Anthropology Essays – The Origin of Medicine

Last Updated: 27 May 2020
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The Origin of Medicine

Ancient Egyptian Medicine

CAIRO, APRIL 2008: Ancient Egyptian civilisation has contributed important developments to all sorts of human cognition, and medical specialty is non an exclusion. Ancient Egyptians used to name a physician a “physician” mentioning to an active, a professional and a wise individual. A doctor was able to cover with what might go on during day-to-day pattern every bit aptly as a countryside general practician would make today. The physician’s occupation was non merely to go to ill people and to urge a intervention but besides a doctor would fix and distribute medicine. The doctor was normally a priest and possibly with good cognition of other humanistic disciplines.

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Ancient Egyptians were the first known people to hold had a elaborate survey of medical specialty and to go forth written records to depict the healing patterns. The oldest Egyptian medical texts day of the month back about to 2000 B.C. These texts were moderately free of the magician attack to handle unwellness.

The earliest known doctor in history was Hesyre, who was the “Chief tooth doctor and Physician” of King Djoser in the twenty-seventh Century BC. The earliest known female doctor was besides an Egyptian. Peseshet practiced medical specialty during the period of the 4th dynasty ( 2600 B.C ) . Her rubric was “Lady Overseer of the Lady Physicians” . Equally good as practising medical specialty, Peseshet had a supervisory place and graduated many accoucheuses at the ancient medical school in Sais ( Sa el-Hagar today ) .

Concept of the human organic structure:

Ancient Egyptians tried to apologize and understand the physiology of the human organic structure. Given how of import River Nile was for life, Ancient Egyptians would say similitude to the flow of the mighty river and to how it irrigated the Fieldss. They assumed the human organic structure, by analogy, had channels that flowed with blood, breathed air and H2O. Peoples would fall ill if a obstruction to these channels happened. For illustration, they believed that bad nutrient would bring forth gases, which in bend would barricade these channels. They, hence, assumed that most of the diseases were because of improperly digested nutrient.

Impressions of physiology and disease focused on the bosom as the centre of the homo. The bosom was one’s spouse ; it spoke to a individual in his or her purdah. It was at the same clip the engine of all the bodily work, non merely circulation. From the bosom, continued channels ( Metu ) linked all parts of the organic structure together. Metu did non mention merely to blood vass, but besides to the respiratory tubing, canals of assorted secretory organs, spermous canal, the musculuss, sinews and ligaments.

The Goddess of medical specialty ( Sekhmet ) :

Sekhmet was originally the warrior Goddess of Upper Egypt. Ancient Egyptians figured her as a lioness, the fiercest huntsman known to them. They believed that her pant created the waterless part beyond the Nile Bankss, and considered Sekhmet the defender of all Pharaohs.

The name Sekhmet became synonymous to the Goddess of Medicine during the Middle Kingdom. Therefore, doctors, tooth doctors and veterinary practicians were the “Priests of Sekhmet” . The caput of lioness symbolized power and the supreme divinity of mending. The priests of Sekhmet were the specializers in medical specialty and surgery.

Medical preparation:

Students learned the medical profession at schools called the “Houses of Life” . The coachs had given them some applied experience, but chiefly the pupils had to larn from the written papyri full of cognition and experience. The medical texts were non merely a font of professional cognition but besides a precaution against possible failure.

Classs of Ancient Egyptian Physicians:

The societal category of Egyptian Physicians existed since the yearss of the Old Kingdom. Medical specialisation besides existed. Writing of travels to Egypt, Herodotus ( 484-425 BC ) noted, “The pattern of medical specialty based on a program of separation. Each specializer doctor treated a individual upset and non more. Therefore, Egypt was full of medical practicians, some project to bring around diseases of the oculus, others of the caput and others of the bowels. Specialist doctors did non needfully settle in the small towns and towns they practiced the art of healing” ( Herodotus: The Iranian Wars. P. 155 ) .

