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That which doesn’t kill you...check the dosage.

30 Jul 2017 11:21 #1 by ARLewis
ARLewis ► That which doesn’t kill you...check the dosage.
That which doesn’t kill you...check the dosage.

I’ve actually been quite sick lately and even Prof. Slate had forbidden me from working on anything but resting and getting well. He told me I was not allowed to even think about going near my books, the documents room or even the Afterlife until I could stand up and walk to get my own glass of water. (I tried to show him up and got halfway across the floor before I fell down and broke the glass I was carrying). (no, it wasn’t funny).

When all I had to think about was being sick, since I was only allowed to have god awful paperbacks, I found myself thinking, “Am I going to get a flu shot this year?” (I know, out of the blue, right?) While ignoring the irony, my brain proceeded to travel down the road of medical advancements with vaccines, chemotherapy, and every other supposedly bad thing that we do to ourselves in order to fix something and I had the thought of “Sola dosis facit venenum” which is just the shortened version of “Alle Dinge sind Gift und nichts ist ohne Gift, allein die Dosis macht es, dass ein Ding kein Gift ist.” If you cannot speak latin or german, for which that’s why I am here, check the memories for a man named Paracelsus. He would have told you in latin, “The dose makes the poison,” and in german “All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose makes it that a thing is not a poison”.

Paracelsus was born Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim to a physician and alchemist who attended to the pilgrims and inhabitants of a cloister in Villach, Carinthia. His theological and humanistic studies growing up did not keep him from at least partially following in his father’s footsteps as he went to university to study medicine. However, after his doctorate, Paracelsus traveled a good portion of Europe as an itinerant physician. He gathered together medical knowledge both modern and historical and came to conclusions that angered physicians around the continent. He criticized everything from fees they charged to dosages of some medicines. He wanted to teach in German instead of only in Latin so more common folk would also be able to learn. He attacked almost everything conventional and even burned old medical texts just to prove the point that they were old, outdated, and not worth the paper they were written on.

Paracelsus experimented heavily which helped him pioneer the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. His theory was that such was the main way one can learn about the human body. He was actually the first to pen the “zinc” for the element and also created laudanum, primarily used as a painkiller. It is around these ideas and contributions that the latin and german phrases earlier given came from which can be boiled down into “everything is poisonous, but it is the dosage that can kill.” However, he believed that properly dosing the poison can strengthen if not cure the body.

Even though his headstrong nature alienated him from most of the colleagues at the time and even got him kicked out of a university or two, he still believed that one had to study the natural sciences, especially chemistry, in order to truly understand how the human body works. He revised old manuscripts and even wrote his own. His scientific knowledge and willingness to experiment and accept things like astrology and combine them all brought him no end of trouble. But it also brought him willing to even help villages in the grip of the plague in the 16th century, garnering him almost heroic status throughout Europe.

So yes, I think in Latin and German when I’m sick. Who doesn’t. I will however be grateful for bull headed thinking when next….NO...if I ever, knock on wood, get sick again or if ever something worse happens to me and I’m able to get better because of what Paracelsus believed that with simple experimentation, the knowledge of the workings of the human body will be realised. I’d rather take small doses of that which could kill me to get well rather than be separated from my books again. So, I’ll get up and get my own glass of water thank you...after I clean up the glass from my last attempt.


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