Preventive Medicine of Ancient Russia

  • Authors: Shugai S.S.1, Nenakhov I.G.1
  • Affiliations:
    1. Voronezh State Medical University named after N.N. Burdenko
  • Pages: 265-268
  • URL:

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The article discusses the methods of preventive medicine in Ancient Russia. The study is based on various historical sources, including the "History" of Herodotus, the "Izbornik of Svyatoslav" and the medical treatise of Evpraxia "Alimma"; describes the use of baths, soap-like substances, sulfur and embalming methods for disinfection in Russia. The article also contains information about the hygiene culture of Ancient Russia, including the use of wooden sidewalks, aqueducts and "House Building", documents outlining preventive measures common at that time. The study also discusses the contribution to the development of preventive medicine in Ancient Russia of such famous scientists and doctors as Danilo Samoilovich, Thomas Badger-Moiseev and Yuri Kotermak-Drohobych.

Full Text

Medical science in Russia was at a fairly high level of development in comparison with Western European medicine [1]. Our ancestors passed on their knowledge of treatment by various means from generation to generation. The Eastern Slavs used a wide range of herbal ingredients, such as nettle, honey, horseradish, wormwood, plantain, deer antlers and others, to prepare decoctions and potions [2].
Kievan Rus had close trade ties with the Byzantine Empire, which preserved many traditions of Ancient Rome, unlike Western European capitals. Thanks to these connections and the location of Byzantium on the Great Silk Road, medicines and ideas for the treatment of diseases were transported to the territory of Russia.
In addition, Constantinople was an important center of medical knowledge, where doctors from different countries and cultures met and exchanged their experiences. Russian doctors received a significant enrichment of their medical knowledge through communication with Chinese and Indian doctors who also came to Constantinople [3].
This publication discusses the methods of preventive and preventive medicine in Russia of the Middle Ages, based on available historical sources.
The goal is to provide complete information about the use of preventive and preventive medicine in Russia during the Middle Ages.
The main part.
From the work of Herodotus "History" you can find interesting information about hygienic practices used in Medieval Russia. The document describes the methods of using baths, detergents and sulfur for disinfection. According to the agreement concluded with Byzantium, Russian merchants had free access to the baths. The manuscript also contains information about embalming methods used in Russia at that time [4].
Another important source of information about preventive medicine in Ancient Russia is the "Izbornik Svyatoslav", written in 1073 and 1076. The manuscript contains information about astrology, medical botany, mineralogy, hygienic recommendations, as well as dietary and medical prescriptions. The "Izbornik" lists the most common diseases in Russia, and an attempt is being made to understand their causes, as well as to consider questions about the goals and objectives of medical treatment [5].
In the XII century, Prince Vladimir Monomakh and his granddaughter Evpraxia became prominent representatives of preventive medicine in Ancient Russia.
Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1053-1125) was a Russian ruler and military commander, a representative of the Rurik dynasty. Vladimir became Prince of Chernigov in 1078, and then in 1113 became Grand Duke of Kiev. Vladimir Monomakh was known for his military and political abilities, as well as for his cultural and spiritual activity. He wrote works on grammar and rhetoric, as well as essays on military strategy and religion.
Vladimir Monomakh called on his sons to take care of the younger and the sick, which was evidence of his concern for the health of the people. And Evpraxia, having a unique education, delved into the secrets of traditional medicine, studied medicinal plants and ointments, and was able to achieve great success in treating poor people. Thanks to her knowledge and sensitive heart, she became known as a "Do-gooder", which emphasized her moral approach to treatment [6].
In the 30s of the XII century, Evpraxia wrote a medical treatise "Alimma" ("Ointments"), which is considered the first scientific medical work created by a woman in Russia. Russian Russian "Alimma" was the first medical treatise written in Russian, and it is of no small importance as an initial contribution to the development of Russian medicine.
In Alimma, Epraxia describes various diseases and their symptoms, and also offers recipes for ointments and tinctures for their treatment. She also discusses various diagnostic methods, such as bloodletting and the use of hot and cold compresses. The treatise consisted of five parts, which gave a detailed description of hygiene methods, recommendations for the care of pregnant women, newborns and nutrition, as well as recipes for the treatment of skin and dental diseases. The treatise also provided descriptions of diseases of the "heart" and "stomach" with recommendations for their prevention [6].
