Definition of the Word Medicine and It’s
Ancient Meanings Compared to Today

There is a great difference between the various meanings of the word medicine.

A good place to start is the writings of the Great Physicist, David Bohm. Bohm did much work attempting to bridge the gap between modern sciences from a Western perspective, versus the introspective insights from the Eastern religions, such as yoga and Hinduism.

The root word and meaning of the word medicine is mederi, or to measure.

Bohm describes in some detail the difference between the Inner and Outer approaches to “measuring,” as a means to perceiving, understanding, and operating in the world.

Here is an excerpt from his book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order:

In this regard, measure was not looked on in its modern sense as being primarily some sort of comparison of an object with an external standard or unit. Rather, this latter procedure was regarded as a kind of outward display or appearance of a deeper ‘inner measure,’ which played an essential role in everything. When something went beyond its proper measure, this meant not merely that it was not conforming to some external standard of what was right but, much more, that it was inwardly out of harmony, so that it was bound to lose its integrity and break up into fragments.

One can obtain some insight into this way of thinking by considering the earlier meanings of certain words. Thus, the Latin ‘mederi’ meaning ‘to cure’ (the root of the modern ‘medicine’) is based on a root meaning ‘to measure.’ This reflects the view that physical health is to be regarded as the outcome of a state of right inward measure in all parts and processes of the body.

Similarly, the word ‘moderation,’ which describes one of the prime ancient notions of virtue, is based on the same root, and this shows that such virtue was regarded as the outcome of a right inner measure underlying man’s social actions and behaviour. Again, the word ‘meditation,’ which is based on the same root, implies a kind of weighing, pondering, or measuring of the whole process of thought, which could bring the inner activities of the mind to a state of harmonious measure. So, physically, socially and mentally, awareness of the inner measure of things was seen as the essential key to a healthy, happy, harmonious life. [Emphasis added]

Wholeness and the Implicate Order
David Bohm
Routledge Classics, 1980
Page 48