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Greece and Thermal Medicine

When we hear the term medical tourism today, we often picture someone taking vacation time off to get weight loss surgery in Mexico, before recovering on the shores of Cancun. This is because a combination of price, expertise, and time management is creating a current demand for the above scenario. However, that is only a fraction of our understanding of medical tourism in Huntsville, AL.

For centuries, many people have travelled from one area to another for the sake of their health. Even the concept of recovery combined with a vacation is not a new one. So, we are going to cover other instances of medical tourism in ancient history.


Greece and Thermal Medicine

There is nothing more relaxing than a hot bath. Sometimes sitting in a hot tub filled with the right amount of scented oils and soaps to take your cares away. Most people know it. And so did our ancient ancestors. The Sumerians and Greeks were big fans of using natural hot springs. The practice of bathing to heal your body is Thermal Medicine, and they loved every minute of it.

According to the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Sciences,”Ancient Greeks well-knew the beneficial properties of sulphurous springs, especially for healing skin diseases and for relieving muscular and joint pain.Hippocrates dedicated a large section to thermal water in his work De is, a quiz at loci, in which he described the chemical and organoleptic water features, and the effects of hot and cold baths on the human body.”

Those healing properties were enough of a draw to bring in visitors from neighboring nations. Bathing in ancient civilizations also doubled as a social activity. This marks it as one of the first instances of medical tourism that we have on record.


Travels to India for Yoga and Surgery

If you fast forward a few thousand years, and travel as many miles, you will learn that the next stop in our comprehensive history of medical tourism is in one of the oldest civilizations.  India always had a way of categorizing and compartmentalizing medicine in ways that were almost advanced for the time.

People who were sick and had heard of India’s approach to medicine, would travel a long distance for Ayurvedic treatment. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The main goal of this treatment is to promote good health and has been around for over 3,000 years.

The combined spiritual practice, isolated environment, and attention to wellness was enough of a draw for medical tourists to come from all over the ancient world.


Medical Tourism in the Middle East

However, Greece and India weren’t the only places in the world where people would go for medical treatment. In the 1200’s, Europe was going through its dark ages and the Mongolian empire was falling apart. However, during this time the Middle East was still going through the tail end of its own Golden Age.

While the Baghdad house of Wisdom will fall some 40 years later, putting  further development to a screeching halt, it was the right time for Cairo to open the Mansuri Hospital.

According to Health, “Many early Islamic cultures established health care systems that also catered for foreigners. In 1248 AD, the Mansuri Hospital became the largest and most advanced hospital in the world of that time. With the capacity to accommodate 8,000 people, this hospital became a healthcare destination for foreigners regardless of race or religion.”

But this hardly illustrates the level of innovations that this hospital had to offer. The National Library of Medicine describes this in the right detail.

“They were built on a cruciform plan with four central iwans or vaulted halls, with many adjacent rooms including kitchens, storage areas, a pharmacy, some living quarters for the staff, and sometimes a library. Each iwan would have fountains to provide a supply of clean water and baths. There was a separate hall for women patients and areas reserved for the treatment of conditions prevalent in the area — eye ailments, gastrointestinal complaints (especially dysentery and diarrhoea), and fevers. There was also an area for surgical cases and a special ward for the mentally ill. Some had an area for rheumatics and cold sufferers (mabrudun). There frequently were out-patient clinics with a free dispensary of medicaments. “

When you consider that this was during the same timeframe as the black plague, you can’t help but marvel.

Medical Tourism Has a Long History

It is easy to have a sense of pride about today’s advancements in medical tourism. But it has an old foundation. If it wasn’t for the efforts of places like the Baghdad House of Wisdom, Ayurvedic treatment in India, or the baths of Greece, we wouldn’t have the current medical tourism industry. So, take the time to learn more about these instances in history and appreciate just how we got here with today’s medical tourism in Huntsville, AL.