Other Drugs and Their Uses
In the book, The Chemical Muse, the author, Hillman states that the Classical world’s greatest resource was drug craft (33). According to Hillman, monk, kings, popes and scholars kept a watchful eye on the Classical world’s complex prescriptions and recipes. Moreover, Classical Greek and Latin medical texts are filled with recipes for simple to compound treatments with ingredients ranging from botanical species, animal products, and elusive minerals and plant’s roots, leaves, or seeds which were then crushed and then mixed and added to alcohol, oil or water and applied topically or orally (34).
For the most part, drugs in Antiquity worked two ways. The first way, they suppressed the growth of microorganisms and parasites. Second, they altered things such as blood pressure and increased gut motility and dried mucous membranes (52). Today, there is a loss of interest in using ancient botanicals to cure modern diseases; meanwhile, Greek and Roman medicine would have been ineffective without botanical drugs (54).
Ultimately, Romans and Greeks did not only use medications, but recreational drugs as well (55). The drugs of choice in the Ancient world were: opiates, anticholinergics, and psychotropic fungi. Recreational drugs were highly visible in the daily life of Antiquity. Merchants, traders, drug vendors and herb collectors sold psychotropics, sedatives, and analgesics along with quasi-professional advice on matters of dosage and how to prepare which was not considered odd to be consumed by the public. Most people would take the recreational drugs orally in wine; however, some administered it to themselves through subcutaneous and intravenous injections, snorting, or using suppositories anally or vaginally (59). The Greco-Roman world also used fumigation which was a common activity for recreational, religious or medical settings (59).