There has only been one constant companion to humanity's epic journey throughout history, and that's death. We have conquered many challenges, made massive progress, yet today, we continue to fight death or try to cheat it.
Our primary weapon has been medicine, enabling us to fight back and buy us time to defend ourselves. As we made our way to modern times, advances in science and technology helped medicine develop, becoming more precise and cutting edge.
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had to deal with a very different Planet Earth, one with a very harsh environment. People were prone to sickness as well as threats from other human beings. They, however, did not succumb to illness and death without a proper fight. We know this thanks to Otzi Man, the world's oldest and best-preserved corpse in history.
Discovered in 1991, Otzi Man died 5,300+ years ago. He is crucial to the science of medicine because his body had signs of previous injuries healed. They even found his small first aid kit that contained organic treatments. Man worked with what was available in his surroundings, including leaves, bark, herbs, and more importantly, he fought death back.
Eventually, these natural remedies were left behind, and in the last century, scientists began creating synthetic drugs to help illnesses. However, to discover more cures, we should always look at nature. For example, the Brazilian pepper tree berry could be the next big thing in treating infections. For hundreds of years, traditional and indigenous people always had a compendium of natural cures found within their area. It might be time to study them and see what we can harness.
The formal practice of medicine began with the teaching hospitals established in Ancient Greece. They were run by priests so that the deities would cure you. But eventually, by trial and error, they gave treating illness a structure and a process, that of trial and error, which doctors and hospitals still use today.
When the Middle Ages came around, we still did not know how the human body worked. The world was beset by the Black Plague and a string of other epidemics and pandemics over the next few centuries. That all changed in the 17th century with the first microscope. A whole new minute world opened up, culminating in the discovery of German doctor Robert Koch that bacteria caused tuberculosis, anthrax and cholera in the 1880s.
He proved that the germ theory of disease was correct, which turned the tide of medical history. It led to vaccines that have helped improve infant mortality rates and eradicate many of these diseases or keep them at bay.
Today, the fight against disease and death continues. Technology keeps improving, enabling us to diagnose and administer cures faster than ever. We have many to thank in history, the pioneers who took the chance to learn how to heal so that we can continue to cheat death.
Directed by: Simon George, Niall MacCormick, Celso R. García