While medicine has come a long way since his time, we can still learn many things from these Hippocrates quotes.
Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine. We still use the Hippocratic Oath even today. He was a Greek physician who is credited as being one of the first people to believe that diseases and sickness were caused because of the human body, the environment, and other internal processes.
Prior to his extensive work, people believed that diseases were brought on by the wrath of the Gods or other superstition. He separated religion from the study of medicine and educated people on things like diet and daily habits.
It was hard for physicians to learn more about human anatomy during this era because dissecting humans was considered taboo. Keep reading these Hippocrates quotes to gain more insight from the words of these great Greek physician.
Don’t forget to also check out these body positive quotes that promote self-love.
Hippocrates quotes about disease
1. “As to diseases, make a habit of two things—to help, or at least to do no harm.” — Hippocrates
2. “Correct is to recognize what diseases are and whence they come; which are long and which are short; which are mortal and which are not; which are in the process of changing into others; which are increasing and which are diminishing; which are major and which are minor; to treat the diseases that can be treated, but to recognize the ones that cannot be, and to know why they cannot be; by treating patients with the former, to give them the benefit of treatment as far as it is possible.” — Hippocrates
3. “I am about to discuss the disease called “sacred”. It is not, in my opinion, any more divine or more sacred than other diseases, but has a natural cause, and its supposed divine origin is due to men’s inexperience, and to their wonder at its peculiar character.” — Hippocrates
4. “In acute diseases, the physician must conduct his inquiries in the following way. First, he must examine the face of the patient, and see whether it is like the faces of healthy people, and especially whether it is like its usual self. Such likeness will be the best sign, and the greatest unlikeness will be the most dangerous sign. The latter will be as follows. Nose sharp, eyes hollow, temples sunken, ears cold and contracted with their lobes turned outwards, the skin about the face hard and tense and parched, the color of the face as a whole being yellow or black.” — Hippocrates
5. “We must turn to nature itself, to the observations of the body in health and in disease, to learn the truth.” — Hippocrates
6. “The forms of diseases are many, and the healing of them is manifold.” — Hippocrates
7. “Any man who is intelligent must, on considering that health is of the utmost value to human beings, have the personal understanding necessary to help himself in diseases and be able to understand and to judge what physicians say and what they administer to his body, being versed in each of these matters to a degree reasonable for a layman.” — Hippocrates
8. “It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” — Hippocrates
9. “Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.” — Hippocrates
Hippocrates quotes about cures and healing
10. “About medications that are drunk or applied to wounds, it is worth learning from everyone; for people do not discover these by reasoning but by chance, and experts not more than laymen.” — Hippocrates
11. “And if this were so in all cases, the principle would be established, that sometimes conditions can be treated by things opposite to those from which they arose, and sometimes by things like to those from which they arose.” — Hippocrates
12. “For it is a good remedy sometimes to apply nothing at all.” — Hippocrates
13. “He will manage the cure best who has foreseen what is to happen from the present state of matters.” — Hippocrates
14. “Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” — Hippocrates
15. “If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” — Hippocrates
16. “Our food should be our medicine, and our medicine should be our food.” — Hippocrates
17. “The function of protecting and developing health must rank even above that of restoring it when it is impaired.” — Hippocrates
18. “Opposites are cures for opposites.” — Hippocrates
Hippocrates quotes about physicians and the medical profession
19. “A physician ought to have his shop provided with plenty of all necessary things, as lint, rollers, splinters: let there be likewise in readiness at all times another small cabinet of such things as may serve for occasions of going far from home; let him have also all sorts of plasters, potions, and purging medicines, so contrived that they may keep some considerable time, and likewise such as may be had and used whilst they are fresh.” — Hippocrates
20. “Physicians are many in title, but very few in reality.” — Hippocrates
21. “The physician must have at his command a certain ready wit, as dourness is repulsive both to the healthy and the sick.” — Hippocrates
22. “Life is short, and the Art long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious and judgment difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.” — Hippocrates
23. “If you are not your own doctor, you are a fool.” — Hippocrates
24. “The dignity of a physician requires that he should look healthy, and as plump as nature intended him to be; for the common crowd considers those who are not of this excellent bodily condition to be unable to take care of themselves.” — Hippocrates
25. “Of several remedies, the physician should choose the least sensational.” — Hippocrates
26. “I also maintain that clear knowledge of natural science must be acquired, in the first instance, through mastery of medicine alone.” — Hippocrates
27. “But medicine has long had all its means to hand, and has discovered both a principle and a method, through which the discoveries made during a long period are many and excellent, while full discovery will be made, if the inquirer be competent, conduct his researches with knowledge of the discoveries already made, and make them his starting-point. But anyone who, casting aside and rejecting all these means, attempts to conduct research in any other way or after another fashion, and asserts that he has found out anything, is and has been victim of deception.” — Hippocrates
