Greek medicine:

Hippocrates

(approx. 460 - 375 BC)

On the Sacred Disease

Hippocrates (approx. 460 - 377 BC)It is thus with regard to the disease called sacred: it appears to me to be in no way more divine nor more sacred than other diseases...

The brain is the cause of this affliction...

When the [surplus] phlegm [from the brain] runs down through the veins, the patient loses his speech and foams at the mouth, his hands are contracted, the eyes contorted, he becomes insensible, and in some cases the bowels are emptied...

The patient kicks with his feet ... The patient must endure all these symptoms when the cold phlegm flows into the warm blood.


Correct statements:

  • Epilepsy is a natural disease, not a "sacred" one.
  • Seizures originate in the brain.

Incorrect statement:

  • Epileptic activity is caused by surplus phlegm - Hippocrates' humoral theory. (Correct : Epileptic activity is caused by a disturbance of the electro-chemical excitatory processes in the brain).

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