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Scientists think Bronze Age brain surgeons used cannabis, shrooms and dancing as painkillers

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Evidence of ancient surgery found in Siberia is causing feverish speculation about the nature of Bronze Age painkillers.

This article was originally published by The Influence, a news site that covers the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs. Follow The Influence on Facebook or Twitter.

A 3,000-year-old skull—found in the “Nefteprovod 2” burial ground at  the Anzhevsky archeological site near the city of Kansk in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region—shows markings that indicate some form of brain surgery. The individual was aged between 30 and 40, a fairly decent age by Bronze Age standards, when he died.

What makes the skull remarkable is that though the man probably died from eventual complications of surgery, he did live long enough afterwards for the bone to start healing and for skin to cover the hole.

“The key to successful surgery was the patient’s complete trust and confidence,” deadpans Dr. Sergey Slepchenko, a researcher at the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk.

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Given the absence from Siberia of certain plants known to have been used by other ancient cultures as painkillers, researchers speculate about some other candidates to achieve the “altered” state of mind necessary for such surgery. These include juniper and thyme, wild rosemary sticks, hallucinogenic fly agaric mushrooms, and cannabis—a plant that may have played a key role in the birth of Eurasian civilization.

Based on known shamanistic practices, they also speculate that “ecstatic dancing” may have been involved.

The problems around modern pharmaceutical drugs are well known, but we’ll take ’em over the ancient alternatives any time.

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This article was originally published by The Influence, a news site that covers the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs. Follow The Influence on Facebook or Twitter.


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Nicolle Wallace explains Trump’s racist attacks are covering his cozy relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and Michael Cohen scandal

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace began her Wednesday show saying that President Donald Trump has made it official by making his brand one of "racism." But it prompted her to wonder if his racist attacks against four congresswomen of color could be more about deflecting from other scandals.

Wednesday morning, MSNBC released a video of Trump partying with alleged child molester and rapist Jeffrey Epstein. Trump is seen groping women and slapping their posterior. The first round of Epstein's alleged crimes were downgraded by Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and he was given 13 months in a county jail for just 8 hours, six days a week.

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Trump wasn’t the first president to confront the Supreme Court – and back down

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A key presidential election is approaching. The U.S. Supreme Court hears a case with powerful political implications. The court rules, but the populist president doesn’t care. Our national commitments – to the Constitution, to morality, to the rule of law – seem at risk.Then, the president backs down. The nation survives.

This might be the story of President Trump’s short-lived threat to get a citizenship question on the census in defiance of the Supreme Court. Instead, it’s the story of President Andrew Jackson and Worcester v. Georgia, decided in 1832.

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Fatal drug overdoses drop in US for first time in decades

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Fatal drug overdoses in the US declined by 5.1 percent in 2018, according to preliminary official data released Wednesday, the first drop in two decades.

The trend was driven by a steep decline in deaths linked to prescription painkillers.

"The latest provisional data on overdose deaths show that America's united efforts to curb opioid use disorder and addiction are working," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, though he cautioned the epidemic would not be cured overnight.

The total number of estimated deaths dropped to 68,557 in 2018 against 72,224 the year before, according to the figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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