Although most people know him as Paracelsus, his real name was Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. He was one of the most interesting divr in the history of medicine and science. He was considered by some to be a little crazy, visionary and no doubt very imaginative.
One of Paracelsu’s most important characteristics was his great intellectual ambition. He was very eager to find the wise stones, an unknown substance that allegedly made it possible to convert lead into gold. He also wanted to find the elixir of youth to give eternal youth, and he worked incredibly hard to achieve it.
In the midst of his amazing adventures, Paracelsus became an extraordinary scientist. Many consider him the father of toxicology and pharmacology. One could say that he was a kind of hybrid between magician and scientist. He was certainly ahead of his time when he stood by his mythical and mystical beliefs.
The beginning of a genius
Paracelsus was born in 1493 in an area close to what is now Zurich, Switzerland. Several in his family were doctors, including his father, and this greatly affected his interest in this discipline.
In his youth, he worked as a mine analyst. This gave him considerable knowledge of minerals, which was later crucial in his work. When he was 16 years old, he went to Basel University. A few years later, he received a doctorate from Ferrara University in Italy.
Paracelsus was convinced that medicine was not something that could be taught in an institution. From the very beginning, he was very critical of the official medicine of his time. He questioned Hippocrates, Avicenna, and Galen. Because of this, his colleagues were afraid of him.
Paracelsus, an experimental man
Very early on, Paracelsus chose to experiment on its own and work directly with the sick. This led to a bad reputation among doctors. People also judged him on his physical appearance. He was short, bald and overweight, which led many people to reject him. Perhaps for this reason, this genius preferred to be in the company of the most defenseless.
The experiments and innovative methods that he began to apply successfully led to a lot of interrogation. People said he made a pact with the devil. Popularly he became known as “The Cursed Doctor”. They accused him of magic and sorcery, even though he believed deeply in God.
The tension between him and his colleagues and other authorities led to him becoming a wandering man. It did not take long for him to start conflicts with those around him, no matter where he went, so he would leave the place and go somewhere else again. However, he was known to be a very good doctor.
Alchemy and chemistry
Paracelsus used minerals and chemicals to treat disease. It was something no one else did at the time. This enabled him to treat patients who had incurable diseases at the time.
There is evidence that he successfully treated cases of epilepsy, leprosy and arthritis. He was the first doctor to identify syphilis and suggested treating it with mercury.
This great scientist also invented laudanum. This was one of the first chemical analgesics ever known. In addition, he examined toxins in detail and formulated a saying that still exists today: “Toxicity is determined by the dose”.
Unlike the other doctors of his time, Paracelsus was very close to his patients. He also believed that his knowledge should be public. For that reason, he gave speeches for the community and explained his science in simple language.
Paracelsus approach to medicine
Paracelsus found that medicine had four major pillars: science, astronomy, chemistry, and love. He believed that plants and minerals did not heal on their own. Instead of being effective, they needed goodness and inspiration from God.
Unlike his colleagues, he certainly believed in the good of operations. At that time, barbers were the only ones performing operations, and only under very specific circumstances. Centuries later, many physicians felt inspired by their methods.
It is important to note that not every doctor was his enemy. Among his admirers was none other than Erasmus of Rotterdam, to whom he was a personal physician and friend. A German prince also gave him his protection.
Paracelsus died at the young age of 47, murdered by a group of thugs who wanted to steal from him. But it was a waste of their time, for he had already donated all his possessions to the poor.