What Was Medicine Like in Ancient Greece?

Medicine has come a long way since ancient times. In today’s world, we have access to advanced medical technologies and modern drugs that can cure diseases that were once considered fatal.

But what was medicine like in ancient Greece? Let’s delve deeper into the medical practices of this ancient civilization.

The Greek Philosophy of Medicine

The Greeks believed that health was a result of the balance between the body, mind, and environment. They believed that the human body had four essential fluids or “humors” – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. The imbalance of these fluids was thought to be the root cause of illness.

The Role of Physicians in Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, the practice of medicine was not limited to physicians alone. Anyone with some knowledge of herbs and remedies could practice medicine. However, physicians were highly respected in society and were expected to undergo rigorous training before practicing medicine.

Medical Treatments in Ancient Greece

The Greeks used a variety of methods to treat illnesses. These included herbal medicines, dietary changes, massage therapy, and surgery.

  • Herbal Medicines: The Greeks believed that plants had medicinal properties that could help cure diseases. They used herbs such as chamomile for stomach ailments and garlic for infections.
  • Dietary Changes: The Greeks believed that food played a crucial role in maintaining good health.

    They recommended specific diets for different ailments.

  • Massage Therapy: Massage therapy was used to relieve pain and improve circulation.
  • Surgery: The Greeks performed surgeries such as amputations and removals of tumors. However, surgical procedures were only performed in extreme cases as they carried a high risk of infection.

The Hippocratic Oath

The most famous physician of ancient Greece was Hippocrates, who is widely regarded as the father of modern medicine. He believed that physicians should uphold certain ethical standards and made his students take the “Hippocratic Oath.” This oath required physicians to swear to practice medicine ethically and honestly.


In conclusion, medicine in ancient Greece was based on the belief that health was a result of the balance between the body, mind, and environment. The Greeks used a variety of methods to treat illnesses and believed in upholding ethical standards in medical practice. While we have come a long way in terms of medical advancements, we can still learn from the ancient Greeks’ philosophy towards medicine.