The timeless influence of Hippocratic ideas on diet, salicylates and personalized medicine

Tom C. Karagiannis

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11 Citations (Scopus)


At a time when superstition and deities were thought to be responsible for health and disease, Hippocrates of Kos emerged as a rational thinker assigning disease to natural causes. His insights, which principally arose from what may be considered almost compulsive examination and comparison, formed the basis of Hippocratic Medicine. There are still unresolved questions regarding the authenticity of the approximately 70 works shaping the Hippocratic Corpus. Assigning authorship precisely presents difficulties and given that the various treatises in the collection appear to span a period of between 100 and 300 years, it is clear that they may not be ascribed to a single author. Ancient commentaries, including translation and annotation by the Hellenic physician Galen and more recently by Émile Littré have helped preserve and structure our knowledge of Hippocratic ideals. Further, a large school of contemporary scholars are constantly refining our understanding. Despite the controversies and uncertainties, the underlying themes of Hippocrates' influence on medicine which involve meticulous observation, comparison, prognosis and prediction are evident. Importantly, the Hippocratic Oath remains a masterpiece of medical morals and ethics, analogous forms of which are still used today. Indeed, the Hippocratic Corpus teaches timeless concepts which do not only relate to medical thought and methodology but also to the more gentle aspects of the art. In this essay Hippocratic observations are considered in relation to three important matters preoccupying modern medicine: a) nutrition, b) drug development and c) personalized medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-6
Number of pages5
JournalHellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

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