Known as Avicenna in the West CE 9801037

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A distinguished Persian physician and philosopher, who in his Canon of Medicine, also known as the Qanun (full title: al-qanun fil-tibb), Ibn Sina offered a regimen that he claimed would reduce obesity (Avicenna 1930: 441-2). This regimen resembled much later physical rather than dietary interventions but was clearly based on Galen's views of the dangers of obesity. He argued that one should have the food move quickly through the alimentary canal through the use of laxatives, eat food that is bulky but which has little nutrition, bathe before eating and follow it up with hard exercise, eat foods that attenuate the humours, and take vinegar and salt while fasting to purge the body. Still, it is Ibn Sina who provides a first major link between weight reduction and beauty. He lists those "states, which are not 'disease,' but are classed as such" (Avicenna 1930: 221). These are categories in which "the beauty of the form of the body is impaired." Among his long list is to be found "great emaciation; excessive bulk; undue thinness and fatness" (Avicenna 1930: 168). Ibn Sina is the most widely known and respected of the Arab physicians to be read in the West.

See also Brillat-Savarin; Medieval Diets; Roman Medicine and Dieting

References and Further Reading

Avicenna (1930) A Treatise on the Canon of Medicine, trans. O. Cameron Gruner, London: Luzac. Cohen, Sheldon G. (1992) "Avicenna on Food Aversions and Dietary Prescriptions," Allergy Proceedings 13

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