Institutiones Medicae in Usus Annuae Exercitationis Domesticos (1752)

Herman Boerhaave, (1668-1738)

     

Institutiones Medicae in Usus Annuae Exercitationis Domesticos (1752)

   

     

Herman Boerhaave, (1668-1738)

Hermann Boerhaave was born in Voorhout, near Leyden, on December 31, 1668. The son of a clergyman, Hermann got an excellent education in the classics, logic, metaphysics, natural philosophy, and Latin in Leyden. Subsequently, he studied chemistry, botany, anatomy, and physic at the University of Harderwick. In 1690 he got a degree in philosophy and later a medical degree in 1693. He spoke Latin, English, French, German, and Dutch, played the violin, and had a great singing voice.

He started lecturing in 1701, teaching "physics" (medicine). After his reputation as an extraordinary lecturer, he was courted by multiple universities (Leyden, Gröningen). Boerhaave thought about the human body governed by the laws of statics and hydraulics and the operation of chemistry. His university career made him more of a lecturer and less of a practitioner. He is considered the father of modern university medical teachers. In 1709 he succeeded Dr. Hotton as professor of medicine at the University of Leyden. He became the chair of botany, a position that allowed him to focus on the medicinal value of plants and herbs. In 1714 he became the Rector of the University of Leyden. At the same time, he held the presidency of the Chirurgical College, which oversaw physicians and surgeons. Boerhaave was one of the most famous medical teachers of all time. Students flocked to his lectures. His lecture notes, Praelectiones Academicae, were published both by him and as unauthorized copies by many of his pupils.

As a strict follower of Hippocrates, he considered the patient's well-being above everything else. He showed the connection between symptoms and lesions among many of his innovations. He was the first to use a thermometer in clinical practice. His vast knowledge earned him the nickname "the Dutch Hippocrates".

Boerhaave was a prolific writer.  His lectures were collated in published volumes. His many works include Oratio academica qua probatur, bene intellectam a Cicerone et confutatam esse sententiam Epicuri de summo bono (Leiden, 1688), Het Nut der Mechanistische Methode in de Geneeskunde (Leiden, 1703), Institutiones medicae (Leiden, 1708), the current volume, and De Viribus Medicamentorum (1720).   The 1752 edition of Institutiones Medicae is the 7th and the first published after Boerhaave's death. The volume divides medicine into five areas:

1. ΦΙΣΙΟΛΟΓΙΑ (Physiology - Oeconomia animalis); 2. ΠΑΘΟΛΟΓΙΑ - Pathology; 3. ΣΗΜΕΙΩΤΙΚΗ (Semeiotic - Diagnosis); 4. ΥΓΙΕΙΝΗ - (Hygiene - Prevention); 5. ΘΕΡΑΠΕΥΤΙΚΗ - Therapeutics and explores each area systematically. His reference section has 76 titles, including Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, Andrea Malpighi, Fabricius Aquapendente, Bartholin, and Anthony Leeuwenhoek.

Boerhaave died in 1738, at age 70, of pulmonary edema. He left to his daughter a fortune of two million florins.

Editorial notes by Dr. Andrew I. Spielman.

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