How Was Smallpox Treated in Ancient Times?

Smallpox is a highly infectious disease caused by the variola virus. It is characterized by the appearance of fluid-filled blisters on the skin, which can be very painful and cause scarring.

Smallpox has been around for thousands of years, and it has been a major cause of death and disability throughout history. In this article, we are going to explore how smallpox was treated in ancient times.

Ancient Treatments for Smallpox

In ancient times, people had limited medical knowledge and resources compared to what we have today. Therefore, they used various methods to treat smallpox that were based on traditional beliefs and practices. Some of these treatments included:

Herbal Remedies

Herbs were commonly used in ancient times to treat various illnesses, including smallpox. Some herbs believed to be effective in treating smallpox were:

  • Echinacea
  • Licorice root
  • Chinese rhubarb
  • Ginkgo biloba

These herbs were believed to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.


Quarantine was another method used to control the spread of smallpox in ancient times. Infected people were isolated from healthy individuals to prevent the disease from spreading. This was particularly important during epidemics when thousands of people could be infected.


Bloodletting was a common medical practice in ancient times that involved removing blood from a patient’s body using leeches or other instruments. It was believed that this would balance the body’s humors and help cure various illnesses, including smallpox.


Smallpox has been a deadly disease throughout history, but people in ancient times had limited resources to treat it. They relied on traditional methods such as herbal remedies, quarantine, and bloodletting to control the spread of the disease and alleviate its symptoms. While these methods may seem primitive compared to modern medicine, they were still effective in their own right and played an important role in the fight against smallpox.