In this article we will tell about the history of pharmacies from ancient times to the present day.
The first medicines appeared in the primitive era in the form of herbs. During the matriarchy, this knowledge about medicinal plants was collected and accumulated by women to maintain the well-being and health of their loved ones. A little later, medicinal herbs of animal origin joined the medicinal herbs: fat, spleen or liver of animals. The development of agriculture and craftwork made it possible to discover more and more varieties of medicinal plants and prepare their mixtures in earthenware. It was the time when modern “folk medicine” was born, which passed on from one generation to another for many centuries.
With the advent of writing, the first medical texts appeared. Ancient Egypt left us more than a dozen medical documents with hundreds of recipes for the treatment of common diseases. In India, people used special diets and methods of removing “spoiled life juices” using a variety of powders, pills and ointments. In ancient China, more than 900 medicinal herbs were used, and almost every animal could be used to get some kind of medicine. Occupational medicine appeared in ancient Greece, and later professional hospitals were opened. In addition to plant and animal products, ancient Greek doctors used some metals or precious stones for external use. In ancient Rome, medicines were extracted from natural materials; various powders, cakes, soaps, plasters were made; there were pharmacies in which medicines were prepared.
In the Middle Ages, pharmacy developed along with alchemy and astrology, intended to expel evil spirits from humans with the help of drugs. The number of compounds received by pharmacists increased; distillation, precipitation and filtration methods were improved; searches were made for the elixirs of health. In the Arab civilization in the Middle Ages, special discoveries and generalizations of the medical knowledge of many eastern civilizations were made thanks to their territorial conquests. The anatomy, physiology, hygiene and, of course, pharmacy have received significant development. Many complex drugs and methods for their preparation, manufacture and use were recorded; experiments were conducted on poisons and antidotes. In the eighth century, a pharmacy was founded in Baghdad.
Since the ninth century, a medical school has been operating in the city of Salerno in the West, which later became the basis for training military doctors for the crusaders. The school trained specialists in four degrees: license, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. Until the 11th century, pharmacy was not a profession, and the first mention of the profession of a pharmacist appeared in the 12th century. The word “pharmacy” itself is of ancient Greek origin and literally means “specialized or general store or warehouse”.
In the XIII century, the first legislative restrictions appeared in the activities of doctors and pharmacists: it was forbidden for doctors to profit from drugs for their patients, and it was forbidden for pharmacists to treat patients; regulatory rules for dispensing drugs and poisons were formed, as well as some general rules for the activities of pharmacies. Special pharmaceutical training was organized, the need for standardization of drugs was recognized.
Compared to natural medicine, scientific medicine is still young. It is two hundred years old. All its actions are under the constant control of the public and management structures, which in some cases significantly reduces the freedom of search and experiment. Almost all means and methods of treatment that seem strange to scientists are contradicted by modern scientific reason.
Synthesized drugs do not immediately show all their side effects, negative and positive (even with careful clinical trials). They are sometimes found after decades of mass application. Modern medicine is increasingly turning into a powerful, comprehensively equipped repair base of human bodies. Many diseases have well-developed technologies that guarantee success with a high degree of probability. All this leads to the fact that the classical requirement of medicine (to treat not a disease but a patient in all of his or her unique personality) is becoming less and less common in practice. But scientific medicine has allowed successful dealing with severe chronic diseases that cannot be cured by any alternative medicine. It was Western-type scientific medicine that made it possible to eliminate a number of severe epidemics, confidently cure many remaining ailments and really alleviate the suffering of any kind of patients. None of this could be achieveed by folk medicine for all the millennia of its existence. Moreover, only scientifically explaining the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the body allows discussing realistically the problems of maintaining health, prolonging the age of life without serious illnesses.