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Sydenham

medical, theories, profession, english and interrupted

SYDENHAM, Thomas ("THE ENGLISH HIPPOCRATES" ), English physician: b. Wynford Eagle, Dorset, 10 Sept. 1624; d. London, 29 Dec. 1689. He entered Oxford University in 1642 but his studies were interrupted by serv ice as an officer in the Army of Parliament. He was graduated bachelor of medicine at Ox in 1648 and was elected a fellow of All Souls College, but his medical studies were again interrupted by military service. He be gan practice at Westminster about 1655, for some time still giving much attention to poli tics. He was licensed by the Royal College of Physicians in 1663 and took his M.D. at Cam bridge University in 1676. While his medical studies were much interrupted and his early practice was without a medical license he made remarkable progress. He developed powers of diagnosis amounting to genius and he followed the method of Hippocrates in watching the progress of the patient and as sisting nature in its effort to throw off dis ease. His theories were backed by his notable success in treating patients; and by his strong sense and plain manner of dealing with matters hitherto cloaked with professional mystery. He also kept mainly to simple prescriptions in stead of the involved sort in vogue. He re ceived recognition from abroad comparatively early in his career, his fame being largely aug mented by his writings; but he made many enemies in the medical profession at home, although he also enjoyed the loyal support of many notable members of his profession. He made important contributions to medical sci ence in his study of gout, of which he was a victim; his observations of epidemic diseases through a number of seasons and distinguished several that were formerly confused; intro duced the cooling method of treating smallpox; was the first to use a tincture of opium, laud anum; and initiated the use of Peruvian bark in treating malaria. His scorn for dogmatic

theories was intense and he was known in the case of a patient whose strength had been viti ated by the weakening processes of the day to prescribe food instead of medicine — an unheard-of procedure. His doctrines came into full recognition in the early part of the 18th century and it was then that the custom of designating him the "English was inaugurated. However, while he felt keenly the antagonism evinced toward him by many members of his profession, he enjoyed a uniformly successful career and never suffered the ostracism endured by many pioneers in new theories of medicine. Author of (Oh servationes medic& (1676) ; (Tractatus de podagra et hydrope' (1683) ; (Schedula mon itoria de nova febris ingress& (16136) ; 'Proc essus integri' (1692), etc. The best edition of his works is that of the Sydenham Society, edited by W. A. Greenhill (2d ed., 1844). Little is known of his personal life, but of the numerous sketches of his career appended to editions of his works the most, interesting is his own account of his theories and practices in the introduction to (Observationes mediae' (1676). Consult also Picard, F., (Sydenham, sa vie, sa oeuvres' (Paris 1889) ; Payne, J. F., 'T. Sydenham' (London 1900).