Many doctors were priests and some were Scribes as shown in rubrics like “Chief doctor and Scribe of the word of God” . Physician ranks were an ordinary doctor ( like a general practician of today ) , a senior doctor, an inspector, an superintendent and a “Master” of medical specialty. The Chief Physicians of the South and North were like curates of wellness. Royal and castle doctors had particular ranks and rubrics.

A practicing doctor had to larn the scientific discipline of drug readying and medicative workss. Ancient Egyptians held handling doctors in so much high esteem that they raised Imhotep ( the great doctor, 2700 BC ) after decease to a sacred position of the God of Medicine.

Ancient Egyptian remedies:

Because of old impressions of physiology and disease, laxatives had a important topographic point in Egyptian remedies. Ingredients included fresh algarroba bean, Castor oil and colocynth. Bulk laxatives of bran, figs and fresh fruits were besides in usage.

Doctors used Ca carbonate and figs as alkalizers. They besides used soured milk and honey to assist digestion. They mixed aggressive cathartics with “anticholinergics” such as Hyoscyamus ( atropine ) or carminatives as Cuminum cyminum, Chinese parsley and batch. Carob ( pulverization tasted like cocoa made from cods of a certain tree ) and gypsum ( calcium sulphate pulverization ) were effectual antidiarrheal remedies.

Egyptian doctors treated bosom conditions non as efficient, because the Egyptian doctors had trouble separating bosom and tummy symptoms. They recommended aloe, mustard, willow, Hyoscyamus and Punica granatum ( incorporating glycosides or utile vasodilatives ) . Diuretic drugs included Apium graveolens dulce, beer, algarroba bean and powdery day of the months.

Analgesics were few and restricted to carminatives or spasmolytics. Ancient doctors used effectual febrifuges as salt, alum and willow. However, no grounds exists to the usage of narcotics or other depressants until the Roman period ( 30 BC ) .

Treatment of musculoskeletal upset was topical with warm patchs, cataplasms or rubefacients ( medical specialties to blush and warm the tegument, known today as counter- thorns ) like mustard, gum terpentine, retem and olibanum. The Egyptians used Apium graveolens dulce for painful articulations ( it is still in usage today as antirheumatic drug ) . They used Crocus sativus to handle backache.

Doctors and accoucheuses used gynaecological medicines to excite labour, command construct or infection. They used common wormwood ( a bitter gustatory sensation works ) for catamenial upsets and diaphragms of crocodile droppings to function as preventive ( the sourness is spermicidal ) . They recommended interpolation of juniper oil to excite labour ( now known to increase uterine contraction and launch labour ) .

Ancient Egyptians have known parasitic infestations ; nevertheless, they did non acknowledge that bilharzia ( Bilharzias ) caused the haematuria ( blood in piss ) they described. Antihelminthic dugs based on Punica granatum, common wormwood, thyme and Sb, followed by a cathartic, controlled unit of ammunition worms and cestodes infestations.

Antiseptics and disinfectants were effectual. Egyptian doctors used phenols as thyme ( basil ) and bitumen ; intoxicants were beer and fermented grapes juice. They besides used minerals as Zn, Sb and Cu as styptics assorted in a medium for even distribution.

For cough, they recommended mixtures of honey, acacia and Sb with aromatic inspiration. Egyptian doctors used ammi visnaga ( incorporating a bronchodilator khellin ) to handle asthma.

Egyptian doctors treated oculus infections with antiseptic of Cu and honey, placed on the palpebras or in the oculus. They used acacia, algarroba bean and milk as demulcents for ophthalmic remedies.

Skin demulcents as acacia gum and works mucilage were popular. Doctors used Balanites oil, Castor oil and goose fat to command skin infections. They mixed these ingredients with salt, malachite or ochre and used the mixture for patchs. Ladanum treated dandruff. For phalacrosis, they used fats, oils and, symbolically, porcupine quills. For Burnss, they applied an antibacterial mixture of gum terpentine, Cu, oils and honey. To advance healing, they used Aloe vera.

