8 Ancient Medicine Cure-Alls: Can Our Ancestors Heal Modern Illnesses?


Does it sound too good to be true? For thousands of years, humans used elements of nature to fend off disease and distress. While many of the science-based modern studies are yet to be done on ancient medicine, centuries of tradition offer a different story. Discover some of the most popular ancient cure-alls, and see which panacea is right for you.

  1. Curcumin is one of the main components of turmeric, a spice that has long been used to create the bright yellow curries of Indian cuisine. It is believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties – and in lab tests, it seems to block the growth of certain tumors.
  2. Maca – Hailing from high in the Andes Mountains of South America, maca powder comes from a plant that once powered the ancient Inca civilization. Incredibly rich in the essential amino acids that build muscle, maca is prized by bodybuilders and offers a natural energy boost.
  3. Za’atar – Reputed to be a brain-boosting supplement (and the same as the Biblical plant “hyssop”), this ancient panacea is a mix of mainly wild oregano with additional ground components (thyme, marjoram, sumac, sesame seeds, and/or salt). Oregano is full of the phenol carvacrol, which is an antiseptic, antioxidant and fungicide. Recent studies on rats showed that carvacrol helps the brain to regulate the levels of serotonin and dopamine.
  4. Ginger – Originally from Southeast Asia, ginger was used by the ancient Chinese, Indians and Romans. Effective in relieving gastrointestinal distress, ginger reduces gas while relaxing and soothing the intestinal track. Research shows that this antioxidant also has anti-inflammatory properties and inhibits the formation of inflammatory compounds. It can also provide nausea relief for pregnant women.
  5. Cacao – Better known as the main ingredient in modern chocolate, raw cacao is another treasure from ancient Mesoamerica. Made from cold-pressed cocoa beans, cacao promotes healthy circulation and lowers blood pressure. It is full of polyphenols and antioxidants, which have been show to help prevent numerous diseases.
  6. Black Cumin Seed Oil – Used in the Middle East for centuries, this anti-inflammatory oil offers powerful immune support with a wide spectrum of active compounds. It promotes the effectiveness of your body’s own healthy inflammatory response – to identify and destroy abnormal cells and dangerous microbes.
  7. Matcha– This finely ground premium green tea powder has been sipped in Japan for centuries by Buddhist monks as an aid to meditation. Originally from China, matcha provides a calm yet alert state of mind – and many say it improves focus, boosts metabolism and enhances immunity.
  8. Lucuma – Extremely sweet and packed with nutrients, lucuma powder comes from a subtropical fruit that is native to Ecuador, Chile, and Peru. Ancient Mesoamerican peoples consumed the fruit for its medicinal properties, and modern studies have shown it to have anti-aging properties – enhancing skin repair and wound healing.

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Photo by Arian Zwegers