Scene of a 13th century infirmary.Scene of a 13th century infirmary.
Time c. 800-1400 AD
Title Medieval medicine is practiced
Event After the Roman Empire's collapse, most knowledge on health and healing is stored in the vaults of the Roman Catholic Church. Early medieval medicine relies largely on folk traditions and remedies based on practices dating back to Galen and Roman times. However, as the medieval period progresses, Christianity becomes a major medical influence.

Medieval medicine stresses demonic influence. Mental illness is not scientifically studied or treated from the Middle Ages until long after this era, when French physician Philippe Pinel (1745-1826), who eventually reforms care of the mentally ill. No organized attempt is made to even provide decent living conditions for those with mental illness.

Medieval doctors emphasize prevention, exercise, a good diet, and a good environment. The body is viewed as a part of the universe, a concept derived from the Greeks and Romans. The Humours are still recognized, and natural functions, such as sneezing, sweating, crying, or urinating, are thought to be the best way of maintaining health. Remedies are often herbal. Medieval remedy recipes often call for hundreds of therapeutic ingredients, emphasizing the idea that every substance in nature is powerful. As Christianity spreads, many of these folk healing methods are forsaken.

Early medieval medicine believes illness or injury is caused by a variety of spiritual influences. Folk medicine, prayer, astrology, and mysticism are the most popular healing methods. As Christianity spreads, these methods are dismissed. The early church teaches that illness is a divine punishment for sin. Many people seek cures through repentance, meditation, prayer, and pilgrimages.

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