A Note on Medicine in Ancient Times

The internet – which facilitates the sharing of information – has made it possible for us to find out about the medical treatment options suitable for various health conditions. However, information on medicine and medical treatments was not always available openly. As M. Y. Lum pointed out in A Note on Medicine in Ancient Times (from printed page numbers 13-15 in The Malayan Medical Journal, vol. VIII, 1933 issue), medical knowledge in ancient China was only available if you were born into a family of medical practitioners as medical knowledge, seen as proprietary rights, was only passed on to successive generations. The 3-page chapter also has other interesting historical information on medicine and some of which have been listed below for your reading pleasure.

  1. The Chinese then believed that the majority of medical conditions arose from individuals being possessed by malevolent spirits.
  2. Chinese medicine was not just limited to the usage of herbs but included Western drugs, such as quinine, and exotic and unappetizing ingredients, such as dried scorpions.
  3. Chinese doctors relied on pulse diagnoses to ascertain what diseases their patients had and believed that the pulse state on one’s left arm corresponded with one’s heart condition while the pulse state on one’s right arm corresponded with the condition of one’s lung and liver.
  4. The use of anaesthetics can be traced back to as far as 3rd century BC. For example, Hua To, a renown Chinese surgeon then, used hemp on patients to desensitize them for surgeries he was to perform on them. Hemp was also used as an anaesthetic by the Scythians and in India.
  5. Apart from hemp, mandrake or mandragora was also used for anaesthetic purposes and according to Galen, a Greek physician who lived from 129 AD to 216 AD, it was not only used for medical treatments but to desensitize people who were to be tortured or executed.
  6. Besides its use as an anaesthetic, the Babylonians and Egyptians used mandragora as a charm to ward off sterility.
  1. Sarah johnson

    In clinical settings, the Internet enables care providers to gain rapid access to information that can aid in the diagnosis of health conditions or the development of suitable treatment plans. It can make patient records, test results, and practice guidelines accessible from the examination room.

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