Aztec Medical Practices Essay

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When the Spaniards reached the land that would become New Spain they found a culture with a sophisticated medical practice. Aztec physicians and healers had a wealth of botanical knowledge and were also capable of performing surgeries. Anyone making the assumption that the European medical tradition the Spaniards brought with them to the New World was in any way more advanced would be making an egregious error. The medicine practiced by the Aztecs was far superior to the medicine practiced by their conquerors. First, an understanding of the medical traditions the conquering Spaniards were coming from is necessary. Nowhere in Europe had a more regulated practice of medicine than Spain during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Similar to medical training in the modern United States, would-be physicians had to obtain a four-year university degree and a four-year medical degree, as well as complete what was the equivalent of a two-year residency practicing alongside a licensed physician. The predominant framework taught in Spanish medical schools for thinking about illness was humoral medicine. The fundamental idea of humoral medicine was that illness was…show more content…
While it may not be fair to credit the Aztecs with the use of herbs as a point of superiority, since the biodiversity was much grander in the New World than in Spain, they without a doubt had a greater understanding of their importance in medicine. The Aztecs, under Moctezuma I, had implemented vast botanical gardens dedicated to experimenting with the usage of herbs for medicine, this can perhaps be viewed as one of the first instances of government supported scientific research. This was years before any kingdom in Europe had come up with the same idea. The creation of these gardens with the express intent of scientific research is noteworthy when compared to the Spanish Inquisition’s wholesale attack on medical
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