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10 ancient medical practices that chill the blood

Modern people are used to trust medicine unconditionally and rely on the help of doctors both in the case of a common cold and in the case of serious diseases. But there were times when viruses destroyed entire populations, and medical care was more of a trial-and-error process in which the strongest survived.
1. Bloodletting

Bloodletting is an old, creepy medical practice that has been around for millennia. It consisted in the fact that the doctor “bled” a living patient to cure him of some disease. Sometimes bloodletting helped people fight various diseases (for example, people who were obese due to metabolic problems). But it usually did more harm than it helped.

The procedure was quite simple: the doctor took a Lancet, knife, razor or any sharp object and cut the vein (usually on the patient’s hand). Then the doctor placed a bucket under the patient’s arm, into which blood was poured. The usual consequence was simply to Deplete the blood of the already suffering victim and further weaken her immune system.

2. Plastic surgery

In the West in modern days, plastic surgery has become a common practice. A little painkiller, a couple of hours, and voila-a person can look the way they always wanted. But this operation was not always an easy practice. Even in ancient history, there is evidence of rhinoplasty (nose surgery) and other forms of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

The ancient people in India especially loved the variety of plastic surgery, even practiced surgical reduction of breast size. All this was done with sharp stones, knives, or other objects that could remove the flesh from the patient…without the use of modern painkillers. The ancient Indian treatise Sushruta-Samhita, Dating from about 600 BCE, describes this practice. There is also evidence of plastic surgery as early as 7000 BC, long before the invention of local anesthetics.

3. Refinace

Refinace is one of the oldest medical procedures of all time. In fact, this is the first known operation that involved drilling a hole in a person’s head and further examining the brain tissue. This practice dates back to the Neolithic period, and its evidence dates back to 7000 BC.

The ancient Greeks even invented a whole science dedicated to this practice. Although this procedure is terrifying today, injuries on the battlefield in Ancient Greece were much more severe. Therefore, the ability to remove a piece of cracked bone from the skull or drain the blood that had accumulated after a head injury on the brain could actually save the patient.

Later in history, this practice was used to” free supposedly possessed people from demons “(through a hole in the skull,”demons were given a way out of a person”). But the worst of it all is the plethora of evidence that trefination and trepanation were common practice even in the absence of a head injury. The ancients did this with healthy people.

4. Birth control with Silvia

When the Greeks weren’t drilling holes in people’s heads and conquering the entire Mediterranean, they were preoccupied with other medical problems. One of the most pressing issues was the discovery or invention of contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

The ancient Greeks used a plant called silphius (it is quite similar to sunflower), which was used as a medicine at the time. As a contraceptive, the silphius was placed in the vagina using a rather strange applicator. The ancients soaked a piece of wool with the juice of a plant, stuffed it into a woman’s vagina, and hoped for the best.

5. Female circumcision

Unfortunately, this procedure still exists today, although the United Nations calls for the complete elimination of modern female genital mutilation. Female circumcision has been widespread for thousands of years. Herodotus described a similar procedure in Ancient Egypt as early as 500 BC.

Throughout history, this barbaric practice has been carried out in different ways for various reasons. Methods ranged from cutting off the tip of the clitoris to completely removing the clitoris and labia, and even what was called “Pharaoh’s circumcision” (in which the clitoris and labia were completely removed, and the remaining flesh on both sides was stretched over the vagina and sewn together).

A small opening was left for urination and the release of menstrual blood. The reasons for these types of operations range from religious to supposed initiation rites. Often these procedures were imposed on women and girls as a way to preserve chastity or enhance sexual pleasure for men.

6. Reverse circumcision

Yes, that’s right. Reverse circumcision (or rather, the restoration of the circumcised foreskin) has been around for thousands of years, and it sounds terrible. In Ancient Rome, cosmetic surgery was quite popular, including removing various types of skin abnormalities and anything that looked ugly for this culture. Much of the modern knowledge of the customs of those times comes from Aulus Cornelius Celsus.

Although he wrote many works during his life, only his medical works survive. In ancient Greek and Roman society, circumcision was unusual and could interfere with social relationships. But Celsus described a way to ” fix it.” To begin with, it is immediately worth mentioning that this was done long before the advent of modern painkillers.

The upper flesh behind the head of the circumcised penis was captured, stretched until it covered the head, and then bound. After this, the skin covering the penis just before the pubis was cut in a circle until the penis was exposed, and the skin was pulled together like a glove towards the head. A new skin would grow in front of the pubis.

7. Mercury

The battle with syphilis continued for thousands of years and claimed many lives. In the course of this tragic “arms race” between humans and bacteria, many ways have been developed to defeat this disease. It was syphilis that turned the once-powerful gangster al Capone into a man with severely shaken health and disorders of consciousness, although he was one of the first people to be treated with penicillin.

It’s just that the cure came too late for Capone. Symptoms of syphilis are reddish-brown ulcers that cover the body with a rash; ulcers in the mouth, anus, or vagina; swollen tonsils; headaches; neurological problems; infections in the membranes surrounding the brain; deafness; dementia; stroke, and more. Mercury is a liquid metal, the harm of which to the body today knows, perhaps, everyone.

When a person is exposed to it, mercury attacks the Central nervous system as a neurotoxin. Its effects are almost immediate and can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, vision disorders, breathing problems, numbness of the limbs, inability to speak or hear, speech or hearing distortion, skin rashes, anxiety, skin ulcers, tooth loss, insanity, paralysis, and death. Its effect on the human body is instantaneous and inexorable.

But how is syphilis related to mercury? Until the 1920s, the treatment for syphilis consisted of putting a person in mercury in an attempt to cure them, even knowing that it would lead to pain and often death. Patients claimed that the “treatment” in this case was worse than the disease. Today, archaeologists find skeletons of Europeans Dating back to the period when syphilis was treated with mercury, which have significant damage from this metal.

8. Blood of dead gladiators

Rome was a very outstanding civilization of the ancient world. At one point, the Empire covered the entire territory of the Mediterranean sea and extended beyond it. Rome had the most advanced technology of the day, as well as an invincible army that terrified the entire world. It would be logical to assume that such a developed civilization would develop advanced medicine. In some cases, this was the case. But there were also fanciful methods of treating various diseases.

Epilepsy is a terrible disease that affects people all over the world since ancient times. Fortunately, modern medicine is already able to cope with it more or less successfully. In ancient Rome, epilepsy was treated by … drinking the blood of dead gladiators. Subsequently, Rome banned Gladiator fights, and epilepsy was treated with the blood of executed people, especially those who were beheaded.


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