21 Apr
2009

The first recorded reference to pain remedies is in the Egyptian Papyri. In the Ebers Papyrus (circa 1550 BC), reference is made to the prescription of opium by the goddess Isis for Ra’s headache. Thus, in their quest for lessening their suffering, the ancient Egyptians submitted themselves to such largely ineffective and often harsh procedures as purging, puking, poisoning, puncturing, cutting, cupping, blistering, bleeding, bleaching, heating, freezing, sweating and shocking. They even used an instrument with saw-like edges to remove a circular piece of bone from the skull — a process known as trephining.

The prevailing medical belief in the seventeenth century was that the brain was connected by delicate threads — the nerves. It was thought that pain was caused by a process similar to that of pulling these fibres. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the nervous system was described and defined.

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