A quantitative assessment of ancient therapeutics: Poppy and pain in the Hippocratic Corpus

P. Prioreschi, R. P. Heaney, E. Brehm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

6 Scopus citations


In an effort to develop a method to ascertain whether ancient physicians used certain drugs because of their efficacy or for other reasons (random process, tradition, etc.), the authors have devised a statistical test (Efficacy Quotient - EQ) to evaluate ancient therapeutic data quantitatively. They have applied the Efficacy Quotient to clarify whether the Hippocratic physician used poppy (opium) in the treatment of pain because he had recognized that it had analgesic properties or whether he used it as he used others plants devoid of such properties. The authors conclude that the analgesic properties of poppy were not recognized at the time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Drug Discovery

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