What Did Ancient Greece Do for Medicine?

In ancient Greece, medicine was a field that greatly flourished and laid the foundation for modern medical practices. The Greeks made significant contributions to various aspects of medicine, including anatomy, surgery, pharmacology, and public health.


The ancient Greeks were among the first to study the human body systematically. One of the most influential figures in Greek medicine was Hippocrates, often referred to as the ‘Father of Medicine’.

He emphasized the importance of observing and recording symptoms in order to make accurate diagnoses. Hippocrates also categorically rejected supernatural explanations for diseases and instead focused on finding natural causes.

Hippocratic Oath:

The Hippocratic Oath is still taken by doctors today and reflects the ethical principles laid down by Hippocrates. It emphasizes patient care and confidentiality, setting a standard for medical ethics that remains relevant in modern times.


Ancient Greek physicians developed surgical techniques that were remarkable for their time. They performed various procedures such as wound suturing, amputations, and even eye surgeries. One of the most well-known surgeons of ancient Greece was Herophilus who conducted extensive dissections on human bodies to gain a deeper understanding of anatomy.

Herophilus’s Discoveries:

  • Nerves: Herophilus identified and described many nerves in the human body, advancing our knowledge of how they function.
  • Brain Functions: He recognized that the brain is responsible for controlling our senses and movements, challenging prevailing beliefs at the time.


Ancient Greek physicians extensively used herbal remedies for treating ailments. They believed that plants possessed medicinal properties that could be harnessed to promote healing.

The Greek physician Dioscorides compiled a comprehensive book called ‘De Materia Medica’, which described over 600 plants and their therapeutic uses. This work became a valuable resource for pharmacological studies for centuries to come.

Public Health:

Ancient Greece recognized the importance of public health measures to prevent the spread of diseases. The concept of hygiene was given great importance, and efforts were made to ensure clean water supply, proper waste disposal, and sanitation practices.

Centers of Healing:

Around 400 BCE, temples dedicated to the god Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, were built across Greece. These centers served as places where patients could receive medical treatment and care. They were staffed with skilled physicians and offered treatments such as baths, massages, and herbal remedies.

In conclusion, ancient Greece made significant contributions to medicine that continue to impact modern healthcare practices. Their emphasis on observation, surgical techniques, herbal remedies, public health measures, and ethical principles laid a strong foundation for future advancements in medicine.