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Neanderthals already knew the healing properties of naturopathy
The upper jawbone of a Neanderthal man from El Sidrón in Spain reveals: Our relative chewed poplar, a source of aspirin.
Wool rhinoceros and pain reliever
New analyzes not only show that the Neanderthals ate woolly rhinos, but that they treated themselves with pain relievers and antibiotics. This is proven by their plaque.
Scientists examined the DNA on the plaque of five different Neanderthals from Spain, Belgium and Italy.
Oldest analyzed tartar
This dental plaque, between 42,000 and 50,000 years old, is the oldest that has ever been genetically analyzed.
He reveals that Neanderthals were omnivores. The Spy Cave's Neanderthal lived primarily on meat, as bones of mammoths, woolly rhinos, reindeer and horses found in the cave indicated. But he also ate mushrooms, as the plaque analysis confirmed.
Vegetarians with mold
But the Neanderthals from Spain mainly ate nuts, mushrooms, moss and poplar. The tartar also pointed to mold.
Tooth abscess and parasites
One of El Sidrón's Neanderthals suffered from a tooth abscess and an internal parasite that caused diarrhea. This person treated himself.
His tartar showed residues of poplar, and this tree contains the pain reliever salicylic acid, a natural building block of aspirin. Natural antibiotics were also found in dental plaque, according to Cooper, the investigator, "40,000 years before we developed penicillin."
Yarrow and chamomile
As early as 2012, researchers led by Karen Hardy from the University of Barcelona found that Neanderthals who died 50,000 years ago had eaten yarrow and chamomile.
Conscious use of medicinal plants
Since these plants are not very nutritious and also taste bitter, the researchers suspected that the Neanderthals ingested them specifically to cure diseases.
The first known broken arm
Research has long occupied diseases of Neanderthals: the 70,000-year-old skeleton after which the species is named from the Neanderthal near Mettmann near Düsseldorf suffered from an arm fracture. He healed, but the arm remained shortened and was angled unnaturally to the body.
Dangerous big game hunt
Neanderthal skeletons very often show fractures in the shoulder area as we know them today from rodeo riders - from accidents with bark and horses. Researchers conclude that hunting large animals such as horses, aurochs or bisons was a high risk for our relatives.
However, the Neanderthals also proved to be particularly robust. This is how most of the broken bones healed. Most researchers also conclude that the Neanderthals treated the fractures.
Shamanism: the archetype of medicine
Some anthropologists suspect that the Neanderthals used shamanic healing techniques, the oldest form of medicine and psychotherapy.
The evidence for medicinal plants in dental plaque also shows that their medical knowledge went beyond magical thinking.
Nor was it the placebo effect.
Did Neanderthals die from our diseases?
The Neanderthal was so close to us that Homo Sapiens mingled with it, and today we carry Neanderthal genes. This also made him susceptible to diseases that Homo Sapiens brought with him when he immigrated to Europe from Africa and met the Neanderthals there.
Disease reservoir Homo Sapiens
"People who emigrated from Africa have probably been an important reservoir for tropical diseases," says researcher Charlotte Houldcroft.
No defense against our epidemics
She continues: “The confrontation with tropical diseases could have been catastrophic for the Neanderthal populations in Eurasia. Because their immune system had never come into contact with these diseases before, they were much more susceptible. ”(Dr. Utz Anhalt)