published on 18 January 2012
The Ancient Egyptians were quite advanced in their diagnoses and treatments of various illnesses. Their advancements in ancient medical techniques were quite extraordinary, considering the lack of “modern” facilities, sterilization, sanitation, and researching capabilities. The remedies used by Ancient Egyptian physicians came mostly from nature, and many are still considered viable homeopathic treatments for certain ailments today.
Thanks to the Egyptians’ diligent record keeping, scholars have been able to translate information from the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the Kahun Papyrus, and the Ebers Papyrus to learn the extent of the Egyptian’s knowledge of anatomy, disease, hygiene, disease, and healing. Treatments for several ailments were outlined in these documents, utilizing resources available to them, including minerals, plant materials, and animal products (including urine). The papyri also explain how these treatments were administered, and they were dispensed in a number of ways, including orally, topically, and through suppositories and enemas.
Disease was rather common in Ancient Egypt. There were many skin afflictions, such as parasites, that occurred as a result of contact with the Nile waters. Worms and tuberculosis were also common, and were transmitted from their cattle. And pneumonia was a fairly common occurrence, resulting from taking excessive amounts of sand into the lungs.
While many ailments would have been difficult or impossible to treat (though they would have used what knowledge they did have to conduct rudimentary surgeries as well as carry out rituals and prayers for healing), the Egyptians were able to treat many less serious conditions through the use of natural remedies. Many of the remedies are familiar, as they are used today as homeopathic remedies. They included:Pain relief – thyme and laxatives – Dill, balsam apple, onions, parsley Asthma – sesame, honey and milk, frankincense Digestive aids – garlic, sandalwood, juniper, mint Breathe freshener – mint, caraway Chest pains – juniper, mustard seeds, aloe Headaches – aloe, poppy seeds Wound dressing – honey, a natural antibiotic Anesthetic – poppy seeds (also used for insomnia) Burns and skin diseases – aloe Epilepsy – camphor Vomiting – mustard seeds to induce it, mint to stop it
Along with their strong faith in their gods, the Ancient Egyptians used their knowledge of the human anatomy and the natural world around them to treat a number of ailments and disorders effectively. Their knowledge and research is impressive still today, and their work paved the way for the study of modern medicine.