A parallel Arabic-English edition edited, translated, and annotated by Gerrit Bos. Moshe ben Maimon, or Abu Imran Musa ibn Ubayd Allah, better known as Moses Maimonides, is among the most celebrated rabbis in the history of Judaism and the author of works on many subjects.
Notwithstanding its title, his treatise On Asthma is in fact a completed regimen of health, designed for the needs of a high-ranking patient, but unidentified. The central problem he addresses is how to prevent asthma and to alleviate its symptoms.
The cause of asthma was thought to be drainage of fluid from the brain, whereby the lungs become saturated and lose their function. The regimen he proposes, therefore, is to prevent the brain from producing these "defluxions" and to counteract their effects.
In true Galenic fashion, Maimonides stresses that a healthy lifestyle is the most important preventive measure against chronic illnesses such as asthma. He advises the patient to pay close attention to the types of food ingested: those that are difficult to digest produce hot vapors which weaken the brain and increase the asthma-producing drainage.
He describes good and bad foods in detail, includes many recipes for beneficial dishes and drugs, and instructs the patient as to how much and when he should eat. As a vivid application of a comprehensive ancient medical theory to a specific problem, On Asthma makes fascinating reading for all students of pre-modern medicine.