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Medicine

Modern day woman with Down syndrome looking at you while group of girls practicing yoga in gym. Source: pressmaster/Adobe Stock

Signature of Down Syndrome Found in Ancient Humans

A brilliant and comprehensive new study has analyzed the DNA of almost 10,000 people from ancient and pre-modern societies, and found 6 cases of Down syndrome in past or ancient human populations...
Ancient Botanical medicine involved smell and taste. Source: Thomas Mucha/Adobe Stock

Ancient Botanical Medicine Was Driven By Taste and Smell, Study Finds

With the advent of modern medicine, it’s hard to imagine the role taste had in the preparation of ancient botanical remedies. In layman terms, taste and flavor had a huge role to play in their...
The bone, black henbane seeds and tar plug used to keep it sealed. Source: BIAC Consult

For Pain or Pleasure? Poisonous Plant Henbane Used by the Romans

While digging at the site of a rural, first-century AD Roman settlement in Houten-Castellum in the Netherlands, archaeologists uncovered a most unusual artifact. Inside a hollowed-out animal bone,...
Leech Finders, from the print collection Costume of Yorkshire (1814), by artist George Walker and engravers Robert and Daniel Havell.             Source: New York Public Library.

Leech Collectors Used Amputated Legs to Procure Leeches

When it comes to historical jobs that will make your skin crawl, leech collecting certainly tops the list. While today, leeches might be an oddity or a relic of ancient medicine, they were once...
Pregnancy in ancient Greece was a difficult time. Source: migfoto / Adobe Stock.

The Sad Truth About Pregnancy in Ancient Greece (Video)

In ancient Greece, pregnancy was far from the experience we know today. The era was marked by perilous uncertainty for expectant mothers and their unborn children. The duty of women was clear:...
Pirate surgeon kit. Source:  Kai Beercrafter / Adobe Stock.

The Gruesome Life of a Pirate Surgeon (Video)

During the Golden Age of Piracy danger was constant. Facing bullets, splinters, and diseases like scurvy, yellow fever, malaria, and smallpox, skilled surgeons were a necessity. 18th-century pirate...
Fleas on rats spread the plague. Source: kichigin19 / Adobe Stock.

What Hygiene Was Like During the Black Plague? (Video)

In the 14th century , European hygiene during the Black Plague was far from ideal. Bathing was infrequent, and people resorted to remedies like vinegar and even urine to combat the disease due to a...
Royal queen in her bedchamber. Source: Anneke / Adobe Stock.

What Giving Birth Was Like for Royal Mothers (Video)

Royal childbirths, a far cry from today's private affairs, were once grand spectacles, laden with political significance. Public scrutiny was the norm, with hundreds of onlookers present to confirm...
Aztec warriors. Source: Arthur / Adobe Stock.

The Ancient Aztec Took Hygiene Very Seriously (Video)

Thanks to their penchant for human sacrifice the Aztecs have a rather gruesome reputation, but what was their hygiene like? As it turns out, they upheld remarkable standards of hygiene. Their...
Indigo dye. Source: Thirawatana / Adobe Stock.

The Link Between Japanese Samurai and Real Indigo (Video)

Within the captivating tapestry of Japanese history , a fascinating link emerges between Samurai culture and the realm of real indigo. Tucked away in Tokushima, Japan, a region steeped in tradition,...
Rosendo Amasifuen conducting a healing practice. Source: YouTube Screenshot / Great Big Story.

Curanderismo: An Ancient Practice with Peru’s Last Medicine Men (Video)

Nestled within the depths of Peru's Amazonian mountains lies a fading tradition that speaks to centuries of natural healing: curanderismo . At 86 years old, Rosendo Amasifuen stands as the final link...
Science is finally catching up with beliefs that ancient peoples have known all along. AI generated image of a copper molecule structure. Source: DmitriRich / Adobe Stock

Copper’s Ancient Healing Powers Are Only Now Being Understood

While certain ancient remedies have received quite a bad rap in the modern era, it appears that some beliefs related to the healing properties of copper may have been spot on. Copper’s use in...
Image 111 of On the Fabric of the Human Body by Andreas Vesalius (Library of Congress)

The Most Influential Medical Book of the 16th Century (Video)

