A History of Geology and Medicine
The historical links between geology and medicine are surprisingly numerous and diverse. This, the first ever volume dedicated to the subject, contains contributions from an international authorship of geologists, historians and medical professionals.
Rocks, minerals, fossils and earths have been used therapeutically since earliest times and details recorded on ancient papyri, clay tablets, medieval manuscripts and early published sources. Pumice was used to clean teeth, antimony to heal wounds, clays as antidotes to poison, gold to cure haemorrhoids and warts, and gem pastes to treat syphilis and the plague, while mineral springs preserved health. Geology was crucial in the development of public health. Medical men who made important contributions to geology include Steno, Worm, Parkinson, Bigsby, William Hunter, Jenner, John Hulke, Conan Doyle, Gorini and various Antarctic explorers.
A History of Geology and Medicine will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, medical personnel, historians of science and the general reader who has an interest in science.
Bezoars were introduced into Western medicine by Arabian doctors during the twelfth century. They were used as antidotes to arsenic, the poison used most commonly in European courts. The use of bezoars was widespread during the sixteenth century, and their value was ten times more than their weight in gold. These were rare and expensive items and many kings owned one or more specimens, some of which were mounted as pieces of jewelry. Sixteenth and seventeenth century physicians wrote extensively about them, describing their properties and use. ‘Oriental bezoars’ (mostly from Asian porcupines) were introduced at this time.