The Medicine Portal

Marble statue of Asclephius on a pedestal, symbol of medicine in Western medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has been around for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine, though they do not fall within the modern definition of “medicine” which is based in medical science. Traditional medicine and folk medicine remain commonly used with, or instead of, scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine (meaning “[something] other than medicine”, from Latin alter, “other”). For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, alternative treatments outside the bounds not just of scientific medicine, but also outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. This can encompass an array of practices and practitioners, irrespective of whether they are prescientific (traditional medicine and folk medicine) or modern pseudo-scientific, including chiropractic which rejects modern scientific germ theory of disease (instead believing without evidence that human diseases are caused by invisible subluxation of the bones, predominantly of the spine and less so of other bones), with just over half of chiropractors also rejecting the science of immunization. Read more...

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Doxorubicin–DNA complex 1D12.png

Doxorubicin (trade name Adriamycin) or hydroxyldaunorubicin is a DNA-interacting drug widely used in chemotherapy. It is an anthracycline antibiotic and structurely closely related to daunomycin, and also intercalates DNA. It is commonly used in the treatment of a wide range of cancers. The drug is administered by injection, and may be sold under the brand names Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF, or Rubex. Doxil is a liposome-encapsulated dosage form of doxorubicin made by Ben Venue Laboratories for Johnson & Johnson. The main benefits of this form are a reduction in cardiotoxicity. (More...)

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European population substructure.png
Factor Correspondence Analysis Comparing Different Individuals from European Ancestry Groups. The analysis was performed using 749 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) informative for European substructure (selected from a genome-wide panel of more than 5700 SNPs).

Photo credit: Seldin MF, Shigeta R, Villoslada P, Selmi C, Tuomilehto J, et al. (2006) European Population Substructure: Clustering of Northern and Southern Populations. PLoS Genet 2(9): e143 Fig. 4(b)

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  • ...the brain itself is not sensitive to pain, because it lacks pain-sensitive nerve fibers? Several areas of the head can hurt, including a network of nerves which extends over the scalp and certain nerves in the face, mouth, and throat.
  • ...that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may sometimes have an acute onset and develop after an infectious illness, and that this "Post infectious IBS" (IBS-PI) is drawing much clinical investigation?

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