Medicine is all about making new breakthroughs, perfecting theories and of course, practicing medicine. For this reason the field of medicine is constantly evolving, but did you wouldn’t believe some of the things that led to the modern medicine that’s practiced today. The following are some medical discoveries that will simply blow your mind.
Dr. Thomas Willis was an English physician who was the first to discover that a diabetic’s urine tastes sweet, as in, as sweet as honey. That’s right, Willis found that out by actually taking a sip of the urine of his patients. While this medical discover is one of the off putting ones, it paved the way for others doctors in understanding diabetes. And we’re sure they all thank the medical chemist for not having to do the tasting themselves. Dr. Willis was the one who coined the medical term ‘Diabetes mellitus”. ‘Mellitus’ being the Latin word for honey. He was also the first to discover the association between diabetes and depression.
Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec
Laennec who is considered to be the father of clinical auscultation got the idea by observing two children playing in a courtyard. He noted that the children were sending signals to each other by using a long piece of wood and a pin. The physician desired to listen so his patient’s heartbeat and lungs, which is why he spent the next three years perfecting the design, which was a hollow tube of wood that would one day be the forerunner to the modern day stethoscope. Because of this breakthrough invention, Laennec was the first to write about pulmonary conditions, cirrhosis, and bronchiestasis which he published in a book called De L’auscultation Mediate.
Barber / Surgeons
There was a time that you could get a haircut before getting your tonsils taken out. That’s because in medieval Europe, certain medical treatments such as, tooth extractions, enemas, amputations and bloodletting were performed by the same people who gave you a shave and a haircut. A fun fact here is that the popular red and white pole that is still used by barbershops actually symbolizes the white napkins and blood soaked bandages. Barbers were also the first to see the insides of a human being, because the two professions were merged by Henry the VIII in 1540 as the United Barber-Surgeons Company. This decision was retracted in 1745 when King George II separated the two fields when he established the London College of Surgeons, which at this point, required a surgeon to get a professional degree in order to carry out surgeries.
Dr. Joseph Bell
Bell, who lectured at the medical university of Edinburgh, Scotland stressed the importance of observation in medical treatment. He believed that the close examination of a patient could reveal their ailments without them having to say a word, rather than making a diagnosis based on symptoms. One famous example of his studies in observation was that he once introduced his students to a liquid compound and notified them of its terrible taste. He then dipped his finger in the compound and liked it, and then asked his students to do the same. They of course, complied and were disgusted by the terrible taste. Dr. Bell then informed them that the finger he had licked was not the same one that he had dipped in the solution, a simple observation that his students failed to observe.
Bell had an uncanny ability and had made a reputation for never being wrong in his observational style diagnosis. In fact, he became somewhat of a legend at the university and his skills were later on utilized by detectives to solve crimes and create profiles of criminals. He also worked on the Jack the Ripper case, but was not successful in catching the infamous killer. However, Dr. Bell did become the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. He also laid the foundations of forensic science.