Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers Endpiece

Consultant reappraisal 2500 years ago

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 08 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:546

Zoroaster sought to give an official status to primitive Iranian medicine … Three classes of physicians are specified … those who heal with sacred spells, those who heal with vegetable juices, and those who heal with the knife. The medical spellbinders were reckoned the ablest because they could heal without the intervention of drugs or the knife. To qualify in surgery, the candidate was required to exhibit his skill upon three heretics in succession. If all three of his patients died, he was disqualified from practice; if they lived, he was admitted to practice, but punished if a subsequent patient died from malpractice.


  • Garrison FH. Persian medicine and medicine in Persia: a geometrical survey. Bull Hist Med 1933;1:144

  • Jeremy Hugh Baron, honorary professorial lecturer, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York