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The Da Vinci Health Code

Did Leonardo da Vinci know as much about health as he did about art?

Everything Old Is New Again

"Holistic medicine was the drumbeat of health in the renaissance," says James Mahoney, DO, an osteopathic doctor in South Lake, Texas, and the author of the forthcoming Dying to be Healed, a book that focus on historical health trends. "Renaissance physicians used herbals like crazy. They were the mainstay of medicinal treatment."

It wasn't until the 1900s or so when prescription drugs were developed and people started to abandon herbal medicine, he explains.

"Once that shifted, it was impossible to get herbalists back into the fold, but now the public is clamoring for herbal medicine and it's drifting back," he says.

"Getting fresh air, regular exercise, and eating well were also prescribed by doctors back then," he says.

Another Renaissance idea that is making a comeback is the siesta, or midday nap, he says. "Big corporations are starting to get that and create nap rooms."

That's not to say that all was well and good during the 15th century. "Public health was a huge issue," he says. "In the Renaissance, sanitation was horrible and open sewers were everywhere and as a result, people were drinking contaminated water." There was no control over infectious disease, so if a fluflu epidemic swept through town, anyone susceptible would die.

"We have much better public health and infection control today," he says.

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