Saturday, 16 February 2013

Gratitude Day 16: Medicine

I'm feeling a bit under the weather - I've finally succumbed to that bug that's been doing the rounds. I'm dosed up on extra strength cold and flu at the moment and eating throat sweets as if there's no tomorrow. So this is probably a good time to be grateful to all the wonderful scientists, doctors and innovators who developed medications and vaccines.

There has bee recorded evidence of diagnosis and treatment of up to 200 diseases by the Egyptians in 2600 BCE. It wasn't that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that people were dying of flu - there used to be waves of deadly outbreaks where hundreds and in some cases thousands of people would die. (The flu vaccine was developed in 1945.)  It puts my sniffles and sneezing in perspective, that's for sure.

I not only appreciate the medicines themselves, but also surgical techniques and the discovery of anesthetics (which were refined in about the 1850s) without which many peoples lives would have been much more painful and possibly much shorter. (Though, having surgeons wash their hands in between patients would have saved a lot of pain and infections after surgery, and that came into fashion surprisingly late). Even the discovery of vitamins and minerals and their effects on the body has been fairly recent: in 1912 was the first discovery of a vitamin - the isolation of thiamine (B1) by Casimir Funk. It was only in 1939 that John Crandon did experiments on himself by depriving himself of Vitamin C for a long time and discovered a lot about what that does in the body. Thank goodness for all that research - it is helping me clear up my cold (in a pretty easy, relatively pain free manner, I might add).

All in all, a big thank you to all those people round the world who have worked and are continuing to work on helping make disease and sickness manageable. Well done chaps, I salute you!

It must be noted that quite a lot of the information used here is from 'At Home: a Short History of Private Life' by Bill Bryson - which is a fascinating read.


  1. Indeed I thank my stars for medicine!I don't know what I could 've done without them...

    1. I know! It blows my mind a little bit when I start thinking of how many people put effort into saving our lives or making them less painful... amazing.