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Portal:Medicine

The Medicine Portal

Marble statue of Asclephius on a pedestal, symbol of medicine in Western medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has been around for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine, though they do not fall within the modern definition of “medicine” which is based in medical science. Traditional medicine and folk medicine remain commonly used with, or instead of, scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine (meaning “[something] other than medicine”, from Latin alter, “other”). For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, alternative treatments outside the bounds not just of scientific medicine, but also outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. Quackery can encompass an array of practices and practitioners, irrespective of whether they are prescientific (traditional medicine and folk medicine) or modern pseudo-scientific, including chiropractic which rejects modern scientific germ theory of disease (instead believing without evidence that human diseases are caused by invisible subluxation of the bones, predominately of the spine and less so of other bones), with just over half of chiropractors also rejecting the science of immunization. Read more...

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The 1918 flu pandemic was an influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920 caused by an unusually severe and deadly strain of the subtype H1N1 of the species Influenza A virus. By far the most destructive influenza pandemic in history, it killed some 50 million to 100 million people worldwide (2.5 – 5% of the human population) in just 18 months, dwarfing the simultaneous bloodshed due to World War I. Furthermore, many of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients.

Despite not having originated in Spain, the Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish Flu. This was mainly because the pandemic received greater press attention in Spain than in the rest of the world, as Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship. (More...)

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Hemagglutinin-alignments.png
Sequence alignment of 27 H9N2 avian influenza hemagglutinin protein sequences. The top section is colored by residue conservation and the bottom by residue chemical properties. Alignment produced with ClustalW.

Photo credit: Opabinia regalis

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