Hippocrates on Diet and Doctors

Leave a Comment

Consider these five inspiring quotes from the writings of Hippocrates, the Greek physician generally regarded as the father of medicine. (These quotes are taken from Hippocrates, Volume 1: Ancient Medicine.)

His views on medical treatment are timeless and perhaps more relevant than ever.

1.  On Water

 "The best (waters) are those that flow from high places and earthy hills. By themselves they are sweet and clear, and the wine they can stand is but little. In winter they are warm, in summer cold. They would naturally be so, coming from very deep springs. I commend expecially those whose flow breaks forth towards the rising - by preference the summer rising - of the sun. For they must be brighter, sweet-smelling and light; while all that are salt, harsh and hard are not good to drink, though there are some constitutions and some diseases which are benefited by drinking such waters. . . "   (On Airs, Waters, and Places)

2. On the importance of food and drink in relation to health

 ". . . this at least I think a physician must know, and be at great pains to know, about natural science, if he is going to perform aught of his duty, what man is in relation to foods and drinks, and to habits generally, and what will be the effects of each on each individual." (On Ancient Medicine)

3. On the differences between individuals with regard to food and drink

". . .  cheese does not harm all men alike; some can eat their fill of it without the slightest hurt, nay, those it agrees with are wonderfully strengthened thereby. Others come off badly. So the constitutions of these men differ, and the difference lies in the constituent of the body which is hostile to cheese, and is roused and stirred to action under its influence . . . But if cheese were bad for the human constitution without exception, it would have hurt all." (On Ancient Medicine)

4.On the art of medicine

"Some practitioners are poor, others very excellent; this would not be the case if an art of medicine did not exist at all, and had not been the subject of any research and discovery, but all would be equally inexperienced and unlearned therein, and the treatment of the sick would be in all respects haphazard.  But it is not so; just as in all other arts the workers vary much in skill and in knowledge, so also is it in the case of medicine."  (On Ancient Medicine)

5. On the nature of healing and the value of experience

 "Time is that wherein there is opportunity, and opportunity is that wherein there is no great time. Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity. However, knowing this, one must attend in medical practice not primarily to plausible theories, but to experience combined with reason." (Precepts)

This post shared at Healing with Food Friday. and Wellness Wednesday.