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throwaccount's avatar

I would like to read about ancient medicine, where do I start?

Asked by throwaccount (147points) December 22nd, 2016

Hi, I am curious about ancient medicine and treatments that we still use today (e.g., honey for curing wounds and burns, boiling leaves/herbs for cough, wounds etc.), however I am not sure where to start.

I would also like to read a book of old recipes of remedies like this one I have read here:

For the evacuation of the belly:
Cow’s milk, 1; .grains, 1; honey 1; mash, sift, cook; take in four portions.

To remedy the bowels:
Melilot (?), 1; dates, 1; cook in oil; anoint sick part.

To refresh an aching head:
Flour, 1; incense, 1; wood of wa, 1; waneb plant, 1; mint (?), 1; horn of a stag, 1; sycamore (?) seeds, 1; seeds of [ (?)], 1; mason’s plaster (?), 1; seeds of zart, 1; water, 1; mash, apply to the head.

To renew bowel movements in a constipated child:
An old book, boil in oil, apply half on the belly to reestablish evacuation.

I have found a PDF of these remedies but they are not in English. Any ideas what books should I read? Thank you very much.

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8 Answers

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Wikipedia Galen, then go to the references and track them down on the net. You will find references as to his methods and even his teachers and theirs as well. Galen is a good start to move forward in time from.

Much of today’s herbal pharmacopea and folk medicine comes from the times when doctors were not available in certain rural areas. The Appalacian culture in the U.S. is an excellent source for these methods. In Europe, during WWII, pharmaceuticals often weren’t available to civilians due to the great military demand.

So, the people were forced to revive and research the methods used two generations previously in order to treat many of their maladies. The forests of Europe were foraged thoroughly during this time for the ingredients of old medical recipes. Books were published in order to assist them in the old methods, making the concoctions, and identifying the correct plants.

Some of these books still survive. For English texts of this type, I would search the net and contact antique booksellers and information on recent reprints.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Edit, last paragraph: British antique booksellers.

janbb's avatar

Foxfire is a series of books on Appalachian traditional crafts and practices. Here is their title on herbal healing.

I would also suggest you go to a large public library and talk to the reference librarian. They hsould be able to find a wealth of resources for you in books and databases.

Cruiser's avatar

I would suggest googling Ayurveda or Ayurvedic remedies. Ayurveda is what the yogi’s of India have been using to treat all form of ailments for thousands of years and is well documented in many texts passed down through the ages. My wife is a certified Ayurveda practitioner and she has ministered to us and her remedies really do work well.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@janbb Your last paragraph was shameless self-promotion.

Foxfire was my intro to Appalachian culture in the early 1970’s. A great series of books. I looked for them a few years ago and found them out of print. Places like Ebay would be a good place to look.

And I second Ayurvedic medicine. It served well for over 5,000 years. The texts are not difficult to find at all.

janbb's avatar

^^ But I didn’t say he should look for a penguin reference librarian!

And they are available again.

marinelife's avatar

Perhaps you would find reading about Chinese medicine interesting. It is very ancient. Here is one title on the subject.

Then there are Native American cures and medicines. Some information can be found at this site.

MollyMcGuire's avatar


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