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Medicine (British English //; American English //) is the science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. The word medicine is derived from Latin medicus, meaning "a physician". Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness.
Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, prostheses, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.
Medicine has existed for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.
Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine. They remain commonly used with or instead of scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine. For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is "variable and inconsistent" for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, treatments outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery.
- "Medicine, n.1". OED Online. Oxford University Press. September 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- "Medicine". Oxford Dictionaries Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Etymology: Latin: medicina, from ars medicina "the medical art", from medicus "physician". (Etym.Online) Cf. mederi "to heal", etym. "know the best course for," from PIE base *med- "to measure, limit. Cf. Greek medos "counsel, plan", Avestan vi-mad "physician"
- "Medicine" Online Etymology Dictionary
- "Dictionary, medicine". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Colquhoun, D; Novella S (2013). "Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo: the end of a myth" (PDF). Anesthesia & Analgesia 116 (6): 1360–1363. doi:10.1213/ANE.0b013e31828f2d5e. PMID 23709076.
- "Acupuncture (PDQ®)". National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
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