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Ibn Sina: Medicine & Modern Science

Did you know that the Persian scholar of medicine, Ibn Sina (980-1037) suspected some diseases were spread by microorganisms.


To prevent human-to-human contamination, he came up with a method of isolating people for 40 days.


We explore Ibn Sina & his impact on modern science…

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Ibn Sina, also known to the Latin West as Avicenna, was a Persian polymath and one of the most influential Islamic philosophers, physicians, and scientists of the medieval period. He was born in 980 CE in present-day Uzbekistan and passed away in 1037 CE in Iran.


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Ibn Sina's medical works had a profound impact on European medicine. His most renowned work in medicine is "The Canon of Medicine" (Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb), considered one of the most influential medical texts in history. It consists of five books & covers a range of medical topics.


Copy of "The Canon of Medicine" (Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb) Aga Khan Museum

 

"The Canon of Medicine" compiled the medical knowledge of the time and remained a standard medical textbook in Europe and the Islamic world for centuries.


First page of the introduction to the first book (Arabic manuscript, 1597).


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The "Canon of Medicine" was translated into Latin and served as a fundamental medical text in European universities during the Middle Ages. It greatly influenced the development of medical education and practice in Europe.


A Latin commentary on Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine by Italian physician Gentilis de Fulgineo, 1477. Welcome LIbrary.

 

Ibn Sina classified diseases into different categories based on their symptoms and provided detailed descriptions of various ailments. His approach to classification and diagnosis influenced medical practice for centuries.


A doctor visits a patient in a 14th-century Persian miniature. Austrian National Library. Photograph by Bridgeman/ACI

 

Ibn Sina emphasised the importance of observation and clinical experience in medicine. He advocated for physicians to closely observe their patients and document their findings systematically.


Drawing of viscera, Avicenna’s ‘Qanun fi al-Tibb’ (Canon of Medicine) Welcome Images

 

Ibn Sina made significant contributions to pharmacology and therapeutics. He documented hundreds of drugs and their effects, including their proper dosages and potential side effects.