Ancient Remedies

Acupuncture

Acupuncture down the back.

Acupuncture is an ancient Asian, primarily Chinese, remedy for all ailments, developed over 5000 years ago, but with similar techniques spanning tens of thousands of years prior.

The basic idea is to insert needles into points of energy in the body called “meridians” to balance the qi and Blood of a person, and to balance their body between the five elements of Wood, Water, Fire, Metal, and Earth. This, in turn,  is supposed to help a person’s physical and mental states even out, and heal them.

Early types of acupuncture used stone needles, honed to a fine point, and were stuck in very specific points in the body said to reduce symptoms of particular ailments. Today, stone is replaced with disposable, incredibly thin metal needles, and the meridian points have been clearly defined to take care of a host of problems.

Today, as it was thousands of years ago, acupuncture is used to treat problems as simple as an ache, to those as serious as schizophrenia, and is practiced worldwide (though its principal usage is mainly in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia). While acupuncture’s ability to heal serious problems is still debated over, some studies are beginning to show that it can treat mild symptoms effectively.

“Acupuncture needles span the ages. ” The Jakarta Post 28  Aug. 2010, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  3 Sep. 2010.
Becky Rynor.  “Acupuncture: Ancient medicine for modern ailments :[Final Edition]. ” The Ottawa Citizen 4  Aug. 1998, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  3 Sep. 2010.
Elizabeth Fee, Theodore M Brown, Jan Lazarus, and Paul Theerman. ”Exploring acupuncture: Ancient ideas, modern techniques. ” American Journal of Public Health 92.10 (2002): 1592-1592. ABI/INFORM Global, ProQuest. Web.  3 Sep. 2010.

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Trepanation

Trepanation is the ancient practice of drilling a hole in one’s head to heal, and is one of the first attempts at accurate invasive surgery to be practiced. The idea to most people now is abhorrent and barbaric, but is still used occasionally under special circumstances.

Trepanation was recorded as being used all over the world in many cultures, from Bronze Age Britain, to India circa 200 BCE, to modern day. A body discovered in Britain showed a man, with a fairly regular-shaped hole in his skull, either scraped down or cut away and left to heal. The man survived the procedure, as bone growth had restarted around the hole, and continued living his life after what may be considered today as a drastic procedure.
A skeleton of a woman in India was shown to have the same procedure done to her, though she does not seem to have survived: bone growth had not continued, and the skull edges were sharp.

Ancient practice dictated that the art of trepanation was used often to stop a range of symptoms, from physical injuries such as skull fractures and head injuries, to psychological problems often attributed to evil spirits, such as perhaps schizophrenia or siezures.

Though it seems burtal and unnecessary, trepanation is still used today, though still most often in special medical circumstances rather than to alleviate generic symptoms.
A good example is in the case of Houston Bradley, who, after suffering a skateboard accident, had a spot of his skull removed via trepanation to relieve the swelling of the brain. What would have otherwise caused brain damage, was prevented by giving the swollen brain space to expand.
After a lengthy period of time to heal, the chunk of skull removed will be reattached to grow back to the skull.

Though the idea behind the benefits of trepanation have changed, the procedure itself has not. A hole in the head, in the right situation, can and has saved lives, and though ancient peoples didn’t know why, they knew it did work. Modern medicine has backed this, showing trepanation has remained a viable method of invasive surgery throughout the ages.

Asher Price.  “Skull surgery is milestone in recovery. ” Austin American Statesman 8  Sep. 2010, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  13 Sep. 2010.
“GREEK SKULL Ancient surgery. ” The Gold Coast Bulletin 15  Mar. 2008, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  13 Sep. 2010.
“Skull reveals ancient surgery :[FIRST Edition]. ” Liverpool Echo 20  Aug. 2002, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  13 Sep. 2010.

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Wine as a Remedy

Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use wine as medicine

Wine is one of the oldest drinks in the world: people learned very quickly to ferment various plants to get an alcoholic beverage. But it was used as more than just an enjoyable drink, alcohol was used in many medicinal ways, and it still is.

For thousands of years, since the cultivation of grains and the discovery that fruit can ferment, people have been drinking wines and beers. But it was also a much safer bet for ancient peoples: unlike water, which was oftentimes dangerous to drink from bacteria within the water, alcohol had antiseptic properties that rendered it sterile, both perfect for safe drinking and for applying to open wounds to clean.

Some analyses of ancient Egyptian jars from between 5000 BCE and 1500 BCE show not only alcohol residues from wine stored within them, but the jars also hold various plants often used in herbal remedies, such as coriander, balm, and rosemary, all used to treat various symptoms of sickness. So in addition to the antiseptic properties alcohol had, ancient peoples may have mixed it with other remedies, making a sort of alcoholic tea that could treat many symptoms all at once, in a single delicious drink.

Today, wine and alcohol are often consumed for the effects of its high: getting drunk, or at the very least the buzz. But studies have shown that moderate amounts of red wines can reduce heart disease and other ailments, while other alcohols in moderation have other benefits. We don’t often mix it with herbal remedies anymore, but it is still shown to have a positive effect on the human body.

“More than three small glasses (3 units) of red wine a day and all the positive effects of wine go out the window, says Dr Alan Crozier of the University of Glasgow. “You’re raising the risk of heart disease, cirrhosis, cancer and stroke.”. ” Belfast Telegraph 11  Sep. 2010, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  16 Sep. 2010.
Natalie Angier.  “An Ancient Medicine (Enjoy in Moderation). ” New York Times 11  Dec. 2007, Late Edition (East Coast): Banking Information Source, ProQuest. Web.  16 Sep. 2010.
“Unlocking Egypt’s herbal remedies. ” Townsville Bulletin 2  May 2009, ProQuest Newsstand, ProQuest. Web.  16 Sep. 2010.