What Was Medicine Like in Ancient Times?

Medicine has come a long way from what it used to be in ancient times. While we have advanced technologies and modern medicine, our ancestors relied on natural remedies and cures. Here’s a look at what medicine was like in ancient times.

Ancient Egyptian Medicine

The ancient Egyptians were pioneers when it came to medicine. They believed that the body was made up of channels and that illnesses were caused by blockages in these channels. To cure illnesses, they used natural substances such as honey, frankincense, and myrrh.

Herbs and Plants

Herbs and plants played an important role in Egyptian medicine. They used garlic to treat infections, aloe vera for skin ailments, and coriander for indigestion. They also believed in the healing powers of certain plants such as the lotus flower which they used to alleviate pain.


The Egyptians were skilled surgeons. They performed surgeries such as circumcision and trepanation (removal of part of the skull) with precision. They even had specialized doctors who treated specific conditions such as dentists who treated dental problems.

Ancient Greek Medicine

The Greeks made significant contributions to medicine that are still relevant today. Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, was a Greek physician who emphasized the importance of observation and diagnosis.

The Four Humors

The Greeks believed that the body was made up of four humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile – each associated with different personality traits. According to their theory, an imbalance in these humors caused illness. To restore balance, they used methods such as bloodletting (removing blood from the body).

The Hippocratic Oath

Hippocrates created the Hippocratic Oath which is still recited by doctors today. The oath emphasizes the importance of ethics and professionalism in medicine.

Ancient Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine dates back to around 2000 BCE and is still widely used today. It is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the vital energy that flows through the body.


Acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice that involves inserting needles into specific points on the body to restore balance and alleviate pain. It is still used today to treat a variety of conditions.

Chinese medicine also relies heavily on herbs and plants. They use ginseng for energy, ginger for digestion, and chamomile for relaxation.

Ancient Indian Medicine

Ayurveda, which originated in India over 5000 years ago, is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world. It focuses on achieving balance between mind, body, and spirit.

Ayurvedic Practices

Ayurvedic practices include massage, meditation, and yoga. They also use herbs such as turmeric for inflammation and ashwagandha for stress relief.

Panchakarma Therapy

Panchakarma therapy is an Ayurvedic treatment that involves cleansing the body through techniques such as herbal enemas and nasal irrigation.


While ancient medicine may seem primitive compared to modern medicine, it was based on observation and trial-and-error which helped pave the way for modern medical practices. Today we still rely on natural remedies such as herbs and plants for certain ailments while also utilizing advanced technologies for more complex conditions.