What Is Ancient Egyptian Medicine?

Ancient Egypt (3300BC to 525BC) is where we first see the dawn of what, today, we call “medical care”. The Egyptian civilization was the first great civilization on this planet. Egyptians thought gods, demons and spirits played a key role in causing diseases. Many doctors at the time believed that spirits blocked channels in the body, and affected the way the body functioned.

Their research involved trying to find ways to unblock the “Channels”. Gradually, through a process of trial and error and some basic science, the profession of a “doctor of medicine” emerged. Ancient Egyptian doctors used a combination of natural remedies, combined with prayer.

Unlike prehistoric peoples, ancient Egyptians were able to document their research and knowledge, they could read and write; they also had a system of mathematics which helped scientists make calculations. Documented ancient Egyptian medical literature is among the oldest in existence today.

The ancient Egyptians had an agricultural economy, organized and structured government, social conventions and properly enforced laws. Their society was stable; many people lived their whole lives in the same place, unlike most of their prehistoric predecessors. This stability allowed medical research to develop. In this society, individuals were relatively wealthy, compared to their ancestors, and could afford health care.

They had temples, priests and rituals in which deceased people were mummified. In order to mummify you have to learn something about how the human body works. In one mummification process, a long hooked implement was inserted through the nostril, breaking the thin bone of the brain case, allowing the brain to be removed. A significant number of priests became medical doctors.

Ancient Egyptian doctors knew that the body had a pulse, and that it was associated with the function of the heart. They had a very basic knowledge of a cardiac system, but overlooked the phenomenon of blood circulating around the body – either because they missed it, or thought it did not matter, they were unable to distinguish blood vessels, nerves, or tendons.

The ancient Egyptians were traders, and travelled long distances, coming back with herbs and spices from faraway lands. Their relatively high standard of living gave them free time, which they could use for observing things and thinking about them. Medical research involves patience and observation.

The Channel Theory and how the Gods impacted on human health

The Channel Theory – this came by observing farmers who dug out irrigations channels for their crops. They believed that as in irrigation, channels provided the body with routes for good health. If the channels became blocked, they would use laxatives to unblock them.

They thought the heart was the center of 46 channels – types of tubes. To a certain extent, they were right, our veins, arteries, and even our intestines are types of tubes. However, they never came to realize that these channels had different functions.

The Gods were the creators and controllers of life, the Egyptians thought. They believed conception was done by the god Thoth, while Bes, another god, decided whether childbirth went smoothly. Blockages in the human “channels” were thought to be the result of the evil doings of Wehedu, an evil spirit.

The channel theory allowed medicine to move from entirely spiritual cures for diseases and disorders, towards practical ones. Many medical historians say this change was a major turning point, a breakthrough in the history of medicine.

Doctors gave “good” and “bizarre” medical advice

Some recommendations made by physicians were fairly sound – they advised people to wash and shave their bodies as measures to prevent infections. They told people to eat carefully, and to avoid unclean animals and raw fish.

Some of their practices were bizarre, however, and most likely did more harm than good. Several medical prescriptions contained animal dung, which might have useful molds and fermentation substances, but were also infested with bacteria and must have caused many serious infections.

Ancient Egyptian medicine was highly advanced for its time

Egyptian doctors were sought after by kings and queens from faraway lands because they were considered as the best in the world.

Archeologists have found Papyri (thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant) where Egyptians had documented a vast amount of medical knowledge. They found that they had fairly good knowledge about bone structure, and were aware of some of the functions of the brain and liver.

The Ebers Papyrus (Papyrus Ebers)

These are medical documents which are thought to have been written around 1500 BC, and most likely include retranscribed materials dating back to 3400 BC. It is a 20-meter long scroll, which covers the equivalent of approximately 100 pages. The Ebers Papyrus, along with the Edwin Smith Papyrus, are the oldest preserved medical documents in existence.

Papyrus Ebers
The Ebers Papyrus explaining the best
treatment for asthma

Georg Moritz Ebers (1837-1898), a German novelist and Egyptologist, discovered this medical papyrus at Thebes (Luxor) in 1873-74. It is now in the Library of the University of Leipzig, Germany.

