Sickness and Heath in the Ancient Lower Pecos

Healing often involved medicinal plants as well as ceremony and prayers

Healing often involved medicinal plants as well as ceremony and prayers

Everybody gets sick. Everybody gets injured. At one time or another in our lives, we all experience illness and some sort of wound, just as every generation before us has. The people of the ancient Lower Pecos faced the same physical ailments we do, in most cases, but dealt with them in very different ways, with more or less success. Many ailments were beyond their control, however, and people simply suffered.

This article begins a short series on medicine and healing as it might have been 4000 years ago in the desert of the Lower Pecos.  We know from skeletons and other evidence that the people rarely lived more than 35 years.  That is not to say there were never any “old” people.  There were. But many died before their hair turned gray. medicine_manIf sickness did not kill them, then a broken bone would. We can probably assume that infant mortality was high due to insufficient diets at times or other issues.  Pregnancy and birth were undoubtedly fraught with complications. Falls could kill. Teeth would rot.

While we may never know exactly how disease affected ancient people, we can assume they faced some of the same ailments we know, like cuts and burns.  This article begins a short series about the Lower Pecos Medicine Kit as it might have been 4000 years ago.  I will look at various common ailments and suggest ways that may have been treated.

Future articles will discuss ways to ameliorate arthritis, poor digestion, burns, wounds, broken bones, tooth decay indiansleep problems, and issues concerning blood. Before you get too excited, however, let me make clear that I am not a trained health care provider, herbalist, or medicine woman.   All I can tell you is what I think would have been likely. I invite you to join in the discussion as we progress, and especially to help keep me from going astray. Believe me, I’ve got friends who will set me straight!

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