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Sydenham, Thomas

english war physician london

[ sid enam] (1624–89) English physician: made early studies in epidemiology.

After 2 months as a student at Oxford, Sydenham left to join the Parliamentary army, and to serve in the Civil War under his older brother (who was commander-in-chief in Dorset). After 3 years he returned to his studies and graduated in 1648, but in 1651 was again in the war as a captain of horse. He was wounded at the battle of Worcester, and in 1655 he married and began his career as a London physician. He began there his researches on smallpox and other fevers, then prevalent in London. He pioneered the use of quinine to treat malaria, opium for pain relief and iron compounds in anaemia. His scientific approach to the natural history of disease was new and valuable; he saw infections as specific entities, best treated conservatively, as described in his influential book The Method of Treating Fevers (1666), which is dedicated to his friend . He is the major 17th-c clinician; ‘the English Hippocrates’.

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