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Iatrochemistry

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The concept of iatrochemistry refers to a historical stage of chemistry as a science, when it began to detach itself from alchemy and was linked to medicine. Iatrochemistry aimed to explain various physiological and pathological processes of the human organism, considering that health depended on the balance of supposed body fluids.

Paracelsus (1493-1541) is designated as the father of iatrochemistry. In the sixteenth century, the postulates of this scientist were considered avant-garde and, although they are already archaic today, they are still valued as precursors of current knowledge of biochemistry and pharmacology, for example.

Iatrochemistry is usually referred to as a link or a transition between alchemy (associated with esotericism) and chemistry. In other words: it would not have been possible to achieve a scientific development of chemistry without iatrochemistry and, before, without alchemy.

It was Paracelsus who argued that physiological and pathological processes were caused by chemical reactions. From this theory, many iatrochemicals appealed to the combination of various substances to prepare remedies.

The iatrochemistry, in this context, resorted to reductionism and tried to explain all the phenomena of life from chemistry. Continuing with this reasoning, he argued that the pathologies could be resolved chemically.

Ultimately, it can be said that iatrochemistry became obsolete when the medical practices of the modern era began to be forged. Despite this issue, they continue to value their historical contributions and relevance between the middle of the XVI century and half of the century XVII, specially in the region of Flanders.


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