Long before pharmacies popped up on every street corner to sell overpriced junk food and terrible children’s toys, scientists and physicians have toiled in the natural world to discover new remedies and methods of healing. Through millennia, pharmacology relied upon trial and error, or entirely accidental discovery of natural medicines. Though considered primitive, the methodology of the ancients is not unlike our modern approaches. Even the “primitive” medicines of the ancients are beginning to be understood and appreciated for their efficacy.
It is believed that the first known medicinal treatises date as far back as 35th century BC. Written in Ancient Egypt, these documents propose remedies to common problems – some bizarre and some surprisingly scientific. As most documented science throughout antiquity, these solutions were typically attributed to divine blessing, disregarding any scientific explanations.
In India, one of the world’s first medicinal treatises surfaced around the 6th century BC. Written by an Indian physician named Sushruta, this document outlines the Ayurvedic treatments practiced by the people of ancient India. Unlike practices of antiquity, this ancient Indian medicine takes a much more holistic approach to health. Between the origins of Ayurveda and the world’s first pharmacies of Afghanistan, the debates of germ theory, and even the ubiquitous drugstores of modernity, the basic principles of Ayurveda remain unchanged and as relevant as ever.