Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Doc Luke ~ Physician to the Apostles

Dear Friends,

Dr. Luke is a mystery to us. He wrote the majority of the New Testament, but we know little about him other than that he was a physician, a ministry partner of Paul’s and was a diligent and detail-oriented researcher of the life of Jesus. He is the only Gentile author in our Bible and he writes in a very sophisticated style of Greek that would be expected of someone with great intelligence and education. We might think that a physician back in those days practiced a simple and rustic form of folk medicine but nothing could be further from the truth. Egyptian medical texts go back to 3,000 years before the birth of Christ. Broken bones were set. Wounds were cleaned and stitched. In 1700 B.C., surgeries were being performed on the eye, cancerous tumors were being removed and there is evidence of brain surgery where archaeologists determined that the patient recovered because of the growth of bone over the saw cuts! 

We marvel today at the advances of medical science in our lifetime, but the greatest increase in medical knowledge came about four hundred years before the birth of Christ when Hippocrates wrote the medical texts that Dr. Luke would have studied. Our Bible tells us that Luke accompanied Paul on his second and third missionary journeys with both of those together totaling 5,500 miles! During those long, hard journeys, Paul supported himself as a tentmaker and it would be reasonable to assume that Luke supported himself as a physician. If so, what medications would he have used in the treatment of his patients?

Plants were the main source of healing remedies and herbal medicines were used in Egypt as far back as 10,000 B.C. A papyrus from 1500 B.C. has been found that lists 900 medications for injuries and illnesses. By the time Dr. Luke studied medicine, there had been over 10,000 years of research! What are some of those healing medications? 

GARLIC was one of the wonder drugs and was prescribed for headaches and throat infections. A natural antibiotic, garlic was used for the treatment of infections, internal parasites and was used as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis and joint pain. Today we know that “allicin” is a compound that naturally occurs in garlic and is what gives this pungent bulb its healing properties. Garlic tablets are taken today for the treatment of conditions related to the heart and blood system and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. 

CASSIA (Cinnamon) Psalms 45:8 was used in biblical days as a digestive aid and for toothaches. 5,000 years later, the U.S. National Library of Medicine tells us cinnamon can be used as a digestive aid to treat vomiting and diarrhea and also can be used to treat toothache! According to modern medical science, cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with type one and type two diabetes and lab studies have found that cinnamon also reduces inflammation, has antioxidant effects, and fights bacteria. Dr. Luke didn’t have the studies we have today. He just knew that it worked!

ANISE and DILL are two of the earliest-known herbs of the ancient world and were included as ingredients in a mixture to relax muscles and relieve pain according to the papyrus from 1500 B.C. The beloved physician, Dr. Luke, might have used dill seeds steeped in hot milk to quiet the nerves and act as a muscle-relaxant. Dill seed is still used today as a muscle-relaxant and to relieve pain. Lab studies have found chemicals in anise that have estrogen-like effects and women today use it to relieve menstrual discomfort.

Now we get to my favorite spice. My Cowboy Pinto Beans are okay, but then when I add a teaspoon of CUMIN and a dash of Wright’s Liquid Smoke, people start to yodel like Gene Autry and dance the cowboy polka. Many of us use cumin in cooking but none of us have ever used it like the Old Testament Hebrews did. Following the ritual of male circumcision, cumin was used to stop the bleeding. Today, cumin is known as an anti-coagulant that could have actually increased the bleeding, and perhaps by the time Dr. Luke studied medicine, they were no longer using cumin for that purpose. We do know that Egyptian medical texts reveal considerable uses of cumin for stomach ailments, intestinal parasites, skin ailments and insect stings. Cumin has many anti-inflammatory properties and Dr. Luke would have most likely given it to patients for the same conditions and symptoms that you and I might relieve with an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Cumin is so effective at lowering your blood sugar that doctors today warn that taking cumin along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low.

I have a MINT plant by my front door and it’s hard for me to pass it by without taking a small leaf to chew on. Mint was cultivated in 1550 B.C. by the Egyptians for various ailments including the treatment of fever and for skin conditions. People are rediscovering today that mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food and is now known as a super-food. It’s used today for everything from relieving the symptoms of the common cold to pain relief for gastric ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. And when Dr. Luke wanted to relax after a long hard day of evangelizing with that “Type A” guy, St. Paul the apostle, the Doc might have made up a nice relaxing, calming cup of mint tea. 

And now it’s nearing the day’s end on a Monday as I finish writing this week's AMEN Corner and the skies are becoming darkened. I think I’ll go now and gather a few mint leaves, put on the kettle and do the same...

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