Top Ten Historical Health and Medical Discoveries of 2015

Top Ten Historical Health and Medical Discoveries of 2015

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Ötzi was a victim of homicide. Researchers say he suffered a quick, violent death that was over quickly but may not have been painless, National Geographic reports. He had an arrow wound, but his death probably came from a blow to the back of his head.

No blood cells had been found in Ötzi since his discovery by German hikers in 1991 until recently. "There were no [blood] traces found, even when they opened some arteries, so it was thought maybe the blood had not preserved and had completely degraded, or that he lost too much blood because of the arrow injury" on his back, Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, told National Geographic.

However, using a nano-size probe, researchers spotted the distinctive doughnut shape of red-blood cells near the arrow wound and a cut on his right hand. They recorded the movements of the probe with a laser to get a three-dimensional image of the cells. The researchers also shone lasers on the wounds to reveal the molecular makeup of the substance to confirm it was indeed blood.

2. Medical Mystery of Usermontu: Why the Discovery of 2,600-Year-Old Knee Screw Left Experts Dumbfounded

Medical Mystery of Usermontu: Why the Discovery of 2,600-Year-Old Knee Screw Left Experts Dumbfounded

In 1971, the Rosicrucian Museum in California acquired a sealed ancient Egyptian coffin containing the well-preserved mummy of a high status Egyptian male. Decades later and a team of scientists made a shocking discovery – the mummy displayed evidence of an advanced surgical procedure carried out nearly 2,600 years ago. Inside the mummy’s left knee was a 9-inch metal orthopaedic pin that had been inserted with such advanced biomechanical principles, that initially scientists could not distinguish it from a modern-day procedure.

Analysis of the embalming procedure revealed that the mummy, known as ‘Usermontu’, was an upper-class Egyptian male who lived during the New Kingdom of Egypt (between 16th–11th century BC). His mummified remains are 5ft (1.5m) tall and display traces of red hair. Professor C. Wilfred Griggs from Brigham Young University, Utah, and a team of experts, carried out x-rays on the mummy of Usermontu. They were stunned when the x-rays revealed that one of the mummies had a 9-inch metal pin in its left knee.

Brigham Young University (BYU) reports that it was impossible to see that the metal implant was ancient from the x-ray alone, leading Professor Griggs to believe that the pin had been placed there in more modern times to reattach the leg to the rest of the body. However, extensive investigations revealed that the advanced procedure had been carried out in ancient times, approximately 2,600 years ago. The research team were astounded that the pin had been created with the same designs used today to create bone stabilization.

1. Medieval Medicine: 1,000-year-old Onion and Garlic Salve Kills Modern Bacterial SuperBugs

Medieval Medicine: 1,000-year-old Onion and Garlic Salve Kills Modern Bacterial SuperBugs

To the surprise and excitement of researchers, a ninth century Anglo-Saxon treatment for eye infections has been used successfully to kill tenacious bacteria cultures. The ancient remedy consisting of onion, garlic, cow bile and wine might be an effective weapon against modern antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA.

Scientists from the University of Nottingham’s Center for Biomolecular Sciences, UK, and Anglo-Saxon expert Dr. Christina Lee worked together to create the 1,000-year-old remedy found in Bald’s Leechbook, (also known as Medicinale Anglicum) a medical text written in Old English believed to be one of the earliest-known books of medical advice.

The medieval recipe for salve used to treat eye infections lists as ingredients: garlic, onion (or leek), wine, and cow bile, reports BBC News. The scientists were astonished to find that the ingredients alone had little effect, but when combined they were effective at killing 90 percent of the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria cultures.

By April Holloway

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Grinding stone, Dendera Temple, Egypt.
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