Scientist That “Saw” Viruses Without A Microscope – Mkhitar Heratsi

Armenian physician and a classic of medieval medicine in Armenia Mkhitar Heratsi (12th century) was well-familiar with the Greco-Roman and Byzantine medicine, the medicine of the peoples of the medieval East, as well as with the medieval philosophy and natural sciences.

Heratsi wrote several major essays where he summarized the many-sided experience of his medical practice. The most significant of his works that have reached us is “Relief of Fevers” (1184), where he described the etiology and pathogenesis of acute infectious diseases and put forward a new concept of “mold”.

By mold, Heratsi meant a process that takes place in a material substance. He believed, for example, that typhus arises from the “mold” of the blood. He was critical of the works of ancient and medieval classics of medicine, showing himself as a materialistically thinking doctor.

Heratsi, as a rule, avoided abstract judgments about the occurrence of diseases, associating them with the influence of external factors. For his time, he accurately described the clinical picture of individual diseases.

Heratsi’s system of treatment incorporated an individual approach to patients, the use of medicines, hydrotherapy, massage, psychotherapy, and diet therapy. He was a supporter of preventive medicine.

German researcher Ernst Seidel writes: “We must resolutely give the Armenian master recognition for his thorough knowledge of nature, consistent independent thinking, and complete freedom from scholastic bondage.”


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