Quoted from The Hundred-Year Lie:

Doctors in ancient Egypt typically used honey on wounds and burns to assist in healing, though they apparently had no idea it was harmful bacteria they were destroying. Observes ethnobotanist Mark J. Plotkin: “A spate of recent publications has highlighted the successful use of honey to treat infected wounds and burns that do not respond well to conventional treatment.” Other Egyptian medical texts from the period of 166 BC have been found advising that spoiled barley bread, which had a medicinal effect similar to penicillin, be pressed onto infected wounds.

Through trial and error and intuition the ancient Egyptian healers discovered what works and continued using those remedies for two thousand years. They employed pomegranate as an effective astringent, used lotus root for its morphinelike analgesics, and they knew how to suture and cauterize. […]

In ancient Mesopotamia around 2000 BC, Assyrian and Babylonian medicine had also reached a surprisingly high level of sophistication. Two Illinois university academics, JoAnn Scurlock, a professor of ancient history, and Burton Andersen, a professor of medicine, studied the medical texts surviving from that period in the original cuneiform, the first known system of writing. They produced a nine-hundred-page book, Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine, which concluded that people living four thousand years ago received medical treatment far superior to what Americans got when George Washington was alive in the eighteenth century.

Among the dozens of revelations in their 2005 book:


  • They cleaned surgical wounds using bandages treated with ginger and cedar, both antiseptics; they treated night blindness with raw liver, which we now know corrects the vitamin A deficiencies that cause night blindness; they used marijuana to treat pain and nausea, just as we do for cancer patients today; they treated women with irregular monthly cycles using a medicine made from date pits, which we now know contains estrogens.

Fitzgerald, Randall. The Hundred-Year Lie: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That Are Destroying Your Health (p. 208-09). Plume. Kindle Edition.