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Credited as the “Father of Toxicology”, Paracelsus was a Swiss physician and alchemist who pioneered the use of minerals and other chemicals including mercury, iron and copper sulphate in medicine.

Born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, it’s fair to say this leading scientist’s name was a bit of a mouthful. The name “Paracelsus” was a nickname, meaning “equal to or greater than Celsus” – a noted Roman physician.

During his time as a military surgeon, Paracelsus demanded that people stop applying cow dung and feathers to wounds in favour of keeping them clean.

Although this seems obvious today, Paracelsus’ advocation of cleanliness came at a time when doctors actually believed that infection was a natural part of the healing process.

How far we’ve come...

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