The Ebers Papyrus was has over 700 remedies and magical formulae, as well as scores of incantations aimed at repelling demons which cause disease. However, it also has evidence of sound scientific procedures.

The authors wrote that the center of the body’s blood supply is the heart, and that every corner of the body is attached to vessels. The functions of some organs appear to have been overlooked, while the heart was the meeting point for vessels which carried tears, urine, semen and blood.

The Book of Hearts, a section of the Ebers Papyrus, described in great detail the characteristics, causes, and treatment for such mental disorders as dementia and depression. It appears they viewed mental diseases as a combination of blocked channels and the influence of evil spirits and angry Gods.

There is even a section on family planning, contraception, how to tell if you are pregnant, and some other gynecological issues. They wrote about skin problems, dental problems, diseases related to the eyes, intestinal disease, parasites, and how to surgically treat an abscess or a tumor. The ancient Egyptians clearly knew how to set broken bones and treat burns.

Below are some quotes from the Ebers Papyrus (adapted into familiar modern day phrases:

  • From the heart there are vessels to all four limbs, to every part of the body. When a doctor, Sekmet priest or exorcist place their hands on any part of a person’s body, they are examining the heart, because all vessels come from the heart. The heart is the source, and speaks out to every part of the body.
  • When we breathe in through our noses, the air enters our hearts and lungs, and then the entire belly.
  • The nostrils have four vessels. Two of them provide mucus while the other two provide blood.
  • The human body has four vessels which lead to two ears. Into the right ear enters the “breath of life”, while into the left ear the “breath of death” enters.
  • Baldness is caused by four vessels to the head.
  • 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, they cause many diseases.
  • The lungs and spleen are connected to four vessels, which like the liver, are supplied with liquid and air.
  • The liquid and air that come out of the anus come from four vessels. The anus is also exposed to all the vessels that exist in the arms and legs when they are overflowing with waste.

Egyptian doctors were adept at some basic surgical procedures

Egyptian physicians were trained and good at practical first aid. They could successfully fix broken bones and dislocated joints.

Basic surgery, meaning procedures close to the surface of the skin (or on the skin) was a common and well learnt skill. They knew how to stitch wounds effectively. They did not, however, perform surgery deep inside the body. They had no effective anesthetics, only antiseptics. Performing surgery deep inside a human body would have been impossible.

They had excellent bandages, and would bind certain plant products, such as willow leaves, into the bandages for the treatment of inflammation.

Circumcision of baby boys was common practice. It is hard to tell whether female circumcision existed; there is one mention, but several experts believe the text has not been translated properly.

Egyptian doctors said there were three types of injuries:

  • Treatable injuries – these were dealt with immediately.
  • Contestable injuries – these were deemed not to be life-threatening, i.e. the doctor believed the patient could survive without his intervention. Patients would be put under observation. If they survived, the doctor would decide in his own time whether to intervene.
  • Untreatable ailments – the meaning is clear; the doctor would not intervene.
Ancient Egyptian medical instruments
Ancient Egyptian inscriptions illustrating bone
saws, scales, lances, dental tools, suction
cups, knives and scalpels

Surgeons had an array of instruments, such as pincers, forceps, spoons, saws, containers with burning incense, hooks and knives.

Prosthetics did exist, but archeologists say they were probably not that practical and were used either to make deceased people look more presentable during funerals, or were simply for decorative purposes.

Ancient Egyptian public health

The aim of public health is to protect the community from the spread of disease, and too keep everybody as healthy as possible. The provision of water so that people can wash themselves, their animals and their homes is a vital part of preventing the spread of disease. Cleanliness was an important part of Egyptian life; however, it was promoted for social and religious reasons, and not health ones.

Their homes had rudimentary baths and toilets. Personal cleanliness and appearance were an important part of life; many even wore make-up around their eyes to protect from disease. Most people used mosquito nets during the hot months – we cannot know whether this was to protect against malaria and other diseases, or simply because they did not want to be bitten.

Priests washed themselves and their clothing and eating utensils regularly. But they did it for religious reasons. Although hygiene practices did help protect their health, this was not their reason. Cleanliness was an appeal to their gods.

