A cool drink for an ardent feverBMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a1749 (Published 01 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1749
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
It is difficult not to write the history of medicine as the history of progress; but how is progress measured, and when exactly did it begin? Discoveries were often made a very long time before anyone benefited from them. Is progress an increase in knowledge, in curative power, or in both? When was the first life saved by the anatomy of Vesalius?
These questions came to my mind as I was reading Ibn al-Jazzar on fevers. Ibn al-Jazzar was an eminent physician of the 10th century who practised in north Africa and wrote a compendium of medicine, Provisions for the Traveller and Nourishment for the Sedentary, that was famous in its day and …