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 DEM. KARABEROPOULOS

«Water, universal medicine" according to doctor Kirikos Chairetis, 1798».
 
 

SUMMARY

 

In the Abstracts Book of the 3rd Meeting of the Intrnational Society for the History of Medicine 11-14 September 2005, Patra Greece,

 

 

"WATER, UNIVERSAL MEDICINE" ACCORDING TO DOCTOR KΙRΙΚOS CHAIRETIS,1798

 

Dem. Karamperopoulos, Al. Oeconomopoulou

Hellenic Association on History of Paediatrics, Athens

 

As soon as doctor Kerecos Chaeretis (1756-1830) got the degree of Medicine at the University of Padova, wrote and published the book "Εγχειρίδιον της των ζώων οικονομίας, (Manual of animal economy), Venice 1798, which has been characterized as the first book of physiology in the Greek language for the respiratory, alimentary and circulation system.

After the description of blood circulation in adult and fetus, Ghaeretis writes on pages 60-67 about the importance of water as a therapeutic measure. He marks that " life depends on continuous circulation of blood, especially liquids which are separated from the blood". He adds that a "universal medicine", which keeps "the rhythmical movement of blood" is the "common water", which was called "Universal medicine" by Friedrich Hoffmann, (1660-1742).

Chaeretis marks that water maintains the blood's liquidity (ρευστότητα), a term which was introduced at that time into the Greek language. Characteristically he emphasizes that "in order for blood to have free and balanced movement actual liquidity is essential", so that the "excrements" may be removed from the body and the stopping and breaking up of the blood to be prevented, also any excrement and damage, from which many diseases derive according to the scientific perceptions of that epoch. He also emphasizes that water is the only ready and safe medicine, which separates and thinners the solid parts of liquids of the body preventing their adhesion and facilitates their dismissal, whereas water deficiency is the cause of many diseases.

He cites opinions of past famous doctors, such as Hippocrates, Galen, Celsus, Avicenna and others. As for the properties of water he writes that it must be "light, transparent and without properties", mentioning Hippocrates' Aphorism (Part five 26), «ύδωρ, το ταχέως θερμαινόμενον και ταχέως ψυχόμενον, κουφότατον», "water, which is quickly warmed and quickly cools, is light".

Moreover Chaeretis mentions his personal experience, when he suffered from asthma during his student life, without finding therapy from medicine, which was given to him by his professor of Medicine at the University of Padova Andreas Komparetis. Nevertheless he was cured by using "cold water", which he applied after reading the medical book by "English Smith" about the good therapeutic results of water in asthma. Certainly Chaeretis notes that he applied the same therapy with good results to his friend, who suffered from asthma.

 

 




PRESENTATION

In the 3rd Meeting of the Intrnational Society for the History of Medicine 11-14 September 2005, Patra Greece,

 

 

 

"WATER, UNIVERSAL MEDICINE" ACCORDING TO DOCTOR KΙRΙΚOS CHAIRETIS,1798

 

Dem. Karamperopoulos, Al. Oeconomopoulou

Hellenic Association on History of Pediatrics, Athens


In ANALECTA HISTORICO MEDICA, vol. IV, 2006, p. 287-291

 

Doctor Kiricos Chaeretis (1756-1830) studied Medicine at the University of Padova and he was Sultans' physician at Constantinople from 1811 till the Greek Revolution in 1821. As soon as he got the degree of Medicine he wrote and published in the Greek language the book "Manual of animal economy" ( Εγχειρίδιον της των ζώων οικονομίας), Venice 1798, which has been characterized as the first book of physiology in the Greek language for the respiratory, alimentary and circulatory system. In particular as Chaeretis writes at the preface of his book, his teachers John Charvuris (1723-1801) professor of Practical Therapy in Torino and Paris, Markos Charvuris (1731-1808), professor of Chemistry in Padova and Vicentio Malacarne (1744-1816), anatomist and professor of Surgery in Padova had advised him to translate and publish it in the Italian language, a fact of the scientific level of his book.

It is interesting to note that professor Malacarne translated Chaeretis' diploma of Medicine from Latin to Greek, Italian, Turkish and Arabic and the text of that Greek translation is contained in Const. Sathas' book "Neohellenic Philology", Athens 1868, pp. 655-660. Moreover about Malacarne we note that in 1776 he presented the first detailed description of the anatomy of the cerebellum, in which study are introduced the terms "tonsil", "pyramid", "lingula", and "ovula" of cerebellum, and then in 1789 he presented the first important work on cretinism and goitre.

