Iatrochemistry


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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Iatrochemistry

 

a school of the natural sciences and medicine that arose in the 16th century. Iatrochemists regarded the most important cause of diseases to be disturbances in the chemical processes within the body; they consequently sought chemical agents to cure the diseases.

The origin and development of iatrochemistry, which made its greatest gains in Germany and the Netherlands, are linked with the careers of Paracelsus, J. B. van Helmont, and the physician and anatomist F. Sylvius (1614–72); Sylvius formulated the principal tenets of iatrochemistry and founded the first medical laboratory for analysis, at the University of Leiden. Iatrochemists paid particular attention to the study of digestion and of such glands as the sex glands. They distinguished between “acidic” and “basic” diseases. In essence, iatrochemistry introduced a scientific (chemical) basis for the theory of humoral pathology.

In his criticism of iatrochemistry, R. Boyle argued that chemistry has the independent task of determining the composition of substances, a process that also enriches medicine. Iatrochemistry, which made a positive contribution to the struggle against the dogmas of medieval scholastic medicine, ceased to exist as a school of medicine in the second half of the 18th century.

P. E. ZABLUDOVSKII

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
And Paracelsus' comments on a cure for syphilis point the way toward both chemotherapy and iatrochemistry. Of the use of mercury to treat syphilis, he argues, "Upon these three forms of manifestation of mercurius, or quicksilver, is based the cure for the French disease" (168).
The theory of humours and liberalism on one side, (21) iatrochemistry, vitalism and interventionism on the other: each drew its inspiration from the strand of medical thought closer to its initial outlook.
3 Valuable information on this practice of iatrochemistry is included in John Headrich's Arcana Philosophia or, Chymical Secrets.
(34) Paracelsus the Archeus not only sought to perfect nature but also to criticize and reform the alchemical tradition of Aristotle, Galen, and Avecinna (35) by inventing a theoretical model for iatrochemistry. In this way, he could claim to transform prime matter into ultimate matter.
What also emerges as significant in the seventeenth century are the growing influence of Paracelsian medicine and iatrochemistry, and the central place of alchemy in spiritualistic cosmologies embodying ideas of human redemption and eschatology.
Furthermore, not only was there general acceptance of the fundamentals of alchemical theory, but various members of the academic community showed an active interest in transmutational alchemy, often in combination with iatrochemistry.
Science and theology, in the Hess circle, were thus amalgamated: iatrochemistry, alchemy, natural science, occultism, and apocalyptic speculations were wedded to Christian piety and desire for reform.