Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Neanderthals may have used "medicines" page

  1. #1
    Lewis's Avatar
    Lewis is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2,488

    Neanderthals may have used "medicines"

    It's so often a "may have" with the Neanderthals, of course.

    Anyway, the University of York has been performing mass spectometry on Neanderthal dental calculus and:

    [The] research facility, said: "The evidence indicating this individual was eating bitter-tasting plants such as yarrow and camomile with little nutritional value is surprising. We know that Neanderthals would find these plants bitter, so it is likely these plants must have been selected for reasons other than taste."
    Hence, perhaps they'd been eaten for their medicinal properties.

    Also:

    molecular evidence for cooking and exposure to wood smoke or smoked food in the form of a range of chemical markers including methyl esters, phenols, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons found in dental calculus.
    Study reveals Neanderthals at El Sidron, Northern Spain, had knowledge of plants' healing qualities

  2. #2
    Owly's Avatar
    Owly is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,823
    Not surprising considering that other species will also eat things that are not part of their normal diet because of health benefits. I can see early humans/Neanderthals building on this intuitive knowledge and beginning to build a tradition that would share and pass along the understanding of what certain unpalatable foods might provide healthwise.
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

    Owly's Journal

  3. #3
    Lewis's Avatar
    Lewis is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2,488
    Quote Originally Posted by Owly View Post
    Not surprising considering that other species will also eat things that are not part of their normal diet because of health benefits. I can see early humans/Neanderthals building on this intuitive knowledge and beginning to build a tradition that would share and pass along the understanding of what certain unpalatable foods might provide healthwise.
    Sure. I believe cats will eat grass to make themselves vomit, so even a creature as mentally limited as that knows in an inchoate way when its stomach needs voiding and how to do it.

  4. #4
    Owly's Avatar
    Owly is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,823
    What's interesting to me is how we evolved from the instinctive desire to eat certain foods when we were ill to being able to recognize those things, remember them, and teach them to others. It's an evolutionary step that vastly expanded our capacity to care for our health because we could then pass knowledge to each other instead of relying only on what was inborn or learned by imitating parents' behaviour. The ability to teach other members of the species is interesting (and it's not totally unique to humans either).
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

    Owly's Journal

  5. #5
    Lewis's Avatar
    Lewis is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2,488
    It's also interesting to note that our reason can lead us astray.

    Gary Taubes reports an experiment in Good Calories, Bad Calories. Researchers found that if they made a rodent diabetic and then put it in a cage with a wide choice of food it would eat only fat and protein until its condition stabilized. It just knew what to do instinctively.

    A human, of course, would go ask his doctor; the doctor would consult (highly dubious) medical theories; and the sick person would eat plenty of carbohydrate on the doctor's instructions, thinking (reasonably) that the doctor must know best. Unfortunately, just because we are able to have a theory of something, we're also capable of following a wrong theory.

    There are, I tend to think, interesting parallels with what Michael Oakeshott said about Rationalism (by which he meant a kind of unscrupulously impatient abstract reasoning) in politics:

    Canadian Conservative Forum - Requested Essay

    Canadian Conservative Forum - Requested Essay

    I don't want to politicize the discussion. I merely found the parallel between a certain way of thinking about politics and a certain way of thinking about health as interesting. I think the urge to replace experience (or what Sally Fallon would call "tradition") with simplistic theories can lead us astray.

    That alert and subtle man Stefansson has some thoughts leading in that direction in The Fat of the Land. For example:

    ... a revolt of modern dietitians against the traditional dominance of pemmican as an emergency ration and was in defense of the right of laboratory technicians to prefer the results of their experiments to the testimony of experience.
    There he's actually speaking of experiment rather than theory, but how you set up an experiment and how you interpret it tends to be driven by your theory. And Stefansson's language suggests you cannot ignore "the testimony of experience". Experience seems to be an important term for Stefansson: the word occurs over fifty times in that short book.

  6. #6
    Owly's Avatar
    Owly is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,823
    I know a huge number of people on the political left who have a similar approach to health, so I don't think that one's political stance is necessarily consistent with one's approach to health. Or perhaps it's more about whether one tends more toward the anarchist/libertarian end of things as opposed to the authoritarian, rather than the traditional left/right distinctions. I also don't want to launch into a debate about politics, but I would think that being in the lower half of the political compass would be more relevant than one's positioning on the horizontal axis of the graph.
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

    Owly's Journal

  7. #7
    Lewis's Avatar
    Lewis is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2,488
    Quote Originally Posted by Owly View Post
    I know a huge number of people on the political left who have a similar approach to health ...
    Absolutely. They have an (entirely justifiable) suspicion of commerce, which helps. :-)

  8. #8
    Alex Good's Avatar
    Alex Good is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    The Maritimes
    Posts
    3,576
    Primal Blueprint Expert Certification
    Quote Originally Posted by Owly View Post
    What's interesting to me is how we evolved from the instinctive desire to eat certain foods when we were ill to being able to recognize those things, remember them, and teach them to others. It's an evolutionary step that vastly expanded our capacity to care for our health because we could then pass knowledge to each other instead of relying only on what was inborn or learned by imitating parents' behaviour. The ability to teach other members of the species is interesting (and it's not totally unique to humans either).
    Yeah but that trait comes with a sacrifice. Now in order to know things we NEED to learn them. We have a very limited set of instincts compared to most animals.

    Conversely, it's entirely possible that modern life simply suppresses our instincts. I would like to see if a child raised in the wild would go after medicinal plants intuitively.
    In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •