A New Translation of the 11th-Century Canon with Practical Applications for Integrative Health Care
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About Avicenna’s Medicine
The first contemporary translation of the 1,000-year-old text at the foundation of modern medicine and biology
• Presents the actual words of Avicenna translated directly from the original Arabic, removing the inaccuracies and errors of most translators
• Explains current medical interpretations and ways to apply Avicenna’s concepts today, particularly for individualized medicine
• Reveals how Avicenna’s understanding of the “humors” corresponds directly with the biomedical classes known today as proteins, lipids, and organic acids
A millennium after his life, Avicenna remains one of the most highly regarded physicians of all time. His Canon of Medicine, also known as the Qanun, is one of the most famous and influential books in the history of medicine, forming the basis for our modern understanding of human health and disease. It focused not simply on the treatment of symptoms, but on finding the cause of illness through humoral diagnosis—a method still used in traditional Unani and Ayurvedic medicines in India.
Originally written in Arabic, Avicenna’s Canon was long ago translated into Latin, Persian, and Urdu, yet many of the inaccuracies from those first translations linger in current English translations. Translated directly from the original Arabic, this volume includes detailed commentary to explain current biomedical interpretations of Avicenna’s theories and ways to apply his treatments today, particularly for individualized medicine. It shows how Avicenna’s understanding of the humors corresponds directly with the biomedical definition of proteins, lipids, and organic acids: the nutrient building blocks of our blood and body. With this new translation of the first volume of his monumental work, Avicenna’s Canon becomes just as relevant today as it was 1,000 years ago.
About the Author(s) of Avicenna’s Medicine
Mones Abu-Asab, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Hakima Amri, Ph.D., is associate professor of biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology at Georgetown University and cofounder and codirector of Georgetown’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine Graduate Program. Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D., is adjunct professor of pharmacology and physiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the founding director of the Policy Institute for Integrative Medicine in Washington, D.C.
Praise for Avicenna’s Medicine
“Avicenna’s Canon is not only the most important and influential single text in the history of medicine, it is also the main work of reference for a major traditional school of medicine that is still alive and has much to teach us today. The present translation, Avicenna’s Medicine, is welcome not only because it makes many of the ideas of the Canon accessible in English but also because it deals with practical applications of its principles for those drawn to holistic or integrative medicine wherever they might be.”
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author of Science and Civilization in Islam and professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University
“A book like this is extremely timely. ..It is a brilliant illustration, on a solid scientific basis, of what a traditional medical system can bring to the 21st century medicine and medical debates. It is certainly not an easy read, but one that requires a pen in hand and time to reflect upon the ideas expressed within. This exercise of interpretation is a good introduction to traditional medicine thinking that will be of interest to students, scholars, and the intellectually curious.”
Herbalgram, Alain Touwaide, Ph.D., July 2014
“The next time you visit your physician, whisper a prayer of thanks to Avicenna, because many of the foundations of modern medicine--empirical observation, objectivity, and rationalism--surfaced through his towering genius a millennium ago. Avicenna’s Medicine is a valuable link in medicine’s rich history. As the authors make clear in this marvelous translation, Avicenna’s relevance to our era has not been exhausted.”
Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words and One Mind
“Avicenna’s Medicine represents a breath of fresh air to those interested in the history of Western medicine. It is presented in a consistently clear and concise form that makes Avicenna’s writings accessible to the English reader. In addition, a number of chapters at the beginning of the book act as a primer in the principles of Graeco-Arabic Medicine. Avicenna’s Medicine is one of the most interesting and exciting volumes that has come my way in a long time. It provides insight into a medicine that is a historical part of the development of modern Western medicine and an ethnic traditional medicine that is still more or less practiced on the Indian subcontinent and in some parts of the Middle East. This may well serve to rekindle a resurgence of interest in Avicenna’s medicine in the West; something it surely deserves.”
Paul Hysen, Ph.D., Doctor of Naturopathy and Chiropractic
“While it is intended for a medical audience, Avicenna’s Medicine is accessible to anyone who is interested in a holistic approach to health...”
Renee Twombly, Georgetown Medical Center Journal, August 2013