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Ancient Egyptian Medicine

Ancient Egyptians have helped a lot in providing a great deal of knowledge and evidence about ancient medicine to modern historians. This knowledge has been discovered in the many papyrus scrolls which have been found in archeological excavations in Egypt. In ancient Egypt, illnesses were not just cured by magicians and the medicine man but also by doctors and physicians. Excavations have revealed plates showing physicians and an illustration about Imenhotep who was the physician to King Zozer shows how he was worshipped as the god of healing after his death due to the medicinal knowledge he possessed.


People in ancient Egypt were aware of pharmaceuticals as well, even though they still firmly believed that wellness and sickness were unceasing battles between good and evil. People in ancient Egypt knew how to prepare drugs from plants and herbs like fennel, cumin, caraway, aloe, safflower, glue, pomegranates botanical, mineral substances, and linseed oil. Also, other substances which were used for making drugs included copper salts, plain salt, lead, eggs, liver, hairs, milk, animal horns, fat, honey, and wax.

Ancient Egyptian Prescriptions

In the period of the new kingdom medical prescriptions were very varied and dozens of them were available for some diseases. The physician chose the most effective medicines based on the prescribed criteria. Some medicines then were fast acting while others showed their effect slowly. Also, there were drugs that were very specific to certain seasons. An example is an eye medication that could be used only at the onset of winter for the first two months and there was another one which was used two months after this while a third was applicable all year round.

Different Medicines For Different People

The age of the patients was strongly considered when deciding on a medicine. For example, when treating patients suffering from retention of urine, an adult was given a mixture of water, ale sediments, green dates, and some other vegetables, but on the other hand, a child with the same ailment was given an old piece of papyrus soaked in oil applied as a hot band around his stomach. Chemists had to very carefully consider the age of the patients while preparing the drugs. If the young patient was mature enough he could take tablets, but if he was still an infant, tablets would be dissolved into a wet nurse's milk. Some drugs derived their popularity from the fact that they were used for curing a reputed figure of the time. For example, a specific eye ointment was highly popular with ancient Egyptians, simply because it cured one of the pharaohs. It’s interesting to note that chemists during the ancient Egyptian period invented some other drugs, which were commonly known as household drugs, meant to eliminate domestic pests.

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