Ibn Sina (Avicenna) Contributions to Medicine
- Pages: 7
- Word count: 1653
- Category: Medicine
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Medicine has its origin in oriental times which has seen it evolve to how it is known today. This has been made easier by technology which therefore shows that it is improvement on what used to be done in the ancient times. Perhaps it did not use to happen with the accurate precision that is associated with today’s diagnosis and procedures but the original concept behind it was probably conceived by someone who might not even be remembered by history for his or her contribution to medicine. Ibn Sina who in the Western world is known as Avicenna is one of such oriental who has been described as doctor of doctors and sometimes physician of physicians to show that he must have been a great scholar of his time but due some reasons, he is not so popular.
Like all great minds of his time, Ibn Sina had great knowledge on varying subjects like medicine, philosophy mathematics and astronomy. He was born in Afsana near Bukhara which is currently Usbekistan but his later life and death was in Persia or Iran as it is known today. In his lifetime, he impacted positively on peoples’ lives especially the poor since he offered his services free of charge to the disadvantaged in life around 780-1037 CE. Most of his inspiration was from another great philosopher Aristotle who influenced his major publications and specifically Kitab al- Shifa meaning the book of healing. A lot of contemporary work has been attributed to him by different sources which some claim that he did 21 major publications and 24 minor publications on different subjects (Al-Qifti).Other attribute 99 books to him and 66 of those publications have a direct bearing on medicine and science.
Ibn Sina contribution to medicine is diversified into the major areas that are important to health of people and health matters. His medical writings are a depiction of Greco-Arabian thoughts that were instrumental then in bringing sanity in the medical arena. Although most of his works has not been published, the Qanun is an important work that is regarded as a book with many subdivisions just like many Arabic publications in those times. It has five sections, with each dealing with a specific topic in medicine like drugs, medical procedures and some very specific descriptions of organs that are found within the body. This Qanun is arguably one of the most valuable books of all times since it is an infusion of the known information about Christian and Muslim curative sciences on pathology (surgeon) and pharmacology.
His fame about his surgeon career was known far and wide. He particularly devoted most his time in treating patient during the day and did his study at night. He studied major topics in children’s health, gynecology and anatomy. The advancement of his in depth knowledge about surgery came about probably because he lived at times when there were a lot inter clan wars and territorial wars bent on establishing regional supremacy. He described some surgical procedures that were very unique and mostly involved bones which show that he used to perform them on injured men in the war. Tracheotomy was a particular skill that was associated with him and he also gave a very detailed description about it. Cranial anatomy was also intensely studied by him and he came up with the division of the brain into two parts. This he did in connection with some of the functions of the brain and how it works in conducting signals through cranial nerves with the aid of the spinal chord. Neurology was also among his well described subjects with descriptions of the major nerves of the body and how they interact with the heart to ensure that blood is circulated well within the body.
The description of drugs in his numerous pharmacopeias was quite detailed even to the point of giving how the drugs were to be prepared and the scope of ailments that it could cure. All this knowledge was derived from ethno botany, where after careful study of the plants that were found both in Christian world and Muslim world; he was able to come up with working drugs that were contemporary and not based on prior publications. These discoveries or inventions form the cornerstone of today’s drugs. Although it involves a lot of synergism, technology in the 21st century has borrowed largely on those works and studied each ingredient alone so that a proper understanding of the interdependency in the ingredients may be established. This has helped modern medicine in coming up with advanced medication that is specific for certain ailments as opposed to earlier medication that relied almost on trial and error method to treat all kinds of maladies. The descriptions of methodology on how to prepare the drugs has helped modern day scientists in determining the best way to extract the active ingredients since there are various methods like solvent extraction and organic extraction. In solvent extraction, it may be boiling or just dissolving of the raw materials to come up with the remedy.
His articulation of diseases is brought out by the detailed narration of the signs and symptoms of many ailments both communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Tuberculosis and meningitis are some of the diseases that were in existence then and today are still there presenting enormous challenges. In order to solve a problem, you definitely start at some point and Ibn description of some of these diseases helped in revolution of medicine and understanding exactly the underlying cause and the pathogens involved.
Philosophers’ contribution towards medicine has been enormous and certainly Ibn Sina has had his fare share of contribution which although it is magnanimously unacknowledged, has left almost unmatched and unprecedented achievements in the medical arena. The reason why he seems to be on the obscurity and not famous like most scholars of his times are may be due to the problem of language and culture. At the time of his prominence, the common language of communication was Latin but most of his work was written in Arabic which made it hard for non Arabic people to study his work. Most of his work remained unpublished which reduced its credibility and also led to some manuscripts getting lost. Medicine as we know it today is as a result of dedication and devotion to studies by great men like Ibn Sina who unselfishly gave their best in developing formula for curative drugs and describing some diseases that are common all over the world. Unlike his fame, he has done a big contribution to medicine and he should be in the same category as other great men of his time.
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 Philip, Hitti. History of the Arabs, 10th ed, London: Macmillan, 1970. pp 367-368
 Plinio, Passtime. A History of Medicine: Byzantine and Islamic medicine. New York: Horatius press, 2001. pp 273
 Al- Qifti is another great Moslem scholar who hailed from Cairo and compiled much of the work done by Ibn Sina.
 Philip, Hitti. History of the Arabs, 10th ed, London: Macmillan, 1970. pp 367-368
 A form of medicine that was practiced around the time Ibn lived.
 Edward, Browne. Arabian Medicine. London, Cambridge: University Press, 1921.
 This is the English equivalence of canon which was describing a large collection documents in one folder.
 Viole, O’Neill 1973 in Mcgraw-Hill Encyclopaedia of World Biography vol I: Aalto to Bizet.
 A surgical jargon used to refer to the insertion of a tube into the trachea to allow the passage of air to breathe.
 Paul, C. Bulletin of the history of medicine. London: Macmillan 1978.
 Some writings in the medieval era that were not published and contained information about drugs or curative formula
 The phytochemistry potency of drugs is derived from a combination of active constituents from different sources.
 William, Holl, Neville Wood., & Edward Mammatt. The Analyst: A Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature, Natural History. London: Oxford university press, 1839.
 M.A. Martin. The Genius of Arab Civilisation, 2nd Ed, Edited by J.R. Hayes, London: Eurabia Puplishing, 1983 pp 196-7