28. “Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge holding such things to be holy secrets.” — Hippocrates
29. “Medicine is of all the Arts the noblest; but, owing to the ignorance of those who practice it, and of those who, inconsiderately, form a judgment of them, it is at present behind all the arts.” — Hippocrates
30. “There are some arts which to those that possess them are painful, but to those that use them are helpful, a common good to laymen, but to those that practise them grievous. Of such arts there is one which the Greeks call medicine. For the medical man sees terrible sights, touches unpleasant things, and the misfortunes of others bring a harvest of sorrows that are peculiarly his; but the sick by means of the art rid themselves of the worst of evils, disease, suffering, pain and death.” — Hippocrates
Observational Hippocrates quotes
31. “First of all, a natural talent is required; for when Nature opposes, everything else is in vain; but when Nature leads the way to what is most excellent, instruction in the art takes place.” — Hippocrates
32. “Ars longa, vita brevis. Art is long, life is short.” — Hippocrates
33. “An insolent reply from a polite person is a bad sign.” — Hippocrates
34. “And men ought to know that from nothing else but thence [from the brain] come joys, delights, laughter, and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations. And by this, in a special manner, we acquire wisdom and knowledge, and see and hear, and know what are foul and what are fair, what are bad and what are good, what are sweet, and what unsavory… And by the same organ, we become mad and delirious, and fears and terrors assail us… All these things we endure from the brain when it is not healthy… In these ways, I am of the opinion that the brain exercises the greatest power in the man. This is the interpreter to us of those things which emanate from the air when it [the brain] happens to be in a sound state.” — Hippocrates
35. “I have clearly recorded this: for one can learn good lessons also from what has been tried but clearly has not succeeded when it is clear why it has not succeeded.” — Hippocrates
36. “Men think epilepsy divine, mere because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.” — Hippocrates
37. “Science begets knowledge; opinion, ignorance.” — Hippocrates
38. “To really know is science; to merely believe you know is ignorance.” — Hippocrates
39. “That which is used – develops. That which is not used wastes away.” — Hippocrates
40. “The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.” — Hippocrates
41. “Idleness and lack of occupation tend – nay are dragged – towards evil.” — Hippocrates
Hippocrates quotes about the human body and health tips
42. “And if an incision of the temple is made on the left, spasm seizes the parts on the right, while if the incision is on the right, spasm seizes the parts on the left.” — Hippocrates
43. “The heart is an exceedingly strong muscle. … It contains two separate cavities.” — Hippocrates
44. “The brain of man, like that of all animals is double, being parted down its centre by a thin membrane. For this reason, pain is not always felt in the same part of the head, but sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, and occasionally all over.” — Hippocrates
45. “From nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations.” — Hippocrates
46. “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” — Hippocrates
47. “Even when all is known, the care of a man is not yet complete, because eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health.” — Hippocrates
48. “The body of man has in itself blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile; these make up the nature of this body, and through these he feels pain or enjoys health. Now he enjoys the most perfect health when these elements are duly proportioned to one another in respect of compounding, power and bulk, and when they are perfectly mingled.” — Hippocrates
49. “Through seven figures come sensations for a man; there is hearing for sounds, sight for the visible, nostril for smell, tongue for pleasant or unpleasant tastes, mouth for speech, body for touch, passages outwards and inwards for hot or cold breath. Through these come knowledge or lack of it.” — Hippocrates
50. “The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day.” — Hippocrates
More Hippocrates quotes
51. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
52. “There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.” – Hippocrates
53. “Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.” – Hippocrates
54. “Walking is man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates
55. “Cure sometimes, treat often and comfort always.” – Hippocrates
56. “The life so short, the craft so long to learn.” – Hippocrates
57. “Primum non nocerum. (First do no harm)” – Hippocrates
58. “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” – Hippocrates
59. “Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future.” – Hippocrates
Which of these Hippocrates quotes is your favorite?
Hippocrates’ approach to medicine was natural and passive, which explains why science has moved away from his theories over time. They are still studied, and important in the history of medicine; however, the actual practices are not used as much.
M. S. Houdart, a french doctor, called the Hippocratic treatment a “meditation upon death.” This is likely because of the way “crises” were handled, and the fact that treatment focused more on the patient and not the actual disease.
It stands to reason that we would know more than Hippocrates could learn, but the study and art of medicine directly resulted from his work.
Which of these Hippocrates quotes and sayings is your favorite? If you have any other insightful quotes you would like to share, leave them in the comments below.
February 25, 2021 6:00 AM EST