It was in the seventeenth century that modern medicine began with the publication of Sir William Harvey's classic text Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis. He introduced the scientific method, and medicine had finally and forever ascended from the Dark Ages.
The first true great anatomic illustrations were by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who was an acclaimed inventor, engineer, and architect prior to his achieving fame as an artist. Illustrations that follow from "De humani corporis fabrica libri septem" by Andreas Vesalius mark the beginning of modern medicine since they are the result of independent investigation.
The first to investigate anatomy through dissection was Mondino de Cuzzi (1275-1326) of Bolognia when he dissected a human cadaver in about 1315, this famous lesson now a landmark in the history of medicine.
The newly discovered wonder of radioactivity in the early twentieth century awaited a commercial application which was eagerly supplied by innovative entrepreneurs.
Light therapy has always been considered a healing force, and because they felt that light was the source of life, some Egyptian cults worshipped the sun and the healing ability of light. This modality was rediscovered by JH Kellogg in his "Light Therapeutics" (1910): "To be able to harness this force, to control it, and to focus it upon any desired organ or function of the body, is one of the newest and greatest triumphs of modern therapeutics.”
The explosion of technology and the discovery of the many applications of electricity in the early twentieth century provided opportunities for entrepreneurs who were not burdened by having to prove the safety or efficacy of their therapeutic theories.
There has been a long history of confusion regarding the efficacy of various therapeutic regimens, a fact that has often led to the success of disreputable physicians: a) many patients improve spontaneously no matter what the therapy, b) up to one third will feel better by placebo effect alone, and c), the therapist's convincing conclusion that a bad outcome resulted from the patient's sinful behavior or tardiness in seeking medical help.
During the nineteenth century, great craftsmen turned their attention to the production of dental furniture as manufacturers attempted to meet the needs of a growing population that was more able to afford dental care.
“His instruments of torture, called by courtesy dental tools, were many and varied. He was very skillful in his profession and when he took a job he did it in first-class style. The dental tools are simply copies in miniature of articles used in the Spanish inquisition and on refractory prisoners in the Tower of London. There are monkey wrenches, raspers, files, gouges, cleavers, pickes, squeezers, drills, daggers, little crowbars, punches, chisels, pincers, and long wire feelers with prehensile, palpitating tips, that can reach down through the roots of a throbbing tooth and fish up a yell from your inner consciousness. When a painstaking dentist cannot hurt you with the cold steel, he lights a small alcohol lamp and heats one of his little spades red hot, and hovers over you with an expectant smile. Then he deftly inserts this into your mouth and when you give a yell he says, ‘Does that hurt?’”
from the Chicago Herald
The demand for dentures dramatically increased in the mid nineteenth century after the discovery of anesthesia made relatively painless extractions possible.