Greek physician Hippocrates of Cos (circa 460-377 B.C. ) is often called the "father of medicine". His contributions to medicine include detailed observations of disease and its effects, and an understanding of how health is often influenced by diet, breakdowns in bodily processes, and the environment.
Facts about the life of Hippocrates are rare. Some information, however, is consistent. Hippocrates was bom on the island of Cos into a family of doctors. He taught at the widely-regarded medical school on the island and traveled widely throughout ancient Greece and the Mideast giving lectures. Quite famous during his lifetime, Hippocrates died at a fairly old age in Larissa.
In his school, Hippocrates tried to separate medical knowledge from myth and superstition. Modern knowledge about Hippocrates' methods comes from the Corpus Hippocratum, a collection of 70 volumes that seems to have been gathered in the great Library of Alexandria around 200 B.C. While few of these books were probably written by Hippocrates himself, they are widely considered to be an expression of his medical teachings and philosophy.
The Hippocratic approach to medicine emphasized diet and the clinical examination of biological functions. In his lectures and teachings, Hippocrates noted that the environment can affect health in both positive and negative ways. He also advanced the idea of the "four humors," whereby disease was supposed to result from an imbalance in the body's four important fluids.
Hippocrates is credited with writing about preventive medicine. He and his followers were very concerned about preserving health through proper diet and activities, such as exercise and getting enough rest.
Hippocrates was not content to simply work on the causes and treatment of disease. He advised medical practitioners to be serious about their profession and have high moral standards. These standards are embodied in what we call the "Hippocratic Oath," which doctors still swear to today. According the Oath, a physician is required to swear to use his knowledge only to save a life, not to take it; not to cause abortion; to maintain a professional relationship with patients; and not to reveal secrets given to him by patients.