Paracelsus was a Swiss German physician known for recognizing the relevance of chemistry in medicine and treating patients using unusual treatments. He was the developer of new chemical medicines including iron, mercury, sulphur, and copper-sulphate, according to the ‘London Pharmacopoeia.’ He was also known for writing the book ‘Der grossen Wundartzney,’ or ‘The Great Surgery Book,’ and for describing syphilis in layman’s terms. He was the first to argue that silicosis, or’miner’s illness,’ was caused by inhaling vapors produced by various metals inside mines, rather than by the curse of’mountain spirits’ for sins done by the miners. His ideas that giving a person little dosages of the things that made him sick in the first place may also cure him evolved into current homeopathy. In 1534, he is also credited with curing the plague in Stertzing by delivering an oral treatment made of bread containing a minute portion of the patient’s excreta, which he extracted with a needle point. He was the first to link goiter to minerals containing lead as a major component. He had also made a contribution to the field of psychiatry by discovering innovative ways to treat psychological disorders.
Childhood and Adolescence
On December 17, 1493, Paracelsus was born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheimin Sihlbrucke near Einsiendeln, Switzerland.
Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim, an impoverished Swabian doctor, and chemist who worked as a physician at the Benedictine convent in Einsiedeln was his father.
Elsa Oschner, a Swiss bondswoman at the abbey of Einsiedeln, was his mother.
In his boyhood, he was known as Theophrastus, and he was nine years old when his mother died.
In 1502 he and his father relocated to Villach, Carinthia, which was in Southern Austria, when his mother died. His father, who took after the residents of the monastery and the pilgrims who came there, taught him medicine, botany, and geology. He also learned a great deal about theology from the clergy of Lavanttal’s ‘St. Paul’s Abbey’ and its convent school.
He studied at the ‘Bergschule’ in Villach, where young pupils were taught how to supervise mining operations using gold, iron, mercury, tin, alum, and copper-sulfate ores. A family of affluent bankers named Fuggers had founded this school, where his father also taught chemistry theory and practice.
As he learned more about the many metals that existed on Earth and watched how they were taken from their respective ores by smelting, he began to question if gold could indeed be created from lead, as many alchemists believed at the time. These classes taught him metallurgy and chemistry, which eventually helped him develop chemotherapy-related discoveries.
In 1507, he hopped from university to university across Europe in quest of a well-known and dedicated professor as well as a fascinating subject to study.
He attended the universities of Basel, Tubingen, Wittenberg, Heidelberg, Leipzig, and Cologne over the next five years, but was dissatisfied with each one.
He thought that gypsies, sorcerers, bandits, outlaws, innkeepers, barbers, and teamsters could educate him more than any university could. He believed their expertise was more practical than the scholastic teachings of well-known medical professionals of the day, such as Galen, Aristotle, and Avicenna.
At the age of 16, he enrolled at the ‘University of Basel,’ and then transferred to the ‘University of Vienna,’ where he earned a degree in medicine in 1510.
He then went to Italy’s ‘University of Ferrara,’ where he debunked the concept that the planets and stars regulated the human body. In 1516, he got a doctorate from the ‘University of Ferrara.’
Career of Paracelsus
Following the completion of his doctorate, Paracelsus embarked on a voyage across Europe, stopping in Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, Poland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Prussia, and Tartary.
When he later traveled to Russia, the Tartars kidnapped him. He was able to fly them and made his way to Lithuania, then to Hungary in the south.
In 1521, he became an army surgeon in the Venetian army and traveled to Arabia, Egypt, the Holy Land, and eventually Constantinople.
Wherever he traveled, he met and spoke with specialists and knowledgeable people who could teach him more about practical alchemy and the most effective ways to treat patients, as well as how to use nature’s latent forces to heal them.
Because of his multiple miraculous cures, which the people already knew about, Paracelsus returned to Villach in 1524 and was appointed as the town physician. He was also appointed as a lecturer in medicine at Switzerland’s ‘University of Basel.’ His medical classes drew students from all throughout Europe.
He reached the pinnacle of his career at Basel, where he denounced the use of ineffectual pills, potions, salves, balms, and other substances that obstruct nature’s ability to heal wounds.
He became a citizen of Strasbourg in 1526 and attempted to start his own profession. During this period, he was summoned to attend to Johann Froben, a well-known printer, and publisher who was ill. Johann was cured by Paracelsus.
Erasmus von Rotterdam, a Renaissance Dutch humanist, had seen Paracelsus’ medical abilities and proposed to start a mutual discourse on theological and medical issues.
By 1528, Paracelsus had enraged the doctors, magistrates, and apothecaries in Basel, and was forced to flee to Colmar, Upper Alsace, about fifty miles north of Basel.
During the next eight years, he went across the country, staying with friends and revising and creating new works, including the book on surgery that made him famous for the second time.
In 1529, he went to Nuremberg, Beritzhausen, and Amberg; in 1531, he went to St. Gall and Innsbruck; in 1534, he went to Sterzing and Meran; in 1535, he went to Augsburg; and in 1537, he went to Presburg and Vienna.
In May 1538, Paracelsus traveled to Villach to see his father, only to discover that he had died four years before. In the same year, he was expelled from Basel.
The Major Projects
In 1530, he published a clinical description of syphilis in which he claimed that the condition could be treated by ingesting mercury compounds in controlled amounts.
In 1536, Paracelsus wrote ‘Der Grossen Wundartzney,’ a book on surgery that was the first of its type at the time. It aided him in regaining his reputation at the ‘University of Basel.’
The majority of Paracelsus’ work was thought to be unsuitable and in violation of established norms, but in 1618, the ‘Royal College of Physicians in London ultimately released a new Pharmacopeia that included some of his treatments.
Personal History and Legacy
Paracelsus had a reputation for igniting debates. Paracelsus burned the books of the Arab physician Avicenna and the Greek physician Galen in front of the university on June 24, 1527, evoking the memory of Dr. Martin Luther, who on December 10, 1520, burned a papal bull threatening ex-communication in front of the Elster Gate in Wittenberg, Germany.
After a brief illness while visiting Prince Palatine, Duke Ernst of Bavaria, Paracelsus died on September 24, 1541, in Salzburg, Austria, at the age of 47.
The criticism of scholastic doctrines in science, medicine, and theology is his most important legacy. Despite the fact that his beliefs do not correspond to current scientific thinking, they are responsible for introducing a more dynamic approach to scientific approaches in treating patients with physical or mental diseases.
Paracelsus was a haughty and tough man who enjoyed mocking other physicians. Many other physicians in Europe disliked and despised him as a result of his attitude.
He was the creator of toxicology and gave the metal zinc its name naming it ‘zincum.’
For treating numerous patients with his unusual treatments as if by magic, he was dubbed the “Devil’s physician.”
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