Spongia somnifera. Medieval milestones
on the way to general and local anesthesia
Institut fur Geschichte der Medizin,
Anaesthesist. 1989 Dec;38(12):643-8.
ABSTRACTMedieval medicine was highly innovative compared to ancient and early modern medicine. The achievements then did not merely comprise new models from the viewpoint of the history of science: development of the university, a well-defined curricula and official degrees, obligatory fees and cost reducing measures. They also included therapeutic procedures like nerve suture, antisepsis, chemotherapy (colchicine), cardiac glycosides (scillaren, convallerin), the development of visual aids (binoculars, magnifying glass, microscope, presbyopic glasses) and further improvement of plastic surgery by the application of delayed grafts (lips/nose plastic). Modern medicine at first rejected and forgot these techniques, which were not rediscovered until the 19th and 20th century. This holds true for the extirpation of abdominal tumors as well as for the concept of therapeutic fever. It also pertains to anesthesia, which in the Middle Ages was developed from ancient methods of sedation. Medieval scholars perfected the method into achieving the first total anesthesia (resorption/inhalation anesthesia) and then local anesthesia (application of morphine at the cornea).QEEG
'My beloved chloroform'
'The secularisation of pain'
Obstetric anaesthesia/John Snow
The spongia somnifera ('soporific sponge')
and further reading
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World