There was no public health infrastructure as we know of today, with sewage systems, proper medical care and public hygiene.

Magic and religion to treat illnesses

Everyday life in Egypt involved beliefs and fear of magic, gods, demons, evils spirits, etc. Luck and disaster were caused by angry celestial beings or evil forces. They believed that if illnesses and physical and mental disorders were partly caused by supernatural forces, then magic and religion were required to deal with them and treat people.

Anthropologists, archeologists, and medical historians say there did not appear to be a clear difference between a priest and a doctor in those days. Many healers were priests of Sekhmet, and used science as well as magic and incantations when treating people. (Sekhmet was an Egyptian warrior goddess).

The religious and/or magic rituals and procedures probably had a powerful placebo effect, which were likely seen as proof of their effectiveness.

Some treatments used products or herbs or plants that looked similar to the illness they were treating, this is known as simila similibus (similar with similar). This practice has existed all over the world, even in modern alternative medicine (homeopathy, treating like with like). In Egyptian times ostrich eggs were used to treat a fractured skull.

The medical profession had a structure and a hierarchy

The earliest ever record of a physician was Hesy-Ra, 2700 BC, who was “Chief of Dentists and Doctors” to King Dioser.

The first female doctor was probably Peseshet 2400 BC, who was known as the supervisor of all female doctors.

The top doctors worked in the royal court. Below them there were inspectors who would supervise the proper actions of doctors. There were specialists, such as dentists, proctologists, gastroenterologists, and ophthalmologists. A proctologist was called “nery phuyt” which means “shepherd of the anus”.

References

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/medicine/ancient-egyptian-medicine.php

Ancient Arab Medicine Goes Online

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As Egypt hints at an Arabic spring in science, Western museums and institutions are highlighting the rich Arabic roots of science past. I wrote a few weeks ago about a new exhibit on Arabick roots at the Royal Society. Now comes a contribution from the Biblioteca Alexandrina and the  Wellcome Library:

The Wellcome Library is pleased to announce the launch of Wellcome Arabic Manuscripts Online, a digital manuscript library created in partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and King’s College London Department of Digital Humanities.

Arabic medicine was once the most advanced in the world, and now digital facsimiles of some of its most important texts have been made freely available online. The unique online resource, based on the Wellcome Library’s Arabic manuscript collection, includes well-known medical texts by famous practitioners (such as Avicenna, Ibn al-Quff, and Ibn an-Nafis), lesser-known works by anonymous physicians and rare or unique copies, such as Averroes’ commentaries on Avicenna’s medical poetry…

Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, expressed his enthusiasm for the project: “Providing global access to our collections is at the heart of our mission to foster collaborative research, and we are delighted to see these particular treasures become freely accessible online. We are grateful to the Library of Alexandria and Kings College London, whose partnership in this project has enabled us to extend the availability of these rare materials to the countries of their origin.”

Funded by the JISC and the Wellcome Trust, the Wellcome Arabic Cataloguing Partnership (WAMCP) was initiated in 2009 with the aim to make the Wellcome’s Arabic manuscripts available and to establish a standard in Arabic manuscript cataloguing and display.

References

http://www.wired.com/2011/07/arab-medicine-goes-digital/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_medicine

Black Cumin Seed Extract – An Ancient Healing Remedy

Black cumin seeds (Nigella sativa) have long been used as a powerful remedy against major illnesses in nearly every major medical tradition…from Ayurveda to Chinese herbalism to ancient Egyptian and Greek medicine.

The earliest written reference to black cumin (also called “blackseed”) is found in the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament (28:25-27). Here, the holy prophet Muhammad calls blackseed “a remedy for every illness except death.”

Now, science also confirms that blackseed is one of the most powerful medicinal plants known to man.black cumin seed oil

Several studies have also shown that black cumin seed extract may help fight cancer. In one recent study, black cumin seed oil was potent against pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest and most difficult to treat of all cancers.

