The world before antibiotics: nowadays, it is difficult to even imagine that once a banal injury – a cut, wound or burn-could cost a person his life due to infection and subsequent blood poisoning. And such serious diseases as pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis or syphilis almost always meant a death sentence for the patient and the previous long torment. During the epidemics of plague, cholera, typhoid fever and even influenza (“Spanish flu”), entire cities died out: the total number of victims of such outbreaks is estimated in tens and hundreds of thousands.
The history of the development of modern civilization is written in the blood of numerous soldiers who fell on the battlefields. Even now there are pockets of armed confrontation on our planet, and for many centuries before that, humanity was constantly shaken by internecine strife and territorial disputes. A minor injury, in which vital organs were not touched, still very often became the cause of death, because people did not suspect anything about bacteria and sanitary standards.
Today, you can buy broad-spectrum antibiotics in every pharmacy and defeat almost any infection in a matter of days. But this opportunity has appeared relatively recently: some 80 years ago, medicine had only a few effective antiseptics and antibacterial drugs at its disposal, and now there are hundreds of them. In a short time, pharmaceutical science has made a real breakthrough, but this achievement, oddly enough, has negative consequences.
The world before antibiotics. History.
From the school course on the history of ancient times, we all once learned about the terrifyingly short life expectancy of people. Men and women who miraculously reached the age of thirty were considered long-lived, but it would be difficult to call them healthy: by this age, the skin was covered with numerous defects, teeth rotted and fell out, and internal organs worked hard due to a meager diet and hard physical labor.
Infant mortality was on an alarming scale, and the death of women from “puerperal fever”was common. It is enough to look at the biography of famous people of the XVI-XIX centuries to see confirmation of this sad fact: for example, in the family of the great writer and playwright Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol there were 12 children, including himself: 6 girls and 6 boys. Of these, only 4 sisters survived to adulthood, and the rest of Gogol’s brothers and sisters died either immediately after birth or in childhood from diseases. And no wonder, because by the time the writer passed away, the inventor of antibiotics had not even been born yet.
However, at all times people have tried to find a remedy for infectious diseases, without even realizing their infectious nature and the danger of contact with carriers. And what could be a source of medicines, like the gifts of nature? From herbs, fruits, seeds, roots and mushrooms, ancient healers tried to experimentally obtain healing medicines for a variety of diseases – often unsuccessfully, but sometimes they were lucky. The most effective recipes passed from generation to generation, and traditional medicine developed. And everything new is, as you know, well-forgotten old. Therefore, the true inventor of antibiotics probably lived and healed people for many centuries before the appearance of countless boxes of pills on modern pharmacy shelves.
Ancient History and the Middle Ages
It is known that about two and a half millennia ago, Chinese monasteries used a gruel made of fermented soy flour to treat purulent wounds and cuts in soldiers who were injured in a sword fight. The meaning of the technique is obvious: yeast-like microorganisms contained in this improvised “antiseptic” prevented the reproduction of pyogenic bacteria, and thereby prevented blood poisoning.
Representatives of another wise ancient civilization and the builders of the pyramids, the Egyptians, also had the inventor of antibiotics in their ranks. However, he did not work for a good purpose – one of the court doctors came up with the idea of tying the slaves ‘ ankles damaged by shackles with bandages with moldy bread. This made it possible to prolong the lives of the unfortunate and make them work in the quarries longer.
In medieval Europe, a similar method of treating purulent wounds was born: they were treated with cheese whey. The principle of operation is the same-yeast against bacteria. Of course, then the doctors did not know either of these two concepts, but this did not prevent them from applying bandages soaked in serum to the festering wounds received by soldiers on the fields of numerous battles between the kingdoms. The person who first came up with this method of treatment can also rightfully be called the inventor of antibiotics.
Did the inventor of antibiotics “give us a pig” by inventing penicillin back in 1928? Of course not. But, as is often the case with a formidable weapon that fell into the hands of a person, antibiotics were misused. Humanity should understand that with a competent approach and the use of antibiotics, this is the best remedy that could only be invented.