Chapter

Inflamed bodies

Mark Harrison

in Medicine in an age of Commerce and Empire

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577736
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595196 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577736.003.0006
Inflamed bodies

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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The first chapter of Part II examines therapeutic practices in the tropics during the early years of the British presence in India and the Caribbean. It begins by examining the legacy of Portuguese and other European practitioners, and looks at the extent to which their practices differed from those of locals. While there were some similarities between European and Indian medical practices, for example, it shows that Europeans resorted far more often to bloodletting, which was a standard remedy to relieve fevers and other complaints in Europe. Although European medicine was changing rapidly in the course of the seventeenth century, bloodletting received a new lease of life at the end of the century, being advocated by fashionable mechanistic physicians and popular teachers such as Herman Boerhaave. At first, British practitioners applied this antiphlogistic (anti‐inflammatory) regimen to tropical diseases, but gradually abandoned it as inappropriate for diseases in the tropics.

Keywords: antiphlogistic regimen; bloodletting; Herman Boerhaave; Indian medicine; inflammation; mechanical medicine; Portuguese; therapeutics; tropics

Chapter.  4177 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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