In the hundreds of studies conducted on black cumin, the seeds have been shown to contain compounds that fight disease by boosting the body’s production of…

  • Bone marrow
  • Natural interferon
  • Immune cells

And the Sloane Kettering hospital website has recently published exciting details on current anti-cancer research using black cumin seed oil.

Very few botanicals have shown the effectiveness of black cumin against a wide array of diseases and health conditions.

What is Black Cumin?

Black cumin is a member of the buttercup family. When whole, the seeds are dark, thin, and crescent shaped. They contain more than 100 chemical compounds, some of which are still unidentified.

The primary active compound in black cumin seed is crystalline nigellone. Other important active ingredients include:

  • Thymoquinone
  • Beta sitosterol
  • Myristic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Palmitoleic acid
  • Stearic acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Linolenic acid
  • Arachidonic acid
  • Protein
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous

Black Cumin Boosts Immunity and Health

Like the well-known herb Echinacea, black cumin is a powerful immune booster. But black cumin works very differently than Echinacea. Unlike Echinacea, black cumin does not negatively impact autoimmune disorders, and therefore can be used by those who suffer these conditions.

Black cumin is effective against allergies…multiple sclerosis…cancer…tuberculosis…and AIDS. Black cumin is also effective against liver problems, digestive imbalances, and asthma.

Black Cumin in History

  • Oil of black cumin was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, and was used by Cleopatra for its valuable health and beauty benefits.
  • Hippocrates, the grandfather of modern medicine, considered black cumin a valuable remedy for digestive disorders.
  • Ibn Sina, the author of the famous Canon of Medicine, reports that black cumin stimulates the metabolism and supports recovery from dispiritedness and lethargy.
  • Ayurvedic medicine uses black cumin for a wide variety of diseases, including hemorrhoids, hepatitis, fever, diarrhea, cough, and tapeworm.

Modern Scientific Research on Black Cumin

Since 1959, black cumin has been examined in more than 200 different studies at universities and laboratories.

Research conducted at the Cancer Research Laboratory of Hilton Head Island in South Carolina showed that oil of black cumin fought cancerous tumors without the negative side effects chemotherapy.

The Hilton Head research showed that black cumin…

  • Increased the growth rate of bone marrow cells by a staggering 250%
  • Inhibited tumor growth by 50%
  • Stimulated immune cells and raised the interferon production (which protects cells from the destructive effect of viruses)
  • Has strongly antibacterial effects
  • Lowers the blood sugar level (essential for the treatment of diabetes)

In animal studies, two-thirds of mice given black cumin seed oil survived beyond 30 days despite deliberate efforts to induce cancer…while none of the mice in the control group survived.

Black cumin is especially effective for aggressive cancers whose growth depends on angiogenesis (the physiological process involving the growth of new blood vessels).

Dramatic Results for Asthma and Allergies…and Many Other Conditions

German research has shown that 70% of patients with allergic conditions—including pollen and dust allergies—benefit from treatment with black cumin seed oil. Long-term use (6 months or longer) often brings outstanding results.

Other uses of black cumin seed oil include for…

  • Acne
  • Colds and flu
  • Lethargy
  • Nervous tension
  • Tired legs muscles
  • Backache, arthritis, bruises, and rheumatism
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Colic (babies)
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin fungus

Exceptional Health and Beauty Benefits with Internal and External Use

Experts often recommend taking one teaspoon of the herb alone or with hot tea one hour before meals once or twice daily.

Black cumin seed not only supports health, but has beauty benefits as well, including stronger and more lustrous hair and fingernails after months of use. When used externally, black cumin seed can soothe psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

Black cumin seed is sometimes included in pre-made creams, or you can add it to your own favorite cream. Some people use black cumin seed oil preparations on burns or skin infections. It can also be used to moisturize the skin, relieve joint or pain, or to minimize wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Black cumin seed can be found in many Indian and Lebanese food shops and online. According to Tony Isaacs, natural health researcher and author of Cancer’s Natural Enemy, consumers should shop carefully. Isaacs warns that, “Those who use black cumin seed should check labels and product information carefully.

Black cumin is commonly referred to as black cumin seed, black onion seed, black caraway, and black sesame seed, and other names, but only Nigella sativa is true black cumin.

