April 14, 2009

Medicinal Wine Used In Ancient Egypt

When your great grandmother used to sneak a sip of elderberry wine "to fight off the flu," she may have just been keeping with the medical wisdom passed down for hundreds of generations from the ancients.

Experts say that new research shows that the ancient Egyptians used a variety of medicinal herbs in their wines as far back as 3150 B.C. 

A group of researchers from the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology led by Patrick E. McGovern has examined the chemical composition of 5,000 year-old pottery shards in Egypt and found that they contained traces of herbs and resins that had been mixed with the grape wine that the containers used to hold.

Researchers note that these findings merely confirm the written records that the Egyptians left behind.  Numerous hieroglyphics explicitly stated their use of medicinal herbs in beer, wines and other drinks as pleasant way of fighting off common illnesses and easing daily ailments.

The effects of tree resin in preventing a variety of diseases was common knowledge to ancient physicians as far east as China and was still in use as late as the Middle ages, reported the anthropologists in Tuesday's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Other homeopathic components detected in the pottery included blue tansy, "“ known to calm the nervous system and provide allergy relief, "“ artemesia, "“ a member of the wormwood family, good for liver and kidney function as well as treating anemia "“ as well as balm, senna, germander, thyme, coriander, sage and mint.

The ancient Egyptians have long been recognized as having possessed a highly sophisticated knowledge of medicine and body systems, though like many of the ancients they were also known to have been extremely superstitious in their beliefs regarding the ultimate origins of diseases.


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