In his book Kiricos Chaeretis after the description of blood circulation in adult and fetus, writes on pages 60-67 about the importance of water as a therapeutic measure. He marks that "life depends on the uninterrupted circulation of blood and separated liquids from it". If circulation is performed well and in a normal rhythm the body is healthy, whereas on the contrary "falls in disorders", giving rise to illnesses. He points out that the medicine which should keep continually "the rhythmic movement of blood" in ones body and physique is only the "common water", as "the famous medical philosophers, old and young", the "notorious W. Cullen, (1710-1790), and Friedrich Hoffmann, (1660-1742)". it was specifically named "universal medicine" by Hoffmann, whose works are "Medicated baths, 1722" and " An Essay on the Nature and Properties of Water...Proving it to be a universal medicine etc., 1761".

Chaeretis marks that water maintains the blood's liquidity (ρευστότητα), a term which was introduced some years earlier in the Greek language. Characteristically he emphasized that "in order for blood to have a smooth flow, actual liquidity is essential", so that the "excrement" may be removed from the body and the stopping and breaking up of the blood to be prevented and "blood's excrement and deterioration" from which many diseases derive according to the scientific perceptions of that epoch.

He also emphasizes that water is the only ready and safe medicine, which separates and thins out the solid parts of liquids of the body preventing their adhesion and facilitates their dismissal. Whereas water deficiency is the cause of many diseases. He cities opinions of past famous doctors. He writes that the "father of medicine" Hippocrate and the "famous" Galen recommend water to fevers, Celsus to rheumatism and "Ρονδελέτ" Guillance Rondelet (1507-1656) professor at the university of Montpellier affirms that he cured many patients "χειραλγούς και ποδαλγούς" who suffered from pain to their arms and legs by using cold water. Also Chaeretis writes that the "famous" Avicena praises water and that "lukewarm water clears the stomach, causes looseness of the bowels, cures the colic pains and sheds the gas of bowels".

He mentions the prolific writer Dr. Sir John Floyer (1649-1734), who wrote a significant study on asthma, "A Treatise of the asthma, 1698", and who in his studies on cold baths, affirms that those who do continual use of water avoid the "disorders of the head, stroke, paralysis, pains etc" and moreover says, that the use of water stops hiccups, foul smell of the mouth, excessive temperature, prevents the formation of stones (lithiasis), asthma and dyspnea. Chaeretis must be referring to Floyer' works "An inquiry into the right use of hot, cold and temperate baths in Egland, 1697" and "The ancient ψυχρολουσία revived; Or, an essay to prove cold bathing both safe and useful, Londib 1702". We note that Doctor John Floyer is mentioned by another Greek Doctor Peter Epitis (1795-1861), who studied Medicine at the University of Vienna, and in his essay about newborns' nursing writes that "John Locke (1632-1704) and Jonh Floyer in England and including J. J. Rousseau in France, advised cold baths for the strengthening of babies".
Having knowledge of the information that cold water cures asthma, Chairetis was also able to confirm it in two actual cases, his personal experience and that of his friend, whom he cured. Specifically Charetis writes that during his student life he suffered from asthma, without finding therapy from the medication, which was given to him by his professor Andrea Comparetti (1746-1801) of Padovas' Medical School. At that time Charetis found a medical book of "English Smith", in which the therapeutic results from the use of water for asthma were mentioned. "English Smith" must be Doctor Hugh Smith (1730-1790), who wrote the book "Treatise on the use and abuse of mineral waters, London 1776". So Chaeretis asked his professor Comparetti about the importance of the book and the therapeutic action of water on asthma and Comparetti replied that he knew the writer through his books and that he was a good writer and "of high reputation".
So Chaeretis started to drink cold water and as he writes, his friends told him that he would be affected by dropsy. For four years Chaeretis was free from the symptoms of asthma (so he must have started the therapy during his second year of Medicine, in 1794) and therefore stopped the therapeutic treatment with purgatives and phlebotomy, that doctors had recommended to him. He advised a friend, who also suffered for many years from the same illness of asthma and was "scraggy", the same therapeutic treatment, that of drinking water and the result was his friend to be treated and to gain weight.
Finally Chaeretis describes the properties of water, which must be "light, transparent and clear". He suggests: first, rain water, then water of the rivers and finally spring water, quoting the Aphorism of Hippocrate "Water, which quickly heats and quickly cools is light". This phrase also occurs in the work Epidemics the Second 11. In order for someone to know whether the water is good, Chaeretis refers to Hoffmann's recommendation: if water boils meats and beans quickly and if soap foams in hands, when it is rubbed, then this water is "excellent and therefore beneficial", when it is " clear and transparent".
In conclusion we must emphasize that Dr. Kiricos Chaeretis by writing in his book "Manual of animal economy" about the circulation of blood, he found the chance to mention the importance of water in the normal operation of blood circulation and its liquidity and moreover to present the usefulness of water as a therapeutic measure especially in asthma, from which he also suffered for a long time, takes the oppοrtunity to mention the Doctors who had supported this specific therapeutic treatment, so much the ancient as well as the young.


