[Franciscus Sylvius: A Life for Clinic, Research, Teaching And a Little Gin]

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2020 Dec;145(25):1828-1832. doi: 10.1055/a-1163-2936. Epub 2020 Dec 16.
[Article in German]


Franciscus Sylvius, latinized from Franz de le Boë (*15 March 1614 in Hanau; † 14 November 1672 in Leiden), was a Hessian-Dutch physician, anatomist, and natural scientist of Flemish descent. He was an important clinician and iatrochemist, and is considered the founder of scientifically oriented medicine and clinical chemistry. Sylvius introduced the concept of affinity and dealt with digestive processes and body fluids. He was one of the leading exponents of the concept of blood circulation developed by William Harvey. As the person responsible for practical medicine in Leiden, Sylvius established bedside teaching as part of the medical curriculum, and he introduced his students to clinical medicine in an experimental way, both contrary to the rules of the time. He was also interested in pharmacology, herbalism and botany. For heartburn and digestive disorders, Sylvius mixed juniper berries, herbs and alcohol to create a medicine. According to legend, Sylvius marketed this medicine as Genever, for which the name Gin was later adopted in the British Isles, but not only used for medical purposes. Accordingly, the city of birth of Sylvius today calls itself a "birthplace of gin".

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Beverages / history*
  • Clinical Medicine / history*
  • Germany
  • Herbal Medicine / history*
  • History, 17th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Pharmacology, Clinical / history*