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Army Medical Practices

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Ave Civitas,

Doing research for my novel, I ran across an interesting and informative article on Accute pain management in the Roman army.
http://www.apicareonline.com/acute-pain-...oman-army/ ]


Ancient warfare involved hostilities between, among or within city-states, clans, tribes, chieftaincies, ethnic groups, empires, or with other organized collectives, by means of armed force. Periodic warfare is universal in time and place. Its causes are many and complex, but unquestionably involve microcosmic and macrocosmic factors. Organized violence causes pain, suffering and death among combatants. The Romans forged a medical system that surpassed the medical systems of most of the enemies that the Romans fought. The Roman military staff employed rapid medical treatment of wounds on the battlefield and at field hospitals, including analgesics to increase the speed of recovery. This treatment acted as a force multiplier to give an advantage in war. The alleviation of pain through the use of analgesics was a major factor in allowing minimally and moderately wounded soldiers to return to the battlefield as soon as possible.

Key words: analgesic,    immediate medical care,    combat medicine.

Editor, “APICARE

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Thank you for the excellent article. It's been a while since I've thought about medicine as it relates to the military.


Here's a fine video on the nature and surgical treatment of military wounds. I'm not certain the theory on wound management is correct, however.



If I remember correctly, opium derivatives, alcohol, and cannabis were available for some analgesia. I'm not sure that pain relief would be adequate for most invasive procedures, however. (Although Mandrake is frequently mentioned by ancient sources, its side-effects -- including confusion, agitation, nausea, etc. -- may have made its use less frequent than previously thought.)

https://books.google.com/books?id=8hIoN3Q_zOkC&pg=PA5&lpg=PA5&dq=Side-effects+of+Mandrake&source=bl&ots=E4oBf4DrYR&sig=WIVOY_uF3O9boNEdrY7NAroGZIU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjahs-0kd_dAhUIUa0KHRB1DbU4KBDoATADegQIBhAB#v=onepage&q=Side-effects of Mandrake&f=false


guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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It's as well to remember that Roman military practice was very dependent on the availability of Greek medics and physicians. Also, despite some advanced practices for the age, there was a great deal of their methodology that was still mired in ignorance and religion. Prayers were just as important as medicines. Many medicines for that matter probably harmed the patient more than they helped, something that would hamper medical practises into recent times. The Romans were very able, via their Greek experts, of treating wounds. Not so good at anything else.

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