(C)1997-2005 (Thomas H. Frederiksen)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS - AZTEC MEDICINE
DIET OF THE AZTECS
MEDICINES USED BY THE AZTECS
If you or I get sick we see a doctor, usually follow the advise of our physician and generallyrecover. The Aztec operated in a similar matter, however, the causes of the illness were treated quite differently. You or I don't attribute our illnesses to the eruption of volcanoes or the fancy of an obscure deity that we somehow slighted, the Aztec did. Often the Aztec family would view illness in their homes as punishment or destiny with no hope for cure or reversal of the illness.
The treatmentof any illness could be approached from quite a few different angles including, physical treatment, drugs, or a spiritual cure. The herb knowledge was extensive and effective. The spiritual, or magical cures, were just as important and deserve equal study and consideration as they apply to general medical treatment.
The Aztec had a love-hate relationship with their deities and saw themselvesas mere pawns in the hands of the gods. An illness could be seen as retribution for not strictly following a rather extensive set of daily homage routines. Sickness may also be inflicted for no other reason than the amusement of a particular deity.
Another form of divine intervention in the health of the Aztec was pre-ordained illness. The Aztec had a well established birth sign structure, muchlike modern astrology. Babies born during certain days were expected to develop into sickly children and die early of disease. Conversely babies born on other days could expect favor from the gods and live happy, disease free lives. Should one of these favored people develop illness, he or she surely must have forgotten to properly pay homage to the gods.
In a general sense, Aztec medicalscience was on an even par with contemporary medical science of the day in Europe. Often times the Aztecs, or more specifically the Mexica, were far superior in the identification and treatment of the various ailments that affected them. Like their medical counterparts in Europe.
The Aztec practitioners tended to concentrate on treating the symptom and not the disease or cause of the illness.
Dr.Michael Meyer relates that the Aztecs were even performing "brain operations". In general, the Mexica could be considered to have been a very healthy race of people with preventive health measures and in possession of a good sense of public sanitation as a part of their daily lives.
The mental health of the Aztec was certainly in need of improvement. Considering the extent of anxiety in thedaily lives of the common individual, it is no wonder that so many of their drugs were prescribed for various stomach ailments. As a regular antacid user myself, I speak from experience when I say that anxiety affects your digestive track, and I don't even have to worry about giant rocks falling on my head or becoming claw-handed as a result of my birth sign.
The daily lives of the Aztec were soregulated and controlled that it would have been difficult to maintain any type of mental health that we would associate with. This breakdown of balance between the mind and the body could manifest itself in a number of physical ailments, and probably did.
With the exception of bleeding a patient, or setting broken bones, the Mexica concentrated on an approach to medicine, even maintainingextensivefor growing some of the drugs that they used medicinally.
Some fifteen hundred different plants, pastes, potions, and powders were catalogued soon after the conquest by a variety of historians. The Mexica were sophisticated enough to wrap flower petals around certain medicines to form a type of capsule, or "pill" for easy consumption. Many of these medicinally used plants and herbs are...