References

http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/black-cumin-seed-oil/#axzz3BTgUj9aK

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/black-seed-remedy-everything-death

Archangel Metatron’s Cube in Sacred Geometry

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QUESTION: “Why do you use Metatron’s Cube in your logo?”

Answer: All the Shapes in Creation

In sacred geometry, an archangel named Metatron oversees the flow of energy in a mystical cube known as Metatron’s Cube, which contains all of the geometric shapes in God’s creation and represents the patterns that make up everything God has made. These duties tie in with Metatron’s work overseeing the Tree of Life in Kabbalah, where Metatron sends creative energy down from the top (the crown) of the tree toward all the parts of creation.

Here’s more about Metatron’s cube and how you can use it for inspiration and transformation:

Metatron’s cube contains every shape that exists in the universe God has created, and those shapes are the building blocks of all physical matter, which are known as Platonic solids (because the philosopher Plato linked them to the spirit world of heaven and the physical elements on Earth). Those three-dimensional shapes appear throughout creation, in everything from crystals to human DNA.

In her book Metatron: Invoking the Angel of God’s Presence, Rose VanDen Eynden writes that studying Studying sacred geometry “leads one to an understanding of how Creator has structured the physical world around us. Within this plane, certain patterns emerge that point to its unity and and connection to a Divine Mind that created it. Timeless geometric codes underlie seemingly disparate things, showing the parallels between patterns in snowflakes, shells, flowers, the corneas of our eyes, the DNA molecule that is the building block of human life, and the galaxy itself in which Earth resides.”

Metatron’s cube “contains all the geometrical patterns known in science,” writes Ralph Shepherd in his book Beautiful Schools. As a symbol of how God has made shapes fit together throughout creation, the cube represents the way God has designed people’s bodies and souls to fit together, Shepherd writes. “The cube represents the three-dimensionality of space. Within the cube lies the sphere. The cube represents the body with our third-dimensional reality, of manifested thought. The sphere within represents the consciousness of spirit within us, or, as is commonly known, our soul.”

Balancing Energy

The cube is an image of God’s energy flowing through Metatron to all the many parts of creation, and Metatron works hard to ensure that the energy flows in the proper balance so that all aspects of nature will be in harmony, believers say.

“Metatron’s Cube helps us realize the harmony and balance of nature,” writes VanDen Eynden in Metatron. “Since it depicts an equilibrium in the six directions represented within it. … Metatron’s Cube can be used as a visual focal point to connect with the archangel, or it can be used as a concentration tool for meditations that promote peace and balance. Place an image of the cube anywhere you wish to be reminded of the archangel’s loving, balancing presence.”

A Tool for Inspiration and Transformation

People can derive inspiration from Metatron’s cube and also use it for personal transformation, say believers.

“Ancient scholars believed that by studying sacred geometry and meditating on its patterns, inner knowledge of the Divine and our human spiritual progression can … be gained,” VanDen Eynden writes in Metatron.

In her book Archangels 101: How to Connect Closely With Archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Others for Healing, Protection, and Guidance, Doreen Virtue writes that Metatron uses his cube “for healing and clearing away lower energies. The cube spins clockwise and uses centrifugal force to push away unwanted energy residue. You can call upon Metatron and his healing cube to clear you.”

Virtue later writes: “Archangel Metatron has insights into the malleability of the physical universe, which is actually composed of atoms and thought energy. He can help you work with universal energies for healing, understanding, teaching, and even bending time.”

Stephen Linsteadt writes in his book Scalar Heart Connection that, “Metatron’s cube is a symbol and a tool for personal transformation. According to Abulafian Kabbalists, the proper method of gazing at Metatron’s cube leads to the image called ‘Throne of Glory,’ located at the heart. In other words, gazing at the ‘Throne of Glory’ means to listen deeply with the ear within the chamber of our heart so we can connect to the Infinite. In the Kabbalah tradition, the heart can realize its nature as the mediator between the power and the beauty inherent in both the finite and the Infinite. Metatron’s cube contains many geometric symbols for the unity of the finite with the infinite.”

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metatron’s_Cube