The marvels of modern-day medicine continue to grow as our capacity to create new technology and understand the human body marches forward. But despite this, some creative remedies have withstood the test of time because of their efficacy and simplicity. Some are used in tandem with other treatments, while some are even considered to be the go-to treatment for specific ailments.
In a world that often seems to throw a lofty concept of “holistic” medicine, doctors and medical professionals can cut through the din to reveal what truly works. And even though some of these aren’t necessarily complicated or what we might consider “civilized,” the results don’t lie.
A great example of perhaps a more squeamish solution to blood clotting is leeches. A common practice in ancient Greece that Hippocrates popularized, leeches were used as a popular form of bloodletting. By the 1830s, bloodletting as a practice was all the rage: leeches were used to treat all sorts of ailments worldwide. And while advances in science proved that specific applications of the parasite weren’t as effective as initially thought, they’ve recently seen a resurgence in use for post-surgery recovery. They’re also known to work miraculously well to assist with reattaching and stitching up lost fingers or ears since they produce a protein known to halt any blood clotting, allowing the wound time to heal properly.
Another possibly shocking example of an ancient remedy can be traced all the way back to a medical textbook from over one thousand years ago. The recipe is for an “eye salve,” which lists onion, garlic, wine, and of all things, cow’s bile, which should be combined and left alone for a precise amount of time: nine days. While it might be easy to put this off as something akin to a fictional magic potion recipe, this eye salve can actually kill MRSA faster than even the most potent antibiotics.
While the fauna might have held some answers to medical secrets over the years, so to have the flora. The bark of the willow tree was a suggested treatment by Hippocrates and the ancient Egyptians. It was proven so effective that the drug company Bayer started selling it as an over-the-counter painkiller. Modern medical research is also starting to show that the willow tree has even more healing potential. Some research suggests that aspirin could reduce the risk of strokes or even help protect our bodies against cancer.
When it comes to holistic care, it’s incredible to think how much early civilizations got it right. While we might think of this time of humanity as less sophisticated when compared to today, science has proven these and many other unorthodox approaches to medical care right.
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Written for Passport Health by CJ Darnieder. CJ is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago. He is an avid lover of classical music and stand-up comedy and loves to write both in his spare time.