The Alimma section is a theoretical section where Epraxia discusses the principles of medicine and the physiology of the human body. The "Ointments" describe specific recipes for ointments for the treatment of various diseases.
One of the most interesting aspects of Alimma is its philosophical component. Epraxia believed that all diseases have a spiritual cause, and that treatment should begin with spiritual purification. She also believed in using magical rites to cure diseases.
Despite its antiquity, "Alimma" is of great importance in the history of medicine. He is one of the earliest examples of medical literature in Russian and demonstrates considerable knowledge and experience in the field of medicine from Epraxia and other doctors of Ancient Russia.
In the XII-XIII centuries, knowledge of Greek-Byzantine medicine began to spread in Russia, including through the translation of the collection of sayings "Bees". This collection contained not only the statements of doctors and philosophers, but also life examples that are important for maintaining health [7]. Among the tips were such as regular visits to the doctor, observing moderation in diet and lifestyle, giving up bad habits, etc.
It is also worth noting that the translation of "Bees" was of significant importance for the development of medicine in Russia. This collection was the first source in which Russian doctors were able to get acquainted with the most modern methods of prevention and treatment at that time. For example, the collection contained information on how to treat headaches and other common diseases, as well as which plants can help with various ailments.
In addition, the "Bees" contained a number of ethical and moral principles related to maintaining health. For example, the collection recommended people to lead a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid diseases, and to work hard so as not to fall into poverty and suffering.
Discussion of the results. In ancient Russia, the practice of preventive medicine was widespread, which can be seen from many sources. One example was the use of baths and soap-like substances that helped people maintain cleanliness and hygiene of the body. Also, the inhabitants of Russia used various disinfection methods, such as surface treatment with sulfur and embalming methods, to prevent the spread of infections.
The importance of hygiene and health was closely connected with the religious beliefs and customs of Ancient Russia. For example, the church calendar determined the days when it was necessary to take baths and carry out other hygienic procedures. It was also common to use medicinal plants to treat various diseases and strengthen the immune system.
In addition, the importance of hygiene was especially high in conditions of frequent epidemics and lack of medical resources. The inhabitants of Russia not only tried to maintain their health, but also to help others, especially during periods of mass diseases. In addition, the use of medicinal plants and other methods of treatment helped to prevent the spread of diseases and reduce the number of cases. In general, the practice of preventive medicine was an important part of the life of the inhabitants of Ancient Russia and helped them maintain health and fight diseases.
Conclusions. The study of the practice of preventive medicine in Ancient Russia gives a valuable insight into the hygienic culture and medical knowledge of the people of Russia. Historical sources, including the "History" of Herodotus, the "Izbornik of Svyatoslav" and the medical treatise of Evpraxia "Alimma", tell about the use of various preventive measures, including hygienic practices, disinfection methods and medical treatment. Famous scientists and doctors such as Danilo Samoilovich, Thomas Badger-Moiseev and Yuri Kotermak-Drohobych also contributed to the development of preventive medicine in Russia during the Late Middle Ages.
The manuscript also gives an idea of the role of women in medicine, demonstrated by Evpraxia, who was one of the first female medical writers in Russia. This study highlights the importance of preventive medicine methods and highlights the enduring value of traditional medical knowledge. Thus, it provides a basis for further research of preventive medicine methods in ancient cultures and their impact on modern healthcare practice.


About the authors

Sofia Sergeevna Shugai

Voronezh State Medical University named after N.N. Burdenko

ORCID iD: 0009-0004-3153-9030

student of the 1th year Faculty of Medicine and Prevention

Russian Federation, 10 Studentskaya str., Voronezh, 394036, Russia

Ivan Gennadievich Nenakhov

Voronezh State Medical University named after N.N. Burdenko

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7942-2844
SPIN-code: 9905-2934

Candidate of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor of the Department
of Hygienic Disciplines

Russian Federation, 10 Studentskaya str., Voronezh, 394036, Russia


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