historians of medicine called Ibn al-Nafis second Avicenna?." Medicinski Arhiv 62.4 (2008): 244-249. MEDLINE. EBSCO. Web. 31 Jan. 2010.

2) Selin, Helaine, 1946-, and Hugh Shapiro. Medicine across cultures : history and practice of medicine in non-Western cultures. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. Book Index with Reviews. EBSCO. Web. 31 Jan. 2010.

3) Loudon, Irvine. Western medicine an illustrated history. Oxford University Press, 1997. 40-66.

4) Prioreschi, Plinio. A History of Medicine: Byzantine and Islamic medicine. Omaha: Horatius. Press, 2001. 204-270.
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