INTERNAL MEDICINE IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Sep 22, 2010

INTERNAL MEDICINE IN ANCIENT EGYPT

A good description of angina pectoris (heart attack) is demonstrated in the Ebers Papyrus:

“shouldst though examine a patient with stomach disease suffering from pain in the arms, in the breast, and on one side of the stomach, say: “Death threatens’” and “If thou examinst a man for illness in his cardia, and he has pains in his arm, in his breast, and in side of his cardia, and it is said of him: it is w3d illness, then thou shalt say thereof: it is due to something entering the mouth it is death that threatens him. Thou shalt prepare for him: stimulating herbal remedies …. “.

In our modern practice of cardiology nowadays, physicians are aware of the radiation of this type of pain, and its frequent mimic to stomach pain.

Cough was treated by inhalation of honey, cream, milk, carob, colocynth and date kernels. Some treatment of is mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus that is thought to be for asthma. The same papyrus describes an interesting apparatus for inhalation therapy:

“….. You should then bring 7 stones and heat them on fire. Take one of them, place parts of these drugs over it, cover it with a new jar with a pierced bottom. Introduce a tube of reed through this hole and put your mouth on this tube so that you swallow its fumes. The same with every stone … “.

Joint pain was treated by ointments containing fat, oil bone marrow, gum or honey as a base. To this were added flour, natron, onion, cumin, flax, frankincense or pine. Application of flax seed (Linseed) or animal fat (as snake or lizard) is still used today in the Egyptian countryside as an ointment for rheumatic pains. Diagnosis and treatment of gout were also described in the Ebers Papyrus

“Another to treat the toe if it is painful”.

The Edwin Smith Papyrus contains a description of the brain and its pulsation. Physicians were able to correlate it with paralysis. That was affirmed 1200 years before Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who thought the brain was nothing but a gland. The Ebers Papyrus has 12 prescriptions for headache, and three others in the Hearst Papyrus. One of those preparations was prepared by Isis herself to the god Ra:

“A sixth remedy that Isis made for Ra himself to eliminate the disease that is in his head: fruit of coriander …… made into a mass, honey is mixed with it, the head is bandaged therewith so that it goes immediately well with him”.

Migraine was considered a special entity and needed special notice. It was treated with the fish Siluris (an electric cat fish) in fat and oil.

Trepanning (making holes in the skull to relief pressure from within) was practiced in ancient Egypt. Numerous skulls at the faculty of medicine museum in Cairo show well- delineated circular holes in the frontal bones. Signs of perfect healing at the edges denote that the procedures were performed during life, and the patient survived enough time to allow healing. Examination of the overlying bone (and the scalp in a mummy) suggest that surgical procedures have been undertaken.

Remedies to cure constipation were abundant, in the form of

”Berries of castor oil tree, chew and swallow down with beer in order to clear out all that is in the body”.

If this was not effective, then add

“Leaves of castor oil plant 1/4, dates of male palm 5/6, Cyperus grass 1/16, stalk of Puppy plant 1/16, Coriander 1/16, cold beer 1/2, keep moist, strain,and take for four days”.

Diarrhea was stopped by

“Green onions 1/8, freshly cooked Gruel 1/8, oil and honey 1/4, wax 1/16, water 1/3, cook and take for four days”.

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