"There is no medicine in prehistoric times which we would recognise today"

Chapter 1

An essay I wrote for homework, and I am interested in the subject as well, thought it might be fun to share.

by: queer
There are many similarities and differences between prehistoric medicine and modern medicine which we recognise today, and I will be discussing these, giving points to argue each side. Medicine through time has not always been progressive, there has been continuity, turning points, even regress, and I will be explaining this in more detail.

Firstly, there were treatments such as herbs, plants, steam, charms and practical remedies in prehistoric medicine, much of which are still used today. Herbs are used in herbal teas to relax people, charms are used such as healing crystals that people believe will help. Furthermore, steam is present to help with colds, and practical methods still work: trepanning is used but in a slightly different way.

Despite this, there are many treatments that are vastly different than those in prehistoric times. We no longer use animal parts for example, and we are way less superstitious. Practical remedies are a lot safer, especially since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which helped to cure lots of infections, but preventing them by safer methods has been insanely helpful in pushing the average life span higher and higher. Penicillin was definitely a turning point.

We have mainly developed safer ways of doing the things that people did in prehistoric times, and we know more about the things that realistically work - people may think prayer helps because that is their religion, but if they pray they still know to get physical help if they are seriously ill or injured otherwise they will not get better. Also instead of just choosing a root for example, and hoping it is the right amount for the person, we now have the exact quantity of the drug that we need so we know that it will work for each person according to them.

In conclusion, it does not make sense to say that there was "no medicine in prehistoric times which we would recognise today", because there is a lot of things we do that we have still kept the same: the power of prayer (belief that we will get better does help), and herbal remedies which are not as effective as well developed drugs like penicillin or paracetamol, but they still work, and the methods that they used in prehistoric times have simply been improved, like trepanning is used for a different reason but we still use it. So lastly, I do not agree with the above statement.


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