Animadiversionum et Cautionum Medicarum, 1650

Animadiversionum et Cautionum Medicarum, 1650




Ludovico Settalla (Ludovici Septali) (1552-1633)

Born and raised in Milan, Settala Ludovico was the son of Franzeschi Settala, a physician. Educated at the University of Pavia, Lombardia, His interest in natural philosophy led him to study medicine. He graduated in 1571. Two years later, he became Professor of Medicine in Pavia. He was appointed the physician-general by Philip IV of Milan. He specialized in problems of public hygiene. As a young doctor, he treated the sick during the plague that swept Milan in 1576 and did much in the region to prevent contagion and heal the sick during the outbreak of 1630, though he himself succumbed and remained handicapped.

He published his De peste et pestiferis affectibus libri quinque in 1622 and followed that in 1630 with his Della preservazione della peste. Settala published Latin commentaries on Hippocrates, and his interest in social issues led to the publication of a Latin work on the management of the family (1626).

Animadversion et Cautionum Medicarum was written for medical students. Initially, a smaller volume with seven chapters was published in 1626. Following his death, a posthumous enlarged edition with nine chapters was published (our copy).

It is relevant to note that the first version was published two years before William Harvey’s De Motu Cordis on blood circulation. Settala was still following the Humoral Theory of disease, hence his focus on blood, bile, and other humors.

The book is divided into nine parts. The first part focuses on observations and cautions that belong to the medical student, including the responsibilities of a physician. He refers to patients as “worshippers”. The second part discusses the importance of maintaining a proper and balanced diet. He explains that people who eat “delicious” food will get sicker and weaker and be unable to defeat their disease. The third part focuses on those that compound pharmaceuticals. Settala discusses how patients can get accustomed to medications if they take them for a long period of time. The fourth part is about the appearance of blood. Settala discusses the different colors blood can have and what they mean. For example, he says he will die soon if the patient’s blood is black. The fifth part is concerned with fever management. He says that they should avoid rhubarb. Patients who are vomiting should drink more water to prevent uncomfortable acidity. The sixth part is about diseases of the head. Recommends vinegar and warming the head in case of a headache. The seventh part is about other diseases. Setalla mentions that opioids and opiates are to be avoided in the case of stomach pain; however, if given in small amounts in the case of inflammatory pain, they can be soothing.. The eighth part is information on the treatment of wounds. Wounds need to be taken care of twice a day by cleaning them out, coating them with medicine, and changing the dressings to fresh linens. Lastly, the ninth part pertains to the compounding of medications.

Based on research done by Mary Girgis, class of 2026, as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2022-2023. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Version

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