Ancient Medicine VS. Westernized Medicine
Author: Samentha Amoako
This paper will discuss the uses of medicine in general and thee way it is made vs the modern way that medicine has taken its turn with in today’s society and its uses. The main key factors in this paper will display ancient medicine and where it was originally grown and how the modern day society we live in remixes and mixes the two to create the chemicals in today’s medicine that is not really beneficial to every human being. This paper discloses information on both topics and also shares the positive and negative of both ancient and modern day medicine. I came to the conclusion that nothing defeats the natural way of producing medicine and in general, nothing defeats the natural way of doing everything in a everyday life even down to the food that we eat, because even the things we consume is chemically modified and not naturally made in factories. Displaying the many ways natural remedies help society function.
Throughout my researching process within ancient medicine and its uses, one specific topic that I found very interesting was the creation of medicine in general and how it was made from the start to where it has transformed now in the future. Medicine was originally started in Egypt, Egyptians thought that gods, demons and spirits played a main role in causing and curing many diseases the human body came in contact with. Many doctors at the time believed that the spirits that got in contact with the body blocked channels in the body, and affected the way the body functioned which caused all the negative diseases to occur in a human. In that ancient time Egyptians centered everything around god, so did many other countries who relied on natural resources, it was either god or animals. The way good and bad things occurred, how people died, how they hunted for food and even the act of bearing child and providing food was based on their beliefs within god. Egyptians were very familiar with the functions of the human body from start because they are the ones who began the preservation of human bodies through what’s known as “mummification.” Archaeologists have found Papyri which is thick paper-like produced from the papyrus plant where Egyptians had documented a medium amount of medical knowledge. They found out that they had good knowledge the human functions, bone structure, and were aware of some of the functions of the brain and liver. This was originally documented in their language on the thick paper but later translated to English.
Some interesting facts they documented was (When we breathe in through our noses, the air enters our hearts and lungs, and then the entire belly. All eye diseases originate from four vessels in the forehead which provide the eyes with blood. Two vessels enter a man’s testicles and provide them with semen. The buttocks have two vessels which supply them with vital nutrients. Six vessels reach the soles of our feet. Six vessels lead to our fingers, through our arms. The bladder is connected to two vessels. They supply it with urine. The liver is supplied with liquid and air via four vessels. When they overfill the liver with blood and they cause many diseases.) All of this facts were drawn from their knowledge and understanding of the human body through experimentation, uses of natural products and trusting of god. When this paper was translated it was known to believe that the things they practiced were in fact correct due to this paper of evidence. But the ancient people of those times already knew that what they documented was the truth even if it wasn’t exactly worded in the right format because of their beliefs and the things that they’ve seen, that modern society has no idea of. From the practice of medicine in Egypt it opened doors for other countries such as Africa and India or Indonesia to follow their own practices and beliefs through different facts whether god or animals and it was also documented in their knowingly language.
The route ancient believers took to retrieve medicine, healing and food is very inspirational to me because it displays the determination, courage and faith they had in themselves, their practice and god. In those times the people of the many tribes would split up into the forest where many trees and natural resources such as different fruits as soursop was naturally grown. The groups of people ranging from young children to the eldest of the adults would call upon the god of healing, sunshine and protection over trees to cast away evil spirits and the darkness of shadows that surrounded the trees needed to retrieve the medicine. This spiritual encounter that the people of ancient times had with nature and god was very real. This was things they grew up knowing and practicing from past generations who also encountered these spiritual gifts. In the moment of calling god to cast away the factors of the darkness and evilness, they felt and known when what they asked for was done. Each person in a tribe had a special function that they were blessed with from their ancestors of the past. Since everyone had their title in the tribe, when it came to certain things needed whether it was food, medicine, of protection, everyone knew who to look for the answers being that everyone was appointed to a specialty.
Commonly used medication that were used in the ancient times consisted of Herbs, acupuncture and prayer. In the book Tales of Shaman’s Apprentice, the whole of chapter seven described in steps and process how medicine was retrieved from the tropical rainforest, from the perspectives of Shaman and his Apprentice. They were placed in the jungle ( tropical rainforest) for 3 days, the plants in the rainforest are surrounded by many insects good and bad that has the desire to feed off of the plants because that is their food. But these special plants have chemical extractions that allows insects to know not to come near because it can be deadly to them. But when digested by humans it acts in a way of healing not danger, as it is to the insects. The plants are basically protecting themselves, the chemical arrays in them can either be for nutritious values, healing purposes or just hallucinogenic when consumed by the human. For example, plant alkaloids have a very response effect on the human body, it can be used in various amounts of ways, it is a chemical compound in a plant that provides the boost to a human body as morning coffee.
Alkaloids can also produce many dangerous things that may harm the body such as nicotine, heroin, and cocaine. When choosing which medical drug is best for your situation it is known that in a rainforest where many plants are flourishing, not all may be for the benefits of the human body. Some can be produced that may harm and effect the human body in a bad way that may cause death or may spread of expose your body to many other illnesses. This is why the ancient people of those times did their research on which plants were blessed by god and didn’t have the shadows of the enemy above it. Years ago when these ancient times were current, the basic knowledge they used were off the strength of the gems their ancestors left for them. They didn’t have a lab where they were able to test out every plant and chemical on people of animals. But they still were able to deliver many healing factors that have been modified and used in many of today’s society positions. From doctors to pharmacists and surgeons, all of today’s medicine had to be derived from somewhere and that was our ancestors from ancients times who didn’t have the resources that we did to better ourselves and living situations. These medicines that our ancestors left us was retrieved from forests that they had to sleep in for many days, while traveling from foot back and forth miles long, this wasn’t an easy process but it was still accomplished to better us all.
