Anesthesia has been quite popular for thousands of years. You can trace the first versions of it as far back as Mesopotamia in 3400 BC. Then they likely used some powerful herbal remedies available to them at that point.
Once the Sumerians found poppy, this became THE anesthesia people used for hundreds of years. Ancient Egyptians stepped it up a notch and used some contents of the mandrake fruit. The Chinese and others eventually used it too. The Ancient Greeks probably developed it the most, considering the name itself is Greek in origin and translates to “without sensation.”
Modern-day versions of urinary catheters are relatively uncomfortable for people. However, this modern flexible catheter came along in the 18th Century (thanks Ben Franklin), but catheters overall were in use for a lot longer than that. They can be traced back to as far as 3000 BC!
Of course, Catheters are used for far more than the urinary department. They can be a huge help for heart-related issues too, so heart catheters are possibly overlooked more than they should be. However, we still use them for the urinary side a lot more than any other. This is simply due to powerful Hospital medications preventing people from releasing their liquid naturally.
We need to make sure real quick that we tell you this surgery known as the “Transsphenoidal Surgery” was not in place until 1907 when Herman Schloffer first attempted it. This surgery is done by inserting a surgical instrument into part of the brain by going through the nose and the sphenoid bone to enter Sphenoidial Sinus Cavity. Here, tumors are removed from the pituitary gland.
However, a version just like it called the “Transnasal Excerebration Surgery” was done for centuries and dates back to Ancient Egypt. Did you ever notice that Egyptian Mummies seem to always have weird-looking noses? This surgery was done by Egyptian Embalmers to remove the cranial vault while they were mummifying someone. Resulting in the weird mummy nose. This also allowed them to remove the brain via the nose too.
For centuries, people felt that certain sicknesses were a result of liquid balance somehow being thrown off. Thus, removing blood was meant to bring balance. It’s widely believed that it worked in cases of things like Hypertension, which could happen with quite a number of illnesses. However, beyond this, there wasn’t much use in it.
As one of the major ancient medical practices, it remained common until the 18th Century in Europe. Today, we still do this but not always in the exact form. When we’re sick, our doctor may want to take our blood and see if there is an issue with it. Hence, modern bloodletting is basically getting blood drawn as well as donating our blood for others.
For many years, it was thought that touching a dead body disrespected the deceased. Even Hippocrates felt that looking at a body was unneeded as death was always from natural causes. Of course, he also believed only 8 things made up the human body then. However, somewhere between 367-282 BC, then King of Egypt Ptolemy I Soter wanted autopsies to be done.
This was due to wanting pathologic anatomy to be within the Library of Alexandria. He allowed physicians to dissect executed criminals to do this. Despite hundreds of years of Autopsies being accepted, European nations pushed against them on religious grounds. This stopped autopsies for quite some time until they were eventually restored later and remain in use today.
The process of checking a female’s virginity may not have a genuine start date. It was widely assumed to have become a tradition to check on this before marriages took place as a way of proving a woman was pure for her husband. It became a very popular Indigenous concept as much as it was in Ancient Greece, Egypt, China, etc. The way they would do this is by having a physician or elder check a female’s vagina for an intact hymen.
If it was perfectly intact, she was pure. If not, it meant she had sex previously and it could end possible marriages. Today, we know that hymens do not work this way and virgins can have ripped hymens from various activities. Meanwhile, even some sexually active women still have intact hymens. Hence, it’s not a good virginity check. Sadly, this process is still in practice in some parts of the world.
While vaccinations became far bigger in the 1900s, they have actually been around a long time. It is one of those ancient medical practices that often gets overlooked due to the other more well-known practices it seems. In the year 1000 AD, the Chinese found a way to vaccinate people against the devastating Small Pox epidemic.
That means vaccinations have been in place for more than 1,000 years now. Of course, there were vaccination breakthroughs in the 1500s, 1700s, and the 1800s & 1900s. Today, we have more vaccination options than ever. That all began with the Chinese, however.
We knew for thousands of years that some plants could bring some medical help to those who were sick. However, help with severe pain came once the Poppy was discovered. It was found sometime near 5000 BC at the end of the Neolithic Period. It was then used by many physicians, resulting in it joining the major ancient medical practices we know of today.
Sumerians and Assyrians were known for it and “Opium” slowly began to grow across the known world. Ancient Greeks slowly developed it into a full-fledged painkiller that they could give nearly anyone. It is mentioned in some form in every single major medical text known too. Today, we have multiple different opioids on the market, but it all began with the Poppy’s Opium.
The process of the Tracheostomy is among the biggest ancient medical practices on record today. It was believed to have originated around 4000 to 3600 BC due to it being depicted in Egyptian art from that timeframe. However, the person who is most credited for the modern version of a Tracheostomy is Roman Physician Asclepiades of Bithynia, who lived around 100 BC.
A Tracheostomy is one of the first things people learn in medical school today due to the common need for it. A person simply makes an incision on the front of someone’s neck, opening the Trachea to develop a direct airway. Today, we insert tracheal tubes to help keep the hole open for further use.
Acupuncture is relatively popular today yet it originated in China sometime between 2000-1000 BC. From this point, it became a popular trend among people of the time. Acupuncture uses needles in specific areas of the body to assist with multiple different issues, often regarding pain. Some felt that it could be used for allergy/sinus problems too.
Today Acupuncture is considered pseudoscience, due to a severe lack of hard scientific proof that it helps. Yet pseudoscience has worked in many forms in the past due to someone believing that something works. Ultimately, that could be why Acupuncture is still used so often today.
Trepanation may be among the oldest ancient medical practices on this list and it makes sense to see why. Relieving a pain in the head by making a hole in it? It seems logical, right? Trepanning is the process of drilling or scraping a hole into a person’s skull as a way to relieve pressure from intracranial disease or blood buildup.
In ancient periods, people used to believe this was also a way to remove evil spirits from someone. Obviously, we don’t do it today for that reason. Due to archeological evidence, we can trace this practice back as far as 6500 BC. Archeologists found skulls showing man-made holes from that time, as well as from several other time periods.
Chiropractic is very popular today and among the most well-known ancient medical practices. It can be used for issues regarding the back as well as the neck. Yet the entire concept behind it is much bigger. The body can and has repaired itself from problems and small illnesses.
Thus, Chiro uses that concept by affecting the nervous system via adjustments to your spinal alignment. Small throws off of this alignment can cause bodily issues such as pain, as well as headaches and much more. It can be traced back to Ancient Egypt and China from 3400 to 2700 BC. There is a lot of success from Chiropractic treatment today, making it a leader in alternative medical care.
We all know what a Cesarian Section is by now. In fact, some of our own mothers very well had them in order to give birth to us. Considering babies had to eventually come out of their mother, the C-Section is likely the most famous of all ancient medical practices. We can trace them back in medical literature as far as 1000 BC.
However, it possible they happened a good bit beforehand. It used to be that a C-Section would result in the death of the mother, considering the way to do it is literally to open her up. Organs have to be moved around or out completely just to get the child out. Naturally, this could kill a person in ancient times. Today, deaths are very rare in developed nations.
Live Science, Science Daily, World Health Organization, NPR, New York Times, Britannica, Smithsonian Magazine, Mayo Clinic, Medical Daily, Cancer.org, History.com, UroToday.com, NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov, ScienceDirect.com, Phys.org