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By Snohomish Brown December 11, 2010 Final Term Paper Medical History
. This is one of the oldest known medical payri and dates back to 1550 BC. This research illustrates the wide variety of different substances used to disinfect and the history of their use. natron was a salt solution of soda ash and baking soda that was collected from dry alkaline lake beds in Egypt and other countries. it might be said that cleanliness is next to Godliness. alkali and cassia oil. their ideas of personal hygiene did too. but that is the earliest known record of any kind of recipes for it. It is also perhaps one of the most important for it contains the largest volume of ancient Egyptian medicine known with nearly 700 magical remedies and formulas. however. None of these formulas indicate that these materials were used for their detergent qualities.The history of disinfectant use may span back further in time than the discovery of microorganisms and bacteria. in terms of medical history there is some evidence of the uses of soap and other cleaning agents well before this discovery. soap making in the Western world may have been around before 2200 BC. According to popular legend. As more methods for maintaining health and hygiene became available. people seldom used disinfectants or anti-bacterial agents intentionally. Additionally. it was never exported as a product and so the information we have to determine whether or not this is true is scarce. Historically. Trade routes between different cultures eventually opened up new possibilities for the spread of diseases as well as new treatments for them. Medical practices have changed much over the course of human history and it comes as no surprise that as cultures developed separately. the choice of which disinfectant cleansing agent to use and for what purpose relied upon on several factors. however. A Babylonian clay tablet from that date records a recipe consisting of water. the purpose of this present writing is to bring into perspective how even modern day practices may yet prove to be controversial in terms of their absolute efficacy as the understanding of the microcosmic world continues to unfold. before it was well established that bacteria and micro-organisms spread infection. however. In present times. but in the beginning. The Egyptian Papyrus Ebers describes a treatment for enlarged glands as a result of purulence attack with a recipe for a balm which included heating natron and ox grease. The trade-off between the anti-bacterial strength and how corrosive any given product can be greatly determines how safely it may be used. its intended use was for washing stones and nothing more. In some parts of Asia we may hear rumors of soap being used in early civilizations.
Duke of Oleans who patented a solution in 1791. King Louis XVI and the French Academy of Sciences organized a contest to see who could solve the problem of obtaining alkali from sea salt. paper. Roman. His process eventually became known as the Leblanc process and yielded batches of . We do not see any evidence that it was used as it is today. Other early accounts for the use of antiseptics include would care instructions from a Sumerian tablet suggesting washing the wound in beer and hot water. alkaline salt solutions and herbs may have been used to clean the body. Besides urine and feces. The fact is that urine was so inexpensive and plentiful that it was generally used by most cultures especially for cleaning wool. In 1783. however the standard practice of cleaning linens involved using clay. The disinfectant properties of the ammonia found in boiled. these practices did not have a clear understanding of what we know today about microbiology and the spread of disease. It is possible that in early civilizations. Obviously. human or animal urine might have been better known to most sheep herders who washed their wool in urine and fresh pig feces. or called by anything that could be used to identify it until the writings of Pliny and Galen. scented water. decaying. There hardly any evidence to suggest the widespread use of soaps before the first millennium AD. It stands to reason that if soap making were common enough. Processes utilizing substances like soap were certainly used in many cultures including Egyptian.Although it could easily be said that the natural saponification process occurring from the ashes of certain wood lye mixed with melted fats from animals or plants produced a material that found its way into the water supply where Roman women washed their clothes. It was not until the costs associated with the production of soap were made considerably more affordable by the gradual industrialization of the textile producers of Europe that negative attitudes toward cleanliness began to change. although one of the results of the French revolution made this impossible. alkali which was important in making glass. and do the laundry. and Sumerian. Pliny first uses the word soap in his Naturalis Historia and describes it being used as pomade for hair dye and Galen describes two kinds of soap to be used for washing the human body and clothes. with poultices from wine dregs and lizard dung. Phoeneican. Owing to the extensive deforestation of most of Europe. until this point. The reward of 2400 livre should have gone to Nicolas Leblanc. physician to Lous Philip II. soap and textiles and had to be imported. or certain plant oils mixed with soda. perhaps this tale deserves a more discerning mind. then these other methods would not have been so readily employed. Greek.
