He researched into tuberculosis, asthma and venereal disease and it was due to his cure of asthmatic illness of Archbishop Hamilton that he rose to the pinnacle of international fame. “In medicine, Cardano ranks with Hippocrates, Galen, Maimonides, and other physicians of classical and medieval times. He fought against prejudice and superstitions that in the dark ages had become associated with the study of physical ills.” He wrote more than two hundred books on everything that interested him. But today virtually no one knows his name
He was totally accident prone. He would sit on a wall and a brick would come loose. He would stand on a roadway and the road where he stood would give way. Numerous times he fell down flights of stairs. One time as he fell from the top of the stairs, a hammer in his hand was released and made a perfect arc, striking him on the top of his head at the bottom of the stairs. He was ambitious and always looked to a brighter future so as to accept a difficult present condition.
He eventually entered medical studies at Padua University. He was so quick in learning medicine that he finished his courses in one quarter of the time of other students. The degree granting group of physicians, continuously rejected his degree until they had been persuaded, one by one and a majority reached, to grant his medical degree. Those against him would continue to battle against his theories of medicine for the rest of his life.
His battle against the College of Physicians was escalated when he edited and published his medical thesis entitled, “On the Bad Practice of Medicine in Common Use.” The common medical practices that Cardano vehemently denounced were seventy-two in number. He attacked first of all the principle that in every case of illness, immediate recourse, should be powders and potions. “To do nothing with physic is far better than to do too much, and a physician acting rightly should consider a great number of things before setting down prescriptions.” He stated that considerations should include, lifestyle, hygiene and the mental state of the patient. Considerations should include the atmosphere in which the patient lived which was drawn upon his own experiences during his life.
Cardano had several patients that he was noted in helping. Francesco Gaddi, prior of the order of Augustinian Friars in Milan, had suffered from scrofulous infection which was probably tuberculoid leprosy. Normal treatment was branding the patches of the skin with hot irons. Cardano did not immediately use ointments but considered the patient’s mode of life, which included complete neglect of the bodily needs in the cause of spiritual dedication. He arrived at the common sense conclusion of cleaning the body, nourishing the body, and he prescribed regular hours of sleep and exercise. He added the wearing of linen instead of sackcloth next to the skin and included a diet of fish and wine. Astonishingly Gaddi recovered and his body was left with clear skin and completely whole without anything being cut away.
Other patients included Martha Mott, who for thirteen years had suffered from an ulcerated leg and was bedridden. She was cured and completely restored to health. Cardano worked with syphilis, gonorrhea, asthma, tuberculosis and treated famous and high profiled religious leaders, who were afflicted and no one else could cure. He established the principles of the sanatorium, which would not be rediscovered for another three hundred years. His therapies included cleanliness, diet, sunshine and exercise and appropriate rest times.
At the end of his life he would be arrested and tried by the Inquisition for laying out a horoscope of Christ. His freedom was won, due to the intercession of the Archbishop Hamilton, a patient he had cured. Cardano demonstrated perseverance against great odds and a positive attitude in the face of seeming disaster. He also is a reminder to be cognizant of the little things, that are in reality not so little, which can often bring assistance to help a health problem. He utilized the healing forces of nature and prescribed natural living. Sometimes nature seems just too easy a solution! To inspire and empower.