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Arch Hellen Med, 26(1), January-February 2009, 124-129


Pain management from Homeric to Hippocratic medicine

11st Department of Pharmacology,
2History of Medicine, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

All ancient folks have dealt with the problem of pain and its management, whether caused by illness or surgical interventions. In the Homeric Epics references are made to various techniques for relieving the pain of persons injured in war. In Hippocratic medicine pain is considered to be caused by disorders in the balance of the four humors or by external factors (weather conditions, distress, nutrition, accidents). Special pharmacological substances were used to manage it, as well as the method of opposites. The use of many substances, derived mostly from plants, is recorded, which can cause analgesia, narcosis, dizziness or partial unconsciousness, when administered alone or in combinations. References are made also to special techniques, such as carotid pressure or acupuncture, applied to manage pain in antiquity. This paper presents the methods of analgesia or anesthesia used in antiquity, as they are mentioned in historical sources.

Key words: Antiquity, Corpus Hippocraticus, Drugs, Homeric Epics, Pain.

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