In the 16th century, a groundbreaking medical book emerged, now revered as one of the most influential of its time. Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (‘On the Fabric of the Human Body’)...
Spanish fly has garnered a reputation as a powerful aphrodisiac. Source: Mr. Bolota / Adobe Stock

There’s a Historic Misconception That ‘Spanish Fly’ is an Aphrodisiac

Cultures across the world and throughout history have attributed Spanish fly with aphrodisiacal qualities, used to cure erectile dysfunction , generate desire and enhance sexual performance. Even...
The success of Dr. James Marion Sims, the so-called father of gynecology, was achieved thanks to the suffering of enslaved African American women. Source: annne / Adobe Stock

Exploiting Enslaved Women Propelled the Father of Gynecology to Fame

A monument of Dr. James Marion Sims stands in front of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, eulogizing him as the “father of modern gynecology” and a “benefactor of women.” But Sims has also...
Acai berries staining a hand. Source: Imago Photo / Adobe Stock

Acai Berries: Uncovering a Historic Amazonian Nutritional Powerhouse

You’ve probably heard of the acai berry before. This small, purple fruit is incredibly common nowadays in fruit bowls and smoothies, but did you know it actually has a long and fascinating history?...
Selection of urine flasks and bottles found at the disposal site at the Ospedale dei Fornari. Source: Caesar’s Forum Project/Antiquity Publications Ltd

Renaissance Era Medical Dump Includes Urine Flasks For Tasting Pee!

A team of researchers from Denmark and Italy have stumbled upon a treasure trove of artifacts at an ancient Roman hospital site in Rome brimming with medical supplies. This Renaissance-era trash dump...
Representational image of a child mummy. Child mummies have been scanned to reveal the prevalence of anemia in ancient Egyptian children. Source: Mary Harrsch / CC BY-SA 4.0

Why Did So Many Ancient Egyptian Children Suffer Anemia?

In a “first-of-its-kind” fascinating osteoarchaeological study, scientists have found that anemia was common in ancient Egyptian children who had been mummified . Through the use of CT scans, it was...
Some of the comprehensive set of Roman medical tools discovered in doctors tomb in Hungary. Source: ELTE BTK

Physician’s Tomb Holds Comprehensive Set of Roman Medical Tools

Some two thousand years, an ancient Roman physician made a trip to Hungary, for unknown reasons, and now, archaeologists have found his tomb near Jászberény, a city located approximately 50 miles...
Throughout history probiotic bacteria has been used to attain good health, even if ancient cultures did not yet understand the science behind why they worked. Source: Dr_Microbe / Adobe Stock

Medicinal Microbes of Our Ancestors: Tracing the History of Probiotics

In order to understand the history of probiotics, one needs to imagine a time before modern medicine , when people looked to nature to heal their ailments. Many ancient civilizations consumed...
Leech therapy. Source: Natalia Terenteva / Adobe Stock

Ancient Maggot and Leech Therapy Sees Revival to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

A sharp increase in global antibiotic resistance has caused scientists to search for viable alternatives. But while innovative ancient treatments using maggots, leeches and honey are being...
The skeletal remains of two elite brothers at Megiddo, the focus of this study. Source: Kalisher, R et al / PLoS ONE

High Status Brothers Had Access to Cranial Surgery in Bronze Age Israel

In ancient Megiddo, a city on the crossroads of major trade routes, two upper-class brothers underwent "angular notched trephination," the earliest example of its kind found in the Ancient Near East...
Marijuana and other plants have been used for medicinal, spiritual, and recreational purposes since time immemorial. The pictured Amazonian shaman uses ayahuasca ritualistically. Source: Ammit / Adobe Stock

Marijuana for All that Ails You: Cannabis in the Ancient World

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been used by humans for thousands of years for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Its versatility and effectiveness in treating a wide range of ailments...
Beautyberries (left) have revealed insights about mint family composition. Source: Left: Tom Cardrick / Adobe Stock; Right: Public Domain

Ancient Medicinal Mint Has Untapped Potential, New Research Reveals

Researchers from Michigan State University recently completed a comprehensive study of the genomes of several species of mint plants , to trace their evolutionary pathways at the chemical level...

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