Pharmacy in Ancient Egypt:

Pharmacy did non be as an independent profession in Ancient Egypt, but a compelling grounds exists of the Egyptians had professional protocols and criterions. The based the interventions conceptually, restricted by limited cognition of physiology. The footing of most medical specialties was herbs and veggies. Doctors used drugs in the signifier of pills, unctions and beads. They besides used dressings and deodorant readyings.

Ancient Egyptian doctors did non hold a formulary ( book of standard drugs ) . Alternatively, the medical papyri fulfilled the undertaking of a formulary. Medicines were proper and effectual that BPC ( British Pharmacopeia ) 1911 included 25 per centum of the available drug substances stemmed from Ancient Egyptian medicines.

Recommendation of a remedy, readying and dose pointed to awareness of possible benefits and dangers, without grounds of available formal respect to toxicity or contraindication to the medicines used. An Egyptian doctor could merely divert from a given intervention after four yearss, proposing singular protocol criterions.

The statement that placebo of Ancient Egyptian medicine was greater than the curative value appears untrue. What we grasp from Ancient Egyptian history marks a society aware of the demand for health care and intervention. Doctors used a diverse scope of works, animate being and mineral ingredients to this terminal. It is true that faith influenced Ancient Egyptians day-to-day life and so had to be intrinsic to medical pattern, yet as written in the medical papyri, documented rational intervention predominated that supported by supplications.

Some remedies from celebrated veggies and herbs:

  • Garlic: Believed to give verve, sooth flatulency and aid digestion. Egyptian doctors used garlic as a mild laxative and shrivel haemorrhoids ( hemorrhoids ) . During constructing the pyramids, supervisors delivered garlic daily to workers to give them verve and strength needed to transport on and execute good.
  • Onion: Doctors used onions to forestall colds, conveying about sweat, sooth sciatica and as a diuretic. Priests did non hold onions as neither nutrient nor medical specialty.
  • Cumin: It is widely available in Egypt ; doctors used it to increase the enteric gesture and to handle flatulency. Doctors who were handling joint achings assorted Cuminum cyminum with wheat flour, Chinese parsley and H2O to use as a cataplasm on the hurting articulation.
  • Parsley and benne: Doctors used any as a good water pill.
  • Mustard: The utilizations of mustard were to arouse purging and to alleviate thorax achings.
  • Coriander: The utilizations of Chinese parsley were many. It helped with loss of appetency, absent menses ( non because of gestation ) , a laxative and aphrodisiac. Ancient Egyptians believed that Chinese parsley has antifungal belongingss and deters insects. This is the cause of happening in Tutankhamen’s Tomb.

The oldest medical text editions:

The Ancient Egyptians recorded the medical information we are cognizant of in 12 papyri written in priestly book. They show the comparative edification of medical specialty in Ancient Egypt, consistence of pattern and length of service of remedies. The most of import papyri from the point of view of the elaborate description of unwellnesss and intervention are:

The Ebers Medical Papyrus:

This papyrus is 23 pages long and is largely an internal medical specialty mention. It includes anatomical and physiological mentions every bit good. It describes 876 formulas and 400 different drugs. The Ebers Papyrus consists of a list of recommendations for nutriments such as lesions, tummy ailments, gynaecological jobs and skin annoyances.

The Scribe calculated the sums of ingredients for a medical specialty harmonizing to fractions based on parts of Horus oculus. Until today, the RX symbol on each prescription refers to the Eye of Horus. For some unknown ground the Scribe who wrote it did non complete the papyrus, and ended in midsentence.

The Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus:

This papyrus is, possibly, the work of a physician associated with a pyramid-building work force. This five metres papyrus trades chiefly with jobs such as broken castanetss, disruptions and oppressing. The doctor divided the 48 instances documented into classs: `` An complaint which I will handle '' , `` An complaint with which I will postulate '' and `` An complaint non to handle '' .

It described symptoms of each of the documented instances, urging possible remedies. The Physician who wrote the papyrus was cognizant of blood circulation throughout the organic structure. The Scribe clearly recognized that patient’s pulsation reflects the status of the bosom. This papyrus includes a huge experience in bone hurts that can happen merely during edifice of the pyramids.

Similar to Edwin Smith papyrus, few paragraphs had rubrics. However, all paragraphs included the phrase: `` If you examine a patient with a… , '' a feature, which marks how close it is to the Edwin Smith Papyrus. This suggests that antediluvian Egyptian doctors recognized that scrutiny is indispensable to place the unwellness. Yet, the Scribe in both papyri did non advert the chances of the diseases.

The Kahun medical papyrus1900 BC

The oldest yet discovered, dating from the epoch of Amenemhat II. The Kahun Medical Papyrus describes methods of naming gestation and the sex of the unborn. It besides describes odontalgia during gestation, diseases and assorted complaints of females, and concerned with the uterus and finding of birthrate. The gynaecological text lies in 34 paragraphs, of which the first 17 have a common format. They start with a rubric followed by a brief description of the symptoms, normally, of a job of the generative variety meats. The 2nd subdivision begins on the 3rd page, and includes eight paragraphs, which, because of both the province of the bing transcript and the linguistic communication, are about unintelligible. The 3rd subdivision ( paragraphs 26-32 ) dealt with the proving for gestation. The 4th and concluding subdivision contains two paragraphs, which do non fall into any of the old classs. The first describes intervention for odontalgias during gestation. The 2nd describes what sounds like a fistulous withers of the vesica to the vagina with incontinency of urine '' .

It besides described methods of contraceptive method. It described prescriptions for urinary, venters and kidney jobs, hurting limbs and achings in the sockets of the eyes.

Did Ancient Egyptians recognize forensic medical specialty?

Ancient Egyptians used to analyze organic structures of the dead to understand the cause of decease. This should non look unusual for such people traditionally familiar, as they were, to careful chase of cognition. Harmonizing to the American historiographer James H. Breasted ( an authorization on ancient Egyptian history-University of Chicago, 1930 ) , portion of the accomplishment of the ancient Egyptian sawboness was because of what they learned from analyzing the dead organic structures. Surgeons treated clean lesions were by sewing and adhesive patchs. They treated other lesions by acquiring the borders near on the first twenty-four hours, and afterwards handling them with honey and acerb herbs. Egyptian sawbones performed amputations and even more made prosthetic device.

The influence of Ancient Egyptian Medicine on the remainder of the universe:

The Ancient Egyptians were the first people in the universe to hold based cognition on careful and sharp observations, every bit good as test and mistake. By careful observation, early doctors began mending patterns that they have taught to many. They had a medical pattern that developed over three thousand old ages and gave much toward progressing medical scientific discipline worldwide. Egyptian doctors were celebrated in the Ancient World. Ramses II had sent doctors to the male monarch of Hatti and the Iranian male monarch Achaemenids.

Greeks gained medical traditions and footing of cognition from the medical schools of Egypt ( Hamilton: The History of Medicine, Surgery and Anatomy. P. 35 ) . Therefore, Egyptian theories and patterns influenced the Greeks, who educated many of the doctors in the Roman Empire, who in bend influenced Arab and European medical thought for centuries to come. One can clearly detect the bequest of Egyptian medical specialty in few basicss of the Grecian strategy ( Breasted 1930 ) . Grecian medical specialty developed during the 6th to seventh centuries B.C. The first Grecian doctor learned the art at Alexandria during the Ptolemaic period ( 305-330 B.C. ) . The Egyptian thought of decay [wekhedu] may hold resurfaced in the [perittoma] ( infective digestive residues ) of the Alexandrine Greeks. Other characteristics adopted by the Greeks from the Egyptians included several medicative workss, how to compose drug prescriptions, the pattern of prenatal and gynaecological fumigations, and the mending value of temple slumber.

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