Egyptian way of thinking about medicine.

Eygptian Pharmacists

The Greeks are credited with being the first to practice “science-based medicine and effective pharmacy around the 5th century BC. The first pharmacopoeia had a list of 600 drugs and how to acquire and prepare the ingredients. New evidence is emerging that the Egyptians during the time of the pharaohs knew about pharmacy. The biggest obstacle to discovering more of what they actually knew is the limited supply of papyrus and difficulty in translating.

One researcher, Jackie Campbell, after five years of analyzing four key papyri has identified 284 ingredients- various parts of 134 species of plants , 24 animals and 28 minerals. When she compared these ingredients to what was still in use in the 1970’s she found that 62 percent were still in use.

For example, for indigestion they prescribed an antacid of powdered limestone (calcium carbonate) where we take magnesium carbonate. For diarrhea they dispensed kaolin or powdered carob to absorb water and toxins from the gut or a plant containing hyoscine, an alkaloid that relaxes smooth muscle and reduces gut motility.

Yet there were some odder prescriptions one of which is crocodile dung as a contraceptive. It is suspected that when it is applied as a pessary its acidity would be spermicidal. Personally I would think this remedy worked because any woman using crocodile dung would naturally repel any interested male.

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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