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Hippocrates the father of medicine

So what are the facts about Hippocrates

On completion of my BSc (Hons) in herbal medicine my colleagues, completing the same year, and I stood together and quoted the Hippocratic Oath for entry to the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. You will see references stating physicians do this. Apparently, if this was historically true, it is no longer although some medical schools do have a modern, adapted oath.

There are a few different versions of the oath attributed to Hippocrates. In actual fact there is no real evidence it was written by Hippocrates. An anonymous piece of Greek text. It could have been written by anyone!

You may also have read of a Hippocrates or Hippocratic Diet. Again this is not attributable to Hippocrates and is actually a far more modern diet. The diet consists of organic, predominately raw, vegetables. Most resources for this diet include this quote which is also ‘apparently’ attributed to Hippocrates.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Hippocrates is largely credited with changing the mindset that disease was not caused by any external supernatural forces. Environment, standard of living and diet were more probable causes.

So what do we actually know of Hippocrates?

It is generally believed he was born around 460BC on the Greek island of Kos. He was indeed a physician. There is no actual documented evidence as to whether Hippocrates believed in the gods and supernatural causes.

In summary…

In the end it probably doesn’t matter which Greek physician, if it was a Greek physician, that came up with the quote above. It is still a very pertinent quote. Food should indeed be our medicine.

The change in medical practice, to look at the person rather than believing in supernatural causes, was a great advancement no matter when discovered. Or indeed by whom?

So is it correct to quote Hippocrates the father of medicine? We will probably never know the real answer.


BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine /
Diploma in Aromatherapy & Essential Oil Science

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