The Hippocratic Oath

The hypocrisy of administering the Hippocratic Oath is remarkable, for the ceremony purports to continue an ancient tradition, yet in actual fact the oath has been edited beyond recognition in a mistaken attempt to ‘modernize’ it. Lifestyle Medicine in a way is going back to the original, and the proper role of the lifestyle physician is very “Hippocratic” in nature. The full text of the oath and an expose of its history by one Raphael Hulkower at Einstein Medical College, and be found here in pdf form. Here follows the text of the original oath:

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and
Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses
as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this contract:

To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me
as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to
fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring
as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them
this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or
contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every
other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of
the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and
to students bound by this contract and having sworn
this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others.

I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my
patients according to my greatest ability and judgment,
and I will do no harm or injustice to them.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor
will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a
woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my
life and my art.

I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from
stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in
this craft.

Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the
benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety
or corruption, including the seduction of women
or men, whether they are free men or slaves.

Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients,
whether in connection with my professional practice or
not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep
secret, as considering all such things to be private.

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without
corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life
fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.


Now compare what it says on the website of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine:

Lifestyle Medicine involves the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that’s all too prevalent. 

Lifestyle Medicine – Definition

It seems to me we are coming full circle here. Now of course, in practice we’ll finesse it a little bit, since lifestyle medicine physicians will usually be trained as physicians, and in some cases supportive drug therapies may be required, or simply the managed building down from multiple medications, which is frequently the issue. Nevertheless, the dietary angle is the central focus in the Hippocratic Oath, and it was obfuscated in some of the modern versions. In Lifestyle Medicine we return to the original.