In the modern day society that we live in today, the medicine that we use is also beneficial but can cause harm to the human body as the ancient ones did years ago. From the spreading of very well known illnesses such as cancer, AIDS and HIV or blood problems. Medicine has been used to help the effects of it spreading throughout the human body but not all has helped everyone who consumed these medications. Some has died because of the effect those type of strong drugs had on the human body. Not everyone can take all of these strong things and in the medical world that we are in today so many things are tested on our body that we don’t know anything. Even down to the food that we consume on a daily basis is made in factories across the whole world. We don’t know what we are eating nor do we know what they are made out of or the people who are making them. Not everything we consume is made naturally anymore even if it does says “organic or non GMO” on the tag. Unless it is grown in plain sight in a field where we can all witness many questions will always be raised towards the products that are being consumed by our body.
Taxol is a well known drug that was approved to treat the process of cancer in human bodies. It was first generally used to treat ovarian cancer in very advanced stages. This drug was created by the selections of plants and was formed to be the drug that it is today. But in studies it was shown that many Indians used this plant that was derived from “the yellow bark tree” to cure many things not just cancer and also that when the the leafs was extracted from these trees, they were placed directly on the spot of which were infected and that is what cured these diseases. Many medications today has been played around with and so many things has been added on that probably may not mix with the body as such ancient medicines on was. This is where many questions start to raise and many ask is natural medicine better them experimental medicine we are given today, at the ancient times and uses better than the times that we live in today?.
In China many selected facilities have 2 special doctors, one who focuses on traditional medicine that can give you natural remedies and treatments that can cure your body from special diseases you face. And the second doctor is more of a modern doctor who will be able to give you pills or certain over the counter drug store medications that are not made naturally but somewhat can also cure any diseases that your body faces. This type of option that people have in today’s society displays how not everyone trusts what is modified in the world we live in today. In the ancient times medicine was sold for big money as todays medical care society is. To get treated from natural causing diseases cost over 10,000 dollars and that doesn’t include the medication that you will be prescribed that you also have to buy. In the world we live in today everything revolves around money that the benefits of the people in that situation, not the one who’s suffering but also the one who is helping. Everyone wants to gain something before they are ready to help. When chemotherapy is given to a cancer patient the drug that is commonly used is taxol, the same drug that was used in ancient time to cure advanced ovarian cancer. This drug that is very advanced is used in the first stages of chemo, to see how one’s body will react to it. Knowing that this type of drug is very strong on the human body, it breaks down every cell in the body in order for the body to produce new ones, though it sounds simple it isn’t. The process of damaging every cell in your body is very risky because that is the type of functions our body run on. This shows how we may over expose certain medications and its uses. Not every drug has to be use in a harsh way. The body of a human being is very delicate and many things can spread by the act of one drug causing a bad infection which is the effect that taxol can also have on the human body, it is the process of damaging before the body itself is ready to heal itself.
Now here is where we decided which process we stand with, on my personal point of view being that I am from West Africa (Ghana). Many of our medications are brewed from natural resources such as trees and plants.. So within this whole debate I stand on the natural remedy side that our ancient ancestors created. When I am sick the natural remedy that I love to use is ginger or garlic and beats. All this natural things are what help fight infections within the body. Placing finger on an infectious cut, you will see bubbling starting to occur and you will also feel the burning sensation of the infectious area being cleaned within the one swipe of the ginger. Though modern medicine is also tested on animals and possibly humans, I think that it is important for your body to be exposed on things that are not modified by chemicals that cause certain reactions. Because what if there were no more chemical drugs to be produced anymore? Then that’s when people would want to be exposed to the natural remedies.
When we were born we weren’t born with chemicals, even down to the process of feeding babies, everything is done naturally. If a mother is able to feed her child through breast feeding which is a natural way of making sure a child is fill through the own body of a mom, then so many natural things can also be done to cure the human system without needing chemical drugs. Yes it would be a hassle getting and growing them but in a way it would be beneficial. If everyone in society was able to purchase seeds that they will be able to grow in their own backyard and have access too. Then imagine how beneficial it would be to everyone, to have the access of natural grown medicine in the palm of your hands. This is factors people in head office, and in charge should think about because society is needed to act as one, to operate at one, so that we can all live long and pass these certain type of gems down to our future children as our ancient ancestors did.
But, there are people who believe that modern medicine is the best and I do see where they are coming from because they think that the medicine used today is up to date and that we now live in an era where technology has helped us in a very special way. That things are only getting better and better from here. Yes, things are learned in order to make them better but I feel like over exposing something and trying to make it better is two different types of situations. So many things are being tested on harmless animals in the forest that are spreading and causing death amongst them. Also, natural remedies are also being mixed to chemical drugs that may not always agree with every human body. So that it why I say that we go the natural route so that we would be able to avoid all of these what if situations and be able to live a healthy life without having to question what it is that your body is actually consuming or what it is made out and the amount of people or animals it was tested on.
I wish that we lived in a world where natural remedies were something people was open to, the idea of growing medicine by its roots and not consuming things we have no idea what they were made from. Though modern medicine has its benefits, I also do believe natural medicine also has its benefits and it overthrows modern day medicine.
Plotkin, M. J. 1994. Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rainforest. New York: Penguin.
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The MNT Editorial. 2016. What Is Ancient Egyptian Medicine? Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/medicine/ancient-egyptian-medicine.php
The MNT Editorial. 2016. What Is Modern Medicine? Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/medicine/modern-medicine.php, March 22, 2018
Gawande, Atul. 2017. What Should Medicine Do When It Can’t Save You? The New Yorker. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/02/letting-go-2, March 22, 2018