In the Renaissance, some aspects of medicine and doctors were still in a Dark Age. Outbreaks of disease were common, doctors were poor, medicine was primitive and many times doctors would kill a patient with a severe treatment for a minor disease! But, there were other sections where medicine and the use of medications improved greatly. This paper is written to illustrate the “light and dark” sides of medicine in the Renaissance. The filth of the cities promoted the spread of disease faster than doctors could discover a cure.
This encouraged large outbreaks of many deadly diseases. And it is said that throughout this period there were people who went about the cities and towns with wagons calling “Bring out your dead!” in a fashion similar to that of the Medieval era during the bubonic plague (Which, by the way, was not yet a dead disease).
The quality of doctors during the Renaissance was a small step up from the Medieval era. There were a few medical schools that had started and doctors were beginning to have the option of a formal education. The only problem was that people didn’t need a license to be a doctor.
Many “quacks” practiced medicine. And doctors had no specialization; there were no dentists, no surgeons, and no physicians. So a doctor may have not known anything about one of those areas but still attempted to treat it. If a patient came in to a doctor complaining of pain the doctor would have no idea what that meant or why it was painful. You must remember in the Renaissance, the church ruled everything. The church thought that if someone was ailing it was because of a demon in them or God punishing them.
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The people of the Renaissance were also very superstitious. They believed in magic and thought that some of the herbs used in medicine had magical healing powers. There were several aspects of the Renaissance where medicine improved greatly. Doctors bega to study medicine from a scientific standpoint and artists like Leonardo Da Vinci actually dissected human corpses to see what they looked like inside the body. This cleared up much of the previous misconceptions about the internal organs.
The treatments in the Renaissance improved at a steady rate throughout the period. Because, during the Renaissance doctors would work on site at the battlefield and would learn from their experiences. In fact, a very famous Renaissance doctor named Ambrose Pare discovered a better treatment for a gunshot wound. Previously they had been treated with boiling elder oil turning pain to agony. But when he ran out of elder oil he made a slave of egg yolk, attar roses and turpentine. The next morning he discovered the ones treated with the elder oil were still in great pain and the ones treated with his new mixtures were greatly comforted.
Many of the doctors made “cures” for diseases out of almost anything. One example is they thought that swallowing gold cured almost everything! Some of these treatments worked, others did not. But doctors kept experimenting. So overall there was progress made and the Renaissance made some important discoveries regarding medicine that helped launch us in to the next period of history.