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The Teachings of Hippocrates

air, atmospheric, electricity and city

THE TEACHINGS OF HIPPOCRATES It should not be thought, however, that the effect of atmospheric electri city remained confined to the formation of the first structures of organic compounds. Living organisms continually absorb ions— "electrical corpuscles"— from the air ocean, using them to maintain the most im portant life processes. The famous Greek physician Hippocrates noticed 2300 years ago, the difference between outdoor and indoor air, and that the latter is distinctly beneficial for human health. In addition to prescribing medicines, he ordered his patients to take long walks by the sea shore or in the mountains. This advice recurs in the Hippocratic Collection (such as the treatises on "The Sacred Disease," "Epidemics," "Airs, Waters, Places." Physicians in ancient times believed that "Air is the pasture of life," and built "aerariums"— platforms where the patients could expose their bodies to the open air. Aerotherapy has been adopted by modern physiotherapy. Eastern wisdom shared the classical Greek belief in fresh air, as reflected by the proverb "It is better to take another walk than keep a medicine chest at home." The importance of air was vividly described by the Soviet writer P. A. Pavlenko in his novel "Happiness." The physician Komkov says to his patient: "Your illness requires a simple medicine— air. More air while

you are awake or asleep. You must let yourself be aired throughout, every cell in your body must be washed with fresh air... You should eat in the open and sleep in the open... So, begin to take air in unlimited doses. Learn to breathe. Get used to regarding air as food, masticate it with your nasopharynx, taste its flavor, enjoy it as a gourmet... Drink only flowing air... In your illness, adopt the open-window practice... " In his novel "A Floating City" (1895), Jules Verne plans "a visit of the floating city to the principal archipelagos of the eastern Pacific, where the air is remarkably salubrious, very rich, .. in oxygen— condensed oxygen, saturated with electricity, and possessing revitalizing properties that are usually absent from oxygen in its ordinary state." Studies of the biological effects of atmospheric electricity started early in the twentieth century. The famous Swedish physicochemist Svante Arrhenius demonstrated the effect of fluctuations in atmospheric electricity upon certain human physiological functions. At the end of the last century, the Russian hygienist Irinarkh Skvortsov also stressed the importance of atmospheric electricity in the life activities of an organism.