Heironymous Fracastorus. wear clean garments and wrap wounds with clean bandages as well as spraying fresh-smelling vapours and generally keeping a clean environment for surgical procedures. By placing the center of a small rod of soda lime in a hot flame. it was common for European doctors not to wash their hands. He was able to unravel the nature of the saponification reaction and demonstrated how fatty acids and glycerol can be made into esters. Medical practices in India were considerably more advanced it seems. clean their nails before operating. especially within the more northern temperate zones where temperatures were often much colder. the better they were able to magnify. however. and shared his observations freely with groups such as the . Van Leeuwenhoek used samples of his own saliva took measurements to estimate the numbers of microorganisms per units of water. These spheres made excellent lenses and the smaller they were. These two discoveries revolutionized the soap making industry and the popularity of French soaps boomed as inexpensive methods to produce high quality soaps were soon easily implemented. his hypothesis was later found to be correct. He explored a broad range of microscopic phenomena. His curiosity and experimentation with glass processing led him to make one of the most astonishing discoveries in medicine. His thoughts on the subject led him to postulate the existence of germs. with the ability to multiply inside an organism and infect others via the breath or other forms of physical contact. thanks to his work entitled: “Hieronymi Fracastorii Syphilidis sive de morbo gallico”. On the other hand. he researched what we now recognize as Syphilis. Having studied in Padua. Leeuwenhoek made good use of the huge lead provided by his method of lens making. It is not known. the father of lipid chemistry. since as early as 500 BC.black caustic soda from sea salt heated with Sulfuric acid. Van Leeuwenhoek was able to pull the hot middle section apart and form a tiny glass sphere on one end of the rod by placing it back into the flame. Although no evidence during his life was produced to verify his claims. The principles of Hindu Dhanvantri medicine as described by Shusruta admonished surgeons to wash their hands. Chevreul’s fame as a lipid chemist peaked in 1823 when he published his research on animal fats. A Dutchman by the name of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek developed an interest in microscopes that were being used for making textiles at the time. This process was further enhanced by Michel Chvreul. also known as Girolamo Fracastoro published a book in 1546 that may have lead to the discovery of bacteria. if he understood the importance of these practices. of which most oils and fats we are familiar with are composed.
which initially were received with much skepticism since previously. His work was never accepted in his lifetime. the existence of single-celled organisms which he termed “animalcules” was entirely unknown. failed to convince his fellow doctors and led to tragic conclusions. Ignaz Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician who first demonstrated that puerperal fever was contagious and could be prevented from spreading by the simple act of enforcing appropriate hand washing principles by surgeons and other health caregivers. In 1673 his earliest observations were published by the Royal Society in its journal: Philisophical Transactions.English Royal Society. Pasteur’s contribution to the germ theory of disease is often credited with instituting changes in hospital/medical practices to minimize the spread of disease by microbes or germs. his findings were verified as accurate and his place in history vindicated. In 1676. Semmelweis eventually published a book in 1861 that communicated the ideas he had been developing for nearly 14 years. His findings contradicted current scientific opinion which blamed the existence of disease upon imbalances of the four basic “humours” in the body. Eventually. Doctor’s unwilling to consider that they may have been the cause of so many deaths argued that the practice of hand washing would be too much work. doctors were using ethanol as an anti-septic to dress wounds as early as 1763 and in 1840 Jakob Henle postulated the theory of the contagion. however. The medical community at the time received his public lectures on the subject coldly. Unfortunately his methods of designing lenses died with him and it was not until nearly two centuries later that the basis of the germ theory of disease was established. he is credited with the discovery that weak forms of disease could be used as an immunization against stronger forms and furthermore that rabies is transmitted by . it was not until the pioneering work of Loius Pasteur and Joseph Lister that hand-washing became as widely practiced in medicine as it is today. After observing that cases of “childbed” fever (as it was more commonly known) were more common in one of the wards than in others where he worked. he tested some hypotheses and found that infections were reduced if doctors carefully washed their hands before dealing with pregnant women and especially after dealing with corpses. however. His conclusion was that some unknown material from the dead bodies was causing the epidemic. Also. and he was later committed to an insane asylum where died. His discovery in 1847. if not with hostility. he sent to the Royal Society a copy of his first observations of microscopic single-celled organisms. Even though in Paris.
Following this discovery. is credited with discovering hydrogen . controversial as they were in their time. that germs must give rise to contamination and did not occur spontaneously from non-living matter indicated that life begat life – unlike the ideas held by most evolutionists at the time. However. Louis Jacques Thenard. he had set out to help French distillers prevent spoilage due to germs and he developed the slow heating process we now know as Pasteurization that stops bacteria from forming. he is also credited with introducing the medical world to the concept of viruses. he opened the Pasteur Institute in 1888 and worked to convince others of his ideas. methods proposed by Lister were finding acceptance among even English doctors. After learning that a certain phenol. He fought to convince surgeons that germs did exist and that they carried diseases. carbolic acid. was being used effectively to disinfect sewers and could be safely used on human flesh. Dirty instruments and hands were capable of spreading germs too and therefore also spread diseases. he was introduced to some of Pasteur’s ideas about germ theory and corroborated it with his own ideas about the spread of infections. Iodine was discovered and found useful in dressing wounds by John Davies in 1839. he had enough data and refining of his techniques to demonstrate success and by 1879. if germs entering from the outside are were responsible instead (in much the same way that wine could go bad) then if the germs could be killed. instruments and bandages used in operations. In 1811. a French chemist. His theory. He also would spray the air with carbolic acid to kill airborne germs. the possibility for infection could be eliminated. When Lister was working in Glasgow in 1860.viruses too small to be seen under the microscopes of the time. in 1865. Over a year later. While at this time the scientific applications of disinfectants were gaining ground. but considered absolutely correct today. Originally. Pasteur had demonstrated that the problem with spoilage of wine was due to the germs which had interfered with the fermentation process by entering through the air. Lister immediately recognized the validity and practical application of Pasteur’s work and theorized that if infection arose spontaneously within a wound then little could be done to prevent it. he began using it to wash his hands. especially for boils and abscesses. Pasteur’s pasteurization process killed germs and thus prevented the spread of disease. For that matter. it was mainly due to the pioneering work in microbiology during the 1800’s that led to the widespread acceptance of the germ theory of disease. Many disinfectants were being used as antiseptics at this point and it was not well known which were most effective or safest to use.
