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Hippocratic Oath










by Hippocrates, 400 BC

translated by Francis Adams

The Aphorisms

from section I

1. Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.

4. A slender, restricted diet is always dangerous in chronic
diseases, and also in acute diseases, where it is not requisite. And again, a diet brought to the extreme point of attenuation is dangerous; and repletion, when in the extreme, is also dangerous.

13. Old persons endure fasting most easily; next, adults; young persons not nearly so well; and most especially infants, and of them such as are of a particularly lively spirit.

18. Invalids bear food worst during summer and autumn, most easily in winter, and next in spring.

24. Use purgative medicines sparingly in acute diseases, and at the commencement, and not without proper circumspection.

from section II

10. Bodies not properly cleansed, the more you nourish the more you injure.

17. When more food than is proper has been taken, it occasions disease; this is shown by the treatment.

29. If it appear that evacuations are required, they should be made at the commencement of diseases; at the acme it is better to be quiet.

31. When a person who is recovering from a disease has a good appetite, but his body does not improve in condition, it is a bad symptom.

44. Persons who are naturally very fat are apt to die earlier than those who are slender.

from section III

1. The changes of the season mostly engender diseases, and in the seasons great changes either of heat or of cold, and the rest agreeably to the same rule.

15. Of the constitutions of the year, the dry, upon the whole, are more healthy than the rainy, and attended with less mortality.

19. All diseases occur at all seasons of the year, but certain of them are more apt to occur and be exacerbated at certain seasons.

28. Young people for the most part have a crisis in their
complaints, some in forty days, some in seven months, some in seven years, some at the approach to puberty; and such complaints of children as remain, and do not pass away about puberty, or in females about the commencement of menstruation, usually become chronic.

from section IV

2. In purging we should bring away such matters from the body as it would be advantageous had they come away spontaneously; but those of an opposite character should be stopped.

38. And in whatever part of the body there is a sweat, it shows that the disease is seated there.

60. When in fevers there is deafness, if blood run from the nostrils, or the bowels become disordered, it carries off the disease.

67. In fevers, frights after sleep, or convulsions, are a bad symptom.

75. Blood or pus in the urine indicates ulceration either of the kidneys or of the bladder.

from section V

7. Those cases of epilepsy which come on before puberty may undergo a change; but those which come on after twenty-five years of age, for the most part terminate in death.

13. In persons who cough up frothy blood, the discharge of it comes from the lungs.

28. Fumigation with aromatics promotes menstruation, and would be useful in many other cases, if it did not occasion heaviness of the head.

33. In a woman when there is a stoppage the menses, a discharge of blood from the nose is good.

36. When the menstrual discharge is of a bad color and irregular, it indicates that the woman stands in need of purging.

59. If a woman do not conceive, and wish to ascertain whether she can conceive, having wrapped her up in blankets, fumigate below, and if it appear that the scent passes through the body to the nostrils and mouth, know that of herself she is not unfruitful.

72. Persons disposed to jaundice are not very subject to flatulence.

from section VI

3. In protracted cases of dysentery, loathing of food is a bad symptom, and still worse, if along with fever.

6. Diseases about the kidneys and bladder are cured with difficulty in old men.

23. If a fright or despondency lasts for a long time, it is a melancholic affection.

29. A woman does not take the gout, unless her menses be stopped.

31. Pains of the eyes are removed by the bath, or a fomentation, or venesection, or purging.

38. It is better not to apply any treatment in cases of occult cancer; for, if treated, the patients die quickly; but if not treated, they hold out for a long time.

54. In acute diseases, complicated with fever, a moaning respiration is bad.

from section VII

17. Hiccup in inflammation of the liver bad.

30. In those cases in which frothy discharges occur in diarrhoea there are defluxions from the head.

33. In those cases in which the urine becomes divided there is great disorder in the body.

34. When bubbles settle on the surface of the urine, they indicate disease of the kidneys, and that the complaint will be protracted.

51. Sneezing arises from the head, owing to the brain being heated, or the cavity (ventricle) in the head being filled with humors; the air confined in it then is discharged, and makes a noise, because it comes through a narrow passage.

60. Fasting should be prescribed the those persons who have humid flesh; for fasting dries bodies.

72. Sleep and watchfulness, both of them, when immoderate, constitute disease.

83. In whatever diseases the eyes weep voluntarily, it is a good symptom, but when involuntarily, it is a bad.

end of aphroisms

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