Home BiologyThe Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
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The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
Man Bloodletting [Image via Sydney Living Museums]

10. Bloodletting

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
Man About To Do An Autopsy [Image via How Stuff Works]

9. Autopsies

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 Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
Iron chastity belt from Middle Ages. Ancient Origins.

8. Attempted Check Of Female Virginity

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
MMR Vaccination [Image via MTPR.org]

7. Vaccinations

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
A Poppy Plant [Image via Reuters]

6. Use Of Opioids

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 Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
Tracheostomy On Dummy [Image via Opentextbc.ca]

5. Tracheostomy

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
Woman Doing Acupuncture [Image via Harvard Health]

4. Acupuncture

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
An illustration of trepanation in the Middle Ages. Sheila Terry/Science Photo Library.

3. Trepanation

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
Chiropractor Adjusting Man’s Back [Image via NCCIH – NIH]

2. Chiropractic

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.

The Science of 35 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today
C-Section Animated [Image via Healthland.com]

1. Cesarian Section (C-Section)

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.



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