10 Ancient Medical Practices Still In Use Today

Human beings have always been obsessed with immortality since the dawn of time. We have always desired to live forever and escape death. We discovered that the answer to achieve this immortality was health. Because with good health comes a long life. Ever since then, mankind has been investing in ways to improve and preserve our health.

With the introduction of new and efficient technology, some of these prehistoric medical practices have been abandoned. While surprisingly, some continue to this day. The following are ten of these medical practices that have stood the test of time. The list is arranged in alphabetical order.

1. Acupuncture

AcupunctureAcupuncture is the elaborate and complex method of curing physical and mental malady using pressure points found in the human body. It is a standard practice in China and usually comes with massages and various herbal treatments. It is also starting to gain popularity outside of Asia.

Acupuncture tools have been discovered dating to 6000 BC but were not proven to be authentic tools. A few historic literature also mentioned the practice but never elaborated on it. So the exact date it started is unknown.

But as we all know acupuncture began in China. It was revealed in a book entitled “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.” According to this book Acupuncture has its roots in Taoism. The book also contains a century’s worth of the core tenets and methods of acupuncture.

2. Caesarean Sections

Caesarean SectionThe first ever caesarean section was done by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahwari in 936 BC. A caesarean section is the deliverance of a baby by slicing open the mother’s belly. A normal baby is delivered through a woman’s birth canal. But in certain cases when that’s not possible, a caesarean is needed.

Abu al-Qasim al-Zahwari then was considered to be the “father of surgery”. His influential book “Kitab al-Tasrif” was the standard text for European medicine for 500 years. He also invented over 200 surgical tools.

The origin of caesarean sections though is somewhat debatable. As the Chinese and Romans have mentioned in their texts about an operation performed on dying pregnant mothers to save their babies.

3. Cauterizing

CauterizingCauterization is the medical process of burning a wound hence destroying tissue to close it and prevent potential infections or blood loss. This was conceptualized by Hippocrates the “father of medicine”. He outlined the process in “Hippocratic Corpus”.

Today cauterization is considered a normal procedure and is still done in hospitals. With the exception that doctors utilize more contemporary tools. But the steps haven’t changed. Burn the wound to close it.

4. Cosmetics

Shaving to remove unwanted hairCosmetics are not only used for physical appearances but also for improving and preserving health. Shaving was done back in primitive days to remove body hair that prevents perspiration from coming out. This also kept skin bacteria at bay. Fragrances became a symbol of the rich Egyptians to hide unpleasant body odor. This eventually led to the invention of deodorant, mouthwash, and skin lotions.

From mere aesthetic uses cosmetics were developed into more functional medical uses. For example, mouthwashes were created to deal with the medical condition of bad breath or “halitosis”. Nasal sprays were used to clear the congestion usually caused by a cold in the nasal passages. Pain relieving lotions are used to alleviate pain felt outside the body.

5. Flaps

Dermatological surgery particularly has undergone some refinements to match up with today’s standard of medicine. But you can say it all began with an Indian surgeon named Susruta. Susruta in 600 BC received credit with the invention of pedicle flaps or a mass of tissue used for grafting. Most of the time pedicle flaps are skin tissues. Sursuta was able to separate the dermis without losing its blood supply.

His invention did not come easy though as he had to experiment a lot to get it right. Once he succeeded, he outlined the steps of the process. Soon the amazing discovery made its way out of India into Europe then eventually the United States. Today the process has expanded into other areas of skin surgery.

6. Hydrotherapy

HydrotherapyHydrotherapy is the use of water for pain relief and to treat physical illnesses. It was formerly called Hydropathy. It was also coined “water cure.”

Today it is used in a variety of ways. Aside from relieving pain, it is used in physical therapy, cleansing of the inner body, and even better mental health if mixed with aromatherapy.

Hydrotherapy was first used by earlier civilizations, namely the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Japanese. Multiple records that were discovered contained discussion on how drinking and soaking in hot or cold water can cure ailments.

The Romans took this a step further and built public bath houses and even added aromatherapy to the practice. Many consider this the start of modern day spas.

7. Leeching

LeechingLeeches gross a lot of people out. Whether they see them in the wild or used as a medical practice. In the field of medicine leeches are used to suck the blood to prevent it from hardening during and after a surgery.

Back in 1500 BC Egypt it was believed that leeches had the power to cure all types of disease. This belief lasted for over a thousand years. This was disproven by doctors in the 20th century and so the practice died down a bit.

Leeching came back in the 1970’s when current technology was not sufficient to prevent blood clotting. And to this day doctors still use leeches in special cases where a huge amount of blood needs to be drained.

8. Maggot Therapy

Maggot TherapyAnother disgusting parasite that has been used by man for health reasons are maggots. These creatures have the ability to differentiate normal healthy flesh from decaying ones. So doctors use maggots to remove dying tissues in human wounds to prevent serious infections. Maggots clean the wounds and even leave behind an antibacterial shield against germs and bacteria.

People who underwent the process claim the feeling is a combination of tickling and itching, but is rarely painful.

Maggot therapy became popular during times of war where a quick medical solution was needed for wounds with pus and gangrene. But it began earlier than that as the Aborigines and Mayans were already using maggots for wound cleansing.

9. Massage

Therapeutic MassageThe origin of massage can be traced back to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians who all had their own style of massage. But all these types of massages had something in common that they came from shamanic healing rituals.

Once again the massage was empowered by the Romans when they added additional things like lotions, oils, and hot rocks. The result transcended the massage into something more than just a physical experience but a sensual one as well.

Nowadays there is a variety of massages to choose from. But be wary and do your homework before getting one as only certain types can heal certain physical conditions.

10. Prosthetics

ProstheticsA prosthetic is an artificial device extension that is used to replace a body part lost in an accident, disease, or birth defect.

The history of prosthetics may have dated all the way back to ancient Egypt between 1000-600 BC. In 2007 scientists discovered a female mummy with a prosthetic toe. The toe was made of wood and leather. Further investigation revealed the site of the wound actually healed cleanly before the artificial toe was attached. Unfortunately, no other prosthetic was found near Egypt to fully support this theory.

Without the contributions of these 10 traditional medical practices and the pioneers behind them, mankind’s reign on earth may have been a short one. There is a reason why these 10 survived the test of time and that is because they work. Partnered with developing technology for modern refinement, it would seem that our health has a bright future and we could live a healthy lifestyle.

READ:  Acupuncture - Poke Away That Chronic Back Pain
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5 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    For sure there are many more practices and I am sure that probably 90% of modern medications are based on ancient recipes from different cultures.

  2. Dhara Mistry says:

    Hey there, thanks for all this great information. Yes, Acupuncture is widely used by the Chinese culture even today. My uncle is an MD in acupuncture and he has cured hundreds of cases of back pain, paralysis, speech disability, insomnia etc. I swear by it since I have actually seen this cases before and after.

  3. borzack says:

    @Dhara Mistry I agree. More and more folks today realize the effectiveness of these therapies, especially acupuncture. We should all be thankful to those people who ‘invented’ these practices in the first place 🙂

  4. Dhara Mistry says:

    @borzack You are absolutely right, considering all these therapies have helped us tremendously…Forwarded this article to my uncle 🙂 Thanks again for sharing!

  5. Quantahis says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a nice information.

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