Friday, March 7, 2014

Fact Friday: Brief History of Transdermal Delivery


From Ancent Minerals Website

Humans have been using the skin as a direct pathway into the body for centuries, and only recently have we begun to understand the science behind it.
mineral bath england
Ancient Roman Bath in Bath, England
Many people are familiar with the healing properties of saunas, used quite often for detox and general well-being. Saunas are the closest modern equivalent to the ancient practice of “balneology”, a healing method that can be traced to antiquity.
Ancient treatments in fact involved a variety of transdermal therapies ranging from mineral baths, to herbal compresses, to mud packs, to steam and sweat lodges. These topical remedies were not limited to one culture, but were a part of many of the documented societies spread throughout the world.
  • In Homer’s Odyssey he frequently mentions the bathing habits of his heroes, drawing repeated attention to the significance of the deed. In the tenth century Paul of Aegina, a great physician, discusses balneology in a medical text, specifically detailing various forms of mineral waters for different ailments.
  • The city of Bath in England took its name from the hot mineral springs it contains. The traditional tale of its origins told of how the son of an ancient king contracted leprosy. After he was banished from the palace he found the mineral waters in Bath and returned miraculously healed of the disease.
  • When Ponce de Leon and Hernando DeSoto sought the “Fountain of Youth” in the new world, many speculate that the exaggerated tales that arose referenced the healing properties of a mineral-dense geothermal spring. Prior to commercialization, these same hot springs were a place where the native Indian populations would bring their sick or wounded, and would fight viciously to protect what they felt was sacred ground.
More recent examples of topical and transdermal therapies can be found from the 18th through the early 20th century and eventually led to the technological advancements seen today. Throughout Europe, the skin as a gateway for medical therapy became increasingly popular in the late 18th century. In an age where open wounds often led to infection, topical remedies were favored over risky surgeries. For instance, soaking in sulfurous mineral baths became a widespread treatment for gout, which might otherwise have meant amputation.
Early editions of the United States Pharmacoepia (USP) contained several plasters, pastes applied with a cloth binding cover, which are precursors to current transdermal patches.  Similarly, herbalists utilize compresses and ointments based on the healing properties of plants.
In the same way that modern science has not only verified but also capitalized on traditional knowledge of the power of herbs and plant constituents, ongoing studies today explore the mechanisms of skin absorption, gradually confirming the practices of healers from before written history.

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