Herbal derivatives

The first anesthesia (a herbal remedy) was administered in prehistory. Opium poppy capsules were collected in 4200 BC, and opium poppies were farmed in Sumeria and succeeding empires. The use of opium-like preparations in anaesthesia is recorded in the Ebers Papyrus of 1500 BC. By 1100 BC poppies were scored for opium collection in Cyprus by methods similar to those used in the present day, and simple apparatus for smoking of opium were found in a Minoan temple. Opium was not introduced to India and China until 330 BC and 600–1200 AD respectively, but these nations pioneered the use of cannabis incense and aconitum. In the second century, according to the Book of Later Han, the physician Hua Tuo performed abdominal surgery using an anesthetic substance called mafeisan ("cannabis boil powder") dissolved in wine. Throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas a variety of Solanum species containing potent tropane alkaloids were used, such as mandrake, henbane, Datura metel, and Datura inoxia. Classic Greek and Roman medical texts by Hippocrates, Theophrastus, Aulus Cornelius Celsus, Pedanius Dioscorides, and Pliny the Elder discussed the use of opium and Solanum species. In 13th century Italy Theodoric Borgognoni used similar mixtures along with opiates to induce unconsciousness, and treatment with the combined alkaloids proved a mainstay of anaesthesia until the nineteenth century. In the Americas coca was also an important anaesthetic used in trephining operations. Incan shamans chewed coca leaves and performed operations on the skull while spitting into the wounds they had inflicted to anaesthetize the siteIn the famous 10th century Persian work, the Shahnameh, the author, Ferdowsi, describes a caesarean section performed on Rudabeh when giving birth, in which a special wine agent was prepared as an anesthetic by a Zoroastrian priest in Persia, and used to produce unconsciousness for the operation. Although largely mythical in content, the passage does at least illustrate knowledge of anesthesia in ancient Persia.