The beginnings of medicine can be explained
in several ways, simply because all we have to rely upon are
ancient stories and legends. In the beginning according to Western
theological tradition the first humans were without any illness
or injury, as the earth was paradise or Eden.
The trouble started
when the Eve and then Adam disobeyed God and sin entered the
world. You see, up till that point they were immortal. The apple
contained the the first poison (sin) and when taken by man, the
result was an illness that led to the death of all mankind. It
has been getting worse ever since.
Who said an apple a day keeps
the doctor away. There are several stories written from the
ancient world of a beginnings without suffering, due to magic or
However the beginnings
of surgery and anaesthesia were like medicine, inextricably
linked with ancient magic and ancient religion. You see, Surgery
had never been defined as a separate field of medicine, and was
in ancient times and up until the discovery of Anaesthesia,
considered to lowly a task for a trained physician to perform, so
was left to lesser-educated assistants. These early operators
were performing what we obviously refer to today as "Surgery".
The landscape of the world population was
also different in Ancient times; there were fewer large town/city
population centres. The bulk of the population was spread out in
very small villages and towns where the medicine and surgery was
performed by residents, usually town elders. They used flint
(sharp stones) to make their incisions.
Any remedies and treatments that
seemed to be successful were passed down from
generation to generation. During these times there were
remedies given as a result of rumours of miracles stemming from
magical wells, streams and ponds.
These so called "ponds of purity" was said to have cured the afflicted that had visited before. In all
probability the person was washed by the fresh water, and the
drinking of uncontaminated water would eventually aid recovery from
the ailment. It would today be classed today as taking simple
hygiene precautions, that we do all the time, without really
thinking about it, however in those early days because you could not
see bacteria or viruses, in the minds of those ancient people they
did not exist and there was only one other explanation given, it had
to be Supernatural.
The people, even of
today's generations head off to a sacred river, or in the Catholic church, to places such as Lourdes for an instant cure, so although at first it sounds quite
uncivilised, it is possible to see the people of today mimicking those of history.
There is some suggestion however that the prehistoric peoples
probably used nightshades and other plants to treat certain
Cave drawings in France seen to be over 15000 years old,
show tribes doing ritual dances dressed in animal skins and even
had heads of animals, these are thought to be to ward illness
"So the Lord God caused the man to
fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of
the mans ribs and closed up the place with flesh."5