Ancient Egyptian medicine

As human beings we’ve come along way from the ancient world, we have undergone a drastic change in the ways we live and go about our daily lives due to our technological advances. But the issue of medicine has not really improved in the way we treat, cure and understand certain diseases and how easily they target us. Even with everything we know about disease we still have some like cancer which we cant seem to permanently fight off and because of that we see that medicine then and now really seen enough of a change for us to fully

eliminate disease and epidemics from spreading and further harming us. First, in modern medicine our ideas on how we base our understanding of disease as our body being invaded by certain pathogens and all we do is prescribe certain drugs that can either eliminate or temporarily subdue the effects of the disease/illness. Because we are so heavily relied on drugs we are forced to experiment with what we have to try to combat the diseases we do not understand.

For example, in the film Awakenings we see that Dr. Malcolm Sayer tries to help out some catatonic patients who have a disease that they cant seem to understand the cause but he is determined to try to do something for the people by giving them a drug that he doesn’t know what it will do to them but tries it out anyway “ I don’t know what it will do to him, if anything” Marshall. “Awakenings”, Columbia picture corporation, 1990”. In the film the disease was not understood and was temporarily treated but not cured and allows us to see how our western medical system runs not for many other similar diseases.

ancient Greece the idea of disease causation differs that of modern ways because Hippocrates, a Greek physician, based the belief of medicine on nature and the earth itself he came up with the Humural theory which was constructed of some aspects of life for example, physical imbalance, temperament, disease, lifespan, work, and lastly the ability to have family. He wrote On Airs, Water, and Places in which he explains how disease is an internal imbalance of the body, which is caused by external factors such as the seasons of the year. In the text

Hippocrates states “ These are the diseases which attack them in the summer; but in winter younger persons are liable to pneumonia”(Francis Adams, translator PT 7) and with this he expresses his idea of how environmental changes affects disease construction. In the ancient world the role of physicians and patients differed that of how we view them now for example ancient Egypt’s physicians were actually their priests and were highly valued.

They were believed to be able to cure anything with certain medicine and prayer and in order for the patient to get better his best option would have been to go to the person closest to that divinity (Kavey, 8/28,2014). In modern medicine we don’t really have that connection between physician and “God” but there are some who believe that there is some divine intervention that occurs when it’s needed.

Modern western medicine has flaws about how we handle what we don’t understand such as how to cure diseases like cancer and HIV. We understand what it is and what it does but the cure for it is still not there all that we have to combat it is chemotherapy. We see an example of

this in the film Wit which shows the story of Vivian, an ovarian cancer patient which undergoes several treatments but realizes that they are causing her more harm than good with the following quote from the film“ I am not in isolation because I have cancer, because I have a tumor the size of a grapefruit, no I am in isolation because I am being treated for cancer ” Nichols “Wit,” HBO, 2001. What we have to fight these types of cancers are just experimental radiation treatments that may or may not work.

Some beliefs of ancient Egyptian medicine included the ability to accurately diagnose and surgically operate on patients but as seen in the Edwin Smith Papyrus: a clinical reappraisal of the oldest known document on spine injuries “ It is fascinating to see the shift of treatment goals over time.

Whereas ancient Egyptian triage medicine considered the likelihood of survival as the most important outcome of interest, nowadays the quality of life is and functional outcome measures are the primary interest. ” (Edwin Smith Papyrus, 43–44). Although they understood how to operate and diagnose they really didn’t understand how to correctly treat and would turn to religion as a scapegoat to what they didn’t know how to deal because the belief was that malevolent Gods caused certain diseases/ illnesses in you as a result of not praying enough or doing wrong in some way.

What we are able to see now is that because it was the ancient world most of the people were injured and sick due to the extreme amount of physical labor that they did and certain degrees of malnutrition. (Kavey, 8/28/14) There were other ancient civilizations such as the Indian, they are known for the evolution of Ayurvedic medicine, which means “ science of life”.

Even now in present United States the idea is present and explained in the article From Ancient Medicine to Modern Medicine: Ayurvedic Concepts of Health and their Role in Inflammation and Cancer “Ayurveda is considered a complementary healthcare option, with many Americans employing Ayurvedic elements such as massage, mediation, or cleansing therapies. ” (Prachi Garodia et al, pg. 1). Ayurvedic medicine also has a book created called Charak, which includes the idea of a divine intervention just like the beliefs in Egypt we see this in another quote from the ancient medicine to modern medicine article which states that “Included were internal and external causes of illness.

Charak states that the first cause of illness is the loss of faith in the Divine. In otherwords, when a person does not have the experience that God is inside us, and, outside- in all things, this separation of vision creates a gap in which longing or suffering for oneness of vision occurs. ” (Prachi Garodia et al, pg. 4). We see the relationship between both Indian and Egyptian civilizations because of their belief in a connection between divinity and health for example, not praying enough receives punishment in ancient Egypt with illness or harm and in India we also see that a loss of faith in the divine also affects you negatively and is really up to them to make you batter and forgive you.

Overtime the idea that we the idea that divine identities has an affect on how our patients heal or don’t heal still is present depending on each person and how they go about having faith. There are cases where so “miracles” happen and people believe that their god heard their them praying and I further believe that it is still around because we have modern hospitals that have Chapels and other places for people to go and pray for their loved ones to improve in health.

Another thing would be that we tend to say that if a loved one died it was because “ God wanted them to be in a better place “ which further allows us to understand how faith plays more of a role sometimes than actual medication. In conclusion, we see that throughout history we’ve had a problem in how to correctly and effectively eliminate disease.

The way we approach what we don’t understand seems like we take steps back instead of forward by sometimes ineffectively treating patients in experimental ways that our doctors know have a low success rate. And although in the year 2014 we feel that were a lot more superior and advanced than people in the ancient world we are wrong because still see similar issues in the medical field and our most effective treatment to a lot of diseases seems to be to stay hydrated and wait for the disease to be fought off not necessarily eliminated completely.

We also see that because of ineffective medicine we sometimes turn to divine forces nd faith rather than expecting what we think we know will help. Even after this long we still turn to methods used in ancient times such as Ayurveda, and the way that Indian and Greek medicine believed in the imbalance of the body internally due to external factors and doing things like not eating like we are suppose to and because of this we are obligated to find a cure for the diseases that have been around and mutating for years now.

Hippocratics, “On Airs Waters, Places,” Francis Adams (Translator), MIT internet classics archive, http://classics. mit. edu/Hippocrates/airwatpl. html Prachi Garodia et al, “From Ancient Medicine to Modern Medicine: Ayurvedic Concepts of Health and their Role in Inflammation and Cancer,” Journal for the Society of Integrative Oncology vol 5 no. 1 (winter, 1990), p. 1-15. Edwin Smith Papyrus, http://www. reshafim. org. il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/smithpapyrus. htm Penny Marshall (Director) “Awakenings,” Columbia Pictures, 1990. Mike Nichols (Director) “Wit,” HBO, 2001 Kavey topics in History of Science, Technology & Medicine History 131, Fall 2014 John Jay College 8/28/2014