International Orthopaedics

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1529–1536 | Cite as

Pharmacies for pain and trauma in ancient Greece

  • Andreas F. MavrogenisEmail author
  • Theodosis Saranteas
  • Konstantinos Markatos
  • Antonia Kotsiou
  • Christina Tesseromatis
Orthopaedic Heritage



To summarize pharmacies for pain and trauma in ancient Greece, to present several pharmaceutical/therapeutical methods reported in myths and ancient texts, and to theorize on the medical explanation upon which these pharmacies were used.


A thorough literature search was undertaken in PubMed and Google Scholar as well as in physical books in libraries to summarize the pharmacies and pain practices used for trauma in ancient Greece.


Archeological findings and historical texts have revealed that humans have always suffered from diseases and trauma that were initially managed and healed by priests and magicians. In early Greek antiquity, the term pharmacy was related to herbal inquiries, with the occupants called charmers and pharmacists. Additionally, apart from therapeutic methods, ancient Greeks acknowledged the importance of pain therapy and had invented certain remedies for both acute and chronic pain management. With observations and obtaining experience, they used plants, herbs, metals and soil as a therapeutic method, regardless of the cultural level of the population. They achieved sedation and central and peripheral analgesia with opium and cold, as well as relaxation of smooth muscle fibers and limiting secretions with atropina.


History showed a lot of experience obtained from empirical testing of pain treatment in ancient people. Experience and reasoning constructed an explanatory account of diseases, therapies and health and have provided for the epistemology of medicine.


Pharmacies Pain Herbs Plants Drugs Opium Mint Sulfur Metals Soil Ancient Greece 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© SICOT aisbl 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.First Department of OrthopaedicsNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of MedicineAthensGreece
  2. 2.Department of AnesthesiologyNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of MedicineAthensGreece
  3. 3.Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of AthensAthensGreece
  4. 4.Department of PharmacologyNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of MedicineAthensGreece

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