INSIGHTS INTO AVICENNA’S KNOWLEDGE OF GASTROINTESTINAL MEDICINE AND HIS ACCOUNT OF AN ENEMA DEVICE
Avicenna (980-1037 AD), also known as Sheikh or-Raeis, was an Muslim philosopher, physician, surgeon, astronomer, politician, encyclopedist, and mathematician. Avicenna’s writings comprise of five books, know as the Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine) and the canon covers a wide variety of medical issues. This canon of medicine was the main reference for medical education in Western countries up until the 16th century and in the Middle East until the 19th century. Several chapters of the 3rd book of the Canon are devoted to a detailed description of gastrointestinal diseases including bowel obstruction, hemorrhoids anal fissures, perianal fistulas and perianal itching. Additionally, that same volume contains an illustration of an enema device. The aim of this paper was to present a brief review of Avicenna’s 11th century views on bowel obstruction and to present his description of an enema device that has remained relatively unnoticed until now. Finally, this article illustrates similarities between Avicenna’s explanation and modern medical science that celebrate Avicenna as an important contributor to medieval knowledge on gastrointestinal diseases, the science of which has been passed on to later generations.
Key words: Avicenna; Canon Medicinae; Gastrointestinal Diseases