Still highly effective as an oral anti-septic and in the cleansing of open cuts. His team examined data from a study in the Philippines.” He believes that we may be depriving developing immune systems of important environmental input needed to help guide their function throughout childhood and into adulthood. however. commonly used household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can sometimes do more harm than good. has published the year previously in 2008. There have been a few studies conducted that seem to implicate over-cleanliness to be a health problem too. “ultra-clean. a doctor from Beijing Woman and Children’s Health Care Hospital. Then she determined that the boy’s mother was obsessed with cleanliness and the boy had never been exposed to a natural environment. The data was compiled by tracking children born in the 1980s to 3.peroxide in 1818. isopropyl alcohol and chlorine. More recently. which followed participants from birth to 22 years of age. Last year another study from the Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Policy Research led by Thomas McDade. which in turn increases risks for a wide range of disease. diarrhea or a skin infection whenever he goes to kindergarten. fever. She recognized that the mother worried too much. suggests that. contrary to what previous research has shown. This supports what Wang Nianrong. ultra-hygienic environments early in life may contribute to higher levels of illness as an adult. never allowing him to touch dirty things like mud or wood without washing immediately afterward. Wang said that one three-year-old boy she treats ends up with a cold. even ordering the babysitters to change the boy’s clothes every day.327 Filipino mothers. As a result. Wang believes that the boy has a very weak immune system due to living too long in a clean . Hygiene assessments of the household environment included whether domestic animals such as pigs and dogs roamed freely and the family’s socioeconomic resources. Other more anti-septic compounds were also being introduced such as ethanol. Findings suggest that early exposure to infectious microbes may help protect individuals from cardiovascular diseases that can lead to death as an adult. he recovers rapidly as soon as he returns home. hydrogen peroxide is also used in low temperature sterilizers for heat-sensitive equipment used in hospitals. Visits with the children were as frequent as every two months for the first two years of their lives and then later adjusted to every four or five years until the children reached their 20s. It also suggests that immune systems may need a higher level of exposure to common everyday bacteria and microbes to guide their development.
. Two chemicals commonly found in most of these liquid hand soap products. studies now indicate that they may have some undesirable side effects. Even with the advent of new technologies and newer chemicals. Triclocarban has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor possibly responsible for early puberty among girls and increased likelihood of cancers developing.C. Without the persevering efforts of men and women like Semmelweis. Lister. She also said that children who play around dirt. One test-tube study showed that triclosan attaches to the surface molecules of some cells and overexcites them with too much Calcium. many lives would continue to be lost due to microbial infection. A person’s ability to fight off diseases can only be developed gradually over repeated exposures. Wang and Dr. We owe many thanks. and even the more recent efforts of Dr. There is still more research to be done to show that these chemicals are harmful to most people. a professor of environmental engineering at U. PhD. Furthermore.environment. possibly causing harm to developing neural circuits in fetuses of pregnant women. to the continued explorations into the microbial world of our many learned and skillful scientists. were developed in the 1950’s and 60’s and first used mainly as antiseptic agents in hospitals. Pasteur. In her opinion. but the evidence in support of anti-bacterial soaps fostering more resistant strains of bacteria and micro-organisms is more conclusive. In the history of disinfectant use. In conclusion. Chang. there seem to be many conflicting views and constantly new information to guide our choices. Dan Chang. it seems as though current sentiment on these issues has swung from one extreme to the other. triclocarban and triclosan. however. the best way to build the immune system is to let children experience nature. plants and germs and even some viruses will gradually adapt to these pathogens. it is clear that the stakes continue to be high in this search for healthy medical practices. Davis has uncovered some startling new discoveries concerning anti-bacterial soaps now popular in the United States. Although it has been shown that these disinfectants are no more effective in preventing the spread of germs and disease than the standard practice of using soap and water.
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