Medicine and pharmacologyThe book is known for its description of contagious diseases and sexually transmitted diseases, quarantine to limit the spread of infectious diseases, and testing of medicines. Ibn Sīnā adopted, from the Greeks, the theory that epidemics are caused by pollution in the air (miasma). It classifies and describes diseases, and outlines their assumed causes. Hygiene, simple and complex medicines, and functions of parts of the body are also covered. The Canon agrees with Aristotle (and disagrees with Hippocrates) that tuberculosis was contagious, a fact which was not universally accepted in Europe until centuries later. It also describes the symptoms and complications of diabetes. Both forms of facial paralysis were described in-depth. The Canon of Medicine discussed how to effectively test new medicines: • The drug must be free from any extraneous accidental quality. • It must be used on a simple, not a composite, disease.
• The drug must be tested with two contrary types of diseases, because sometimes a drug cures one disease by Its essential qualities and another by its accidental ones. • The quality of the drug must correspond to the strength of the disease. For example, there are some drugs whose heat is less than the coldness of certain diseases, so that they would have no effect on them. • The time of action must be observed, so that essence and accident are not confused. • The effect of the drug must be seen to occur constantly or in many cases, for if this did not happen, it was an accidental effect. • The experimentation must be done with the human body, for testing a drug on a lion or a horse might not prove anything about its effect on man. An Arabic edition of the Canon appeared at Rome in 1593, and a Hebrew version at Naples in 1491. Of the Latin version there were about thirty editions, founded on the original translation byGerard de Sabloneta. In the 15th century a commentary on the text of the Canon was composed. Other medical works translated into Latin are the Medicamenta Cordialia, Canticum de Medicina, and the Tractatus de Syrupo Acetoso. It was mainly accident which determined that from the 12th to the 18th century, Ibn Sīnā should be the guide of medical study in European universities, and eclipse the names of Rhazes, Ali ibn al-Abbas and Averroes. His work is not essentially different from that of his predecessor Rhazes, because he presented the doctrine of Galen, and through Galen the doctrine of Hippocrates, modified by the system of Aristotle. But the Canon of Ibn Sīnā is distinguished from the Al-Hawi(Continence) or Summary of Rhazes by its greater method, due perhaps to the logical studies of the former. The work has been variously appreciated in subsequent ages, some regarding it as a treasury of wisdom, and others, like Averroes, holding it useful only as waste paper. In modern times it has been mainly of historic interest as most of its tenets have been disproved or expanded upon by scientific medicine. The vice of the book is excessive classification of bodily faculties, and over-subtlety in the discrimination of diseases. It includes five books; of which the first and second discuss physiology, pathology and hygiene, the third and fourth deal with the methods of treating disease, and the fifth describes the composition and preparation of remedies. This last part contains some personal observations. He is ample in the enumeration of symptoms, and is said to be inferior in practical medicine and surgery. He introduced into medical theory the four causes of the Peripatetic system. Of natural history and botany he pretended to no special knowledge. Up to the year 1650, or thereabouts, the Canon was still used as a textbook in the universities of Leuven and Montpellier. In the museum at Bukhara, there are displays showing many of his writings, surgical instruments from the period and paintings of patients undergoing treatment. Ibn Sīnā was interested in the effect of...
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