Human beings got pretty advanced pretty quickly. Our explorations into the ruins of ancient empires like the Romans reveals wondrous advancements like running water, and other conveniences we associate with modern life.
Medicine, too, started off early. Native Americans chewed white willow bark to relieve toothaches. The ancient Greeks used it as a painkiller, as well. Willow bark became the basis for one of the most widely-used painkillers of the modern era – aspirin. There are a lot of these ancient techniques that are either still in use today, or have evolved to become part of modern medicine. Digging through medical texts over the ages – especially before the Dark Ages – is incredibly revealing. For all they got wrong, the journey to understand the human body has been long and fruitful.
But in the course of figuring ourselves out, we’ve made some horrifying missteps. From using insanely powerful drugs on an everyday basis to medical procedures that are closer to mutilation than surgery, we’ve done some awful things to ourselves in the name of being healthy. As we take a look at “treatments” like radium, drilling holes in peoples’ heads, and sheep dung, it’s worth taking a moment to wonder – what will medicine look like 100 years from now? And what are we doing now that will be just as horrible to the people of the future as lobotomies and leeches are to us?