Stories - Canon of Medicine

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Ibn Sina wrote and taught widely on medicine, philosophy, and natural sciences.

In the Canon, Ibn Sina collected together medical knowledge from across civilisations. Made up of five volumes, the book covered medical principles, medicines, diseases of various body parts, general disease, and traumas.

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(Left) The cover of the Latin edition of Ibn Sina’s Canon. (Source)
(Right) 15th-century manuscript shows the opening page of the first book of the Canon of Medicine, which was originally called Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb, or The Code of Laws in Medicine. Its author, Ibn  Sina, known as Avicenna in the West, influenced medical treatment and thought across Muslim and European countries from the 11th century until as late as the 19th-century (Source) – (Source: 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization, 3rd eition, pages 169 & 171)

Ibn Sina described in detail the causes, types, and complications of fractures, and the various ways to treat them. He advised against splinting a fractured limb right away, but recommended waiting five days—a procedure now universally adopted. In his writings, he included detailed instructions for understanding traumatic injuries to every bone—and even described a thumb injury now known as Bennett’s fracture hundreds of years before the scholar after whom it is named.

Stories - Canon of MedicineCommemorative medal issued by the UNESCO  in 1980 to mark the 1000th birth anniversary of Ibn Sina. The obverse depicts a scene showing Avicenna surrounded by his disciples, inspired by a miniature in a 17th-century Turkish manuscript; whilst on the reverse is a phrase by Avicenna in Arabic and Latin: “Cooperate for the well-being of the body and the survival of the human species”. The UNESCO established the “Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science” in 2002. (Source)

One hundred and forty-two properties of herbal remedies were included in Ibn Sina’s Canon. With historical roots in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India, herbs had been important to health in ancient Greek and Roman societies. In early Muslim civilisation, an increase in travel and trade made new plants, trees, seeds, and spices available, along with the possibilities of new herbal medicines.

Gerard of Cremona translated the Canon into Latin in the 12th century. By the 13th century, concise Latin versions of the Canon had been published, along with commentaries to clarify its contents. The Canon was still consulted by some doctors until the early 1800s.

Get the full story from 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization Reference (4th  Edition) Annotated. 

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(Left) An illustrated page of the Canon in a Hebrew translation. The miniatures shown here are the three basic stages of a physician’s visit with a patient: the examination of the patient, the consultation with attendants, and possibly a written prescription or treatment procedure. (Right) Page from an illuminated manuscript of the Latin translation of the Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina (Source)