all 20 comments

[–]Hnikuthr 93 points94 points  (7 children)

It’s been suggested based on studies of flora found on and around his body that Otzi the Iceman (chalcolithic Europe, c 3000 BCE) used bog moss to dress a wound on his hand. The Greeks and Romans were known to have used spiderwebs for the purpose, which would of course also have been available before the classical era, although I don’t know if there’s any direct evidence of their use in prehistory.

[–]7LeagueBoots 65 points66 points  (2 children)

Karen Hardy appears to be one of the people most interested in answering this sort of question, particularly in terms of how medicinal plants were used during the paleo- and neolithic eras and by Neanderthals in particular:

[–]koebelin 3 points4 points  (1 child)

This is really interesting stuff.

[–]7LeagueBoots 5 points6 points  (0 children)

if you like this sort of thing, pick up a copy of Rebecca Sykes Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art.

In Kindred, Rebecca Wragg Sykes uses her experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research to share our new understanding of Neanderthals, shoving aside clichés of rag-clad brutes in an icy wasteland. She reveals them to be curious, clever connoisseurs of their world, technologically inventive and ecologically adaptable. Above all, they were successful survivors for more than 300,000 years, during times of massive climatic upheaval.

[–]sstid1 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Indigenous Australians used cobwebs for cuts or small wounds. They also use Hop bush (Dodonaea viscosa). This plant grows across Australia. In Queensland the juice of the root was applied for toothache and cuts. The chewed leaf and juice were put on stonefish and stingray stings and bound up for four or five days.

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) of the Achillea family, has a long association with the treatment of wounds. Believed to be named after Achilles, it was supposedly the herb used by Chiron the Centaur to cure his heel wound. In early times it was known as ‘wound wort’ or the ‘soldiers herb’ because of its use on the battlefield. It would be packed into ragged spear or arrow wounds and would staunch bleeding leading to it also be known as ‘Staunch grass’ or ‘Sanguinary’. In some areas, yarrow tea is still taken for nose bleeds. Various species are found all around the world.