An ancient Greek pain remedy for athletes

Pain Pract. 2006 Sep;6(3):212-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2006.00088.x.


While Hippocratic writings make no reference to the actual Olympics, there is frequent mention of diet, exercise, and the treatment of injuries sustained by the athletic participants. Indeed, Galen in his Composition of Medicines gives details of a remedy prescribed for the relief of pains and swellings, which was reserved for use by the winners of Olympic events, the so-called "Fuscum Olympionico inscriptum"--(ointment) entitled "dark Olympic victor's." In a time when the Olympic games have recently returned to their homeland, we examine the potential efficacy of this ancient remedy in terms of pain relief, the novelty of transdermal pain management, and the ability of ancient physