A Short Review on the History of Anesthesia in Ancient Civilizations

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 BS Student at Department of Anesthesiology, Alborz University of Medical Science, Alborz, Iran

2 BS Student at Scientific Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran; BS Student at Department of Anesthesiology, Tehran University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran

3 PharmD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of History of Medicine, School of Traditional Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Science, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Anesthesia is one of the main issues in surgery and has progressed a lot since two centuries ago. The formal history of surgery indicates that beginning of anesthesia backs to the 18th century, but reviewing the history of medicine shows that pain management and anesthesia has a long history in ancient times. The word “anesthesia”, comes from Greek language: an-(means: “without”) and aisthēsis (means: “sensation”), the combination of which means the inhibition of sensation. The oldest reports show that the Sumerians maybe were the first people that they cultivated and harvested narcotic sedative like the opium Poppy as early as 3400 BC and used them as pain killers. There are some texts which show us that Greek and Mesopotamia’s doctors prescribed alcoholic beverages before their surgeries. In the Byzantine time, physicians used an elixir known as “laudanum” that was a good sedative prior the patient’s operation. Ancient Persia and China were as the biggest civilizations, of which medicine anesthesia had a great role in. Also, Persian and other Muslim physicians developed the field of anesthesiology in early medieval era which is called Islamic Golden Age.

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