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See Dem. Karaberopoulos, The medical European knowledge in the Greek region, 1745-1821, Library of History of Nedicine, no 1, Athens 2003, pp. 44, 77, 228, 241 and 333.

Kir. Chaeretis, "Manual of animal economy" ( Εγχειρίδιον της των ζώων οικονομίας), Venice 1798, Preface, p. 9.

See Jeremy M. Norman (ed.), Morton' Medical Bibliography, fifth edition, Scolar Press, reprinted 1993, p. 218, no. 1382.1 and p.. 596, no. 3809 respectively.

 

"About water" is written in "Dietary precepts" of Doctor Constantin Michael book's, "Dietary" (Διαιτιτική), Vienna 1794, pp. 236-244.

Fieding H. Garisson, An introduction to the History of Medicine, reprinted forth edition, W.B. Saunders, Philadelhia and London, 1961, p. 314. For Friedrich Hoffmann in 1794 Dr. Constantin Michael writes in his History of Medicine that "He is the first, who with high preciseness observed the curative powers of baths and mineral waters ". See Dem. Karaberopoulos, The first History of Medicine in the Greek Language, Athens, 1994, p. 176.

These advises of Hoffmann are mentioned in the chapter "About water" by Doctor Gregorios Kallirrois, Παραγγελίαι περί υγείας και μακροβιότητος,, Venice 1829, p. 199.

It is referred by Rhigas Velestinlis, Φυσικής απάνθισμα, Vienna 1790, p. 54. See. Stef. Koumanoudis, Συναγωγή νέων λέξεων, Athens 1900 (reprinted 1980), where it is referred to the work of Ant. Gazis in 1799.

Indicative for water see: Hippocrate, Περί υγρών χρήσιος, 1-2, ed. E.Littre, Oeuvres completes d' Hippocrate, vol. VI, Paris 1849, pp. 118-127. Galen, Περί υγιεινών, Speech A' , G.C.Kuehn, Galenus Opera Omnia, Leipzing 1825 (reprinted 2001), vol. 6, p. 56. Galen, Περι κράσεως και δυνάμεως των απλών φαρμάκων, Book A'G.C. Kuehn, vol. XI, Leipzing 1826,p.385-390. Orevasius, Ιατρικών Συναγωγών Book E', vol. I, eds Bussemakerr et Daremberg, Paris 1851, pp. 306-336. We note that Dioscuridis for the therapy of asthma recommends the consumption of water with the other medicine. See. Dioscoridis, Περί απλών φαρμάκων, Book Second, 41, ed. Max Wellman, Vol. III, Weidann, editio tertia, Hildeschein 1999, p. 259.

Jeremy M. Norman (ed.), Morton' Medical Bibliography, fifth edition, Scolar Press, reprinted 1993, p. 321, no 2029.

Journal Hermes the Logios, Vienna 1817, p. 571.

See, Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere ad Arti, Instituto Giovani Trescani, Roma, 1931, vol. X, p. 1001. Professor Andrea Comparetti is written on Chaeretis diploma, of University of Padova.

Hippocrate, Aphorisms, Part Fifth 26. See and Celsus, De Medicina, Book II. 18.12-13, translated by W.G. Spencer, Loeb Classical Library, "rain water is the lightest, then spring water, next water from river, then from a well, after that a lake, the heaviest from a marsh".

Celsus...ibid, "Water is the better, which most quickly heats or cools, also in which pulse is most quickly cooked".


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