Three Ancient Medicinal Practices: A Look Back Through History

Get ready to be skeeved out and generally disgusted. In this article we will take a trip through history to review three different types of ancient medicinal practices. Warning, this article may contain content that can cause an unsettled stomach, (but the small amounts of humor and interesting facts can be an antidote). 


Originating in the time of the Romans and Ancient Greeks, bloodletting is the practice of doing exactly what it sounds like, letting out blood to cure the disease.  Ancient physicians like Hippocrates and Galen thought influenced the idea that blood was made of of four basic components, yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm.  So the practice ensued that if you had a sore throat, blood; migraines and stomach ache, blood; the plague, yep you can probably guess where I’m going with this.  Basically, any type of illness was thought to be solved through the purifying of one of the substances of the body.  This makes me appreciate history and the development of our society so much more, that I now can have a minor cold and go to the doctor without getting a leech attached to my arm or a knife to the leg.

Animal Dung Ointments

Another self explanatory name for another disgusting medicinal practice.  Poop, yes poop, used to be CELEBRATED by Egyptian physicians circa 1500 b.c.  It was used for it’s healing properties and ability to ward off evil spirits.  Luckily I did not find anywhere in my research a statement that read “the evil spirits thought it smelled bad so they fled the soul,” because I probably would have questioned all research that I was reading on that whole site.  But I have to hand it to the Egyptians, this was an effective practice for the time period.  Studies have shown the animal dung does indeed contain antibodies to help fight off illnesses and prevent disease, so while this is an obscenely absurd practice, it did in fact have some use. You know when the tetanus wouldn’t kill you.

Cannibal Cures

The ancient civilizations weren’t the best at making up good names for their practices, yet another obscene practice that sadly sounds the same as what it is. Cannibal Cures, the practice of eating potions or compounds that involved human parts such as blood, bone or flesh to cure your illness.  For example, the Romans believed that drinking the blood of fallen soldiers would prevent epilepsy.  As for the likes of King Charles II, he enjoyed a nice brew of human skull and choice alcohol.  Hats off to him for the greatest mixer of the old country, but i’d rather not have an earache and have to eat an ear, but that’s just me.  Use the comments section below if you disagree with my ear statement.  

All in all, thank god for modern medicine! So next time you’re at the doctor’s and he prescribes you some Tylenol instead of a skull and feces for your headache, be thankful that you are living in the now and not the past.  

2552 Total Views 5 Views Today

Nick Provenzano

Nick is a contributor to The Almost Doctor’s Channel and current business student at the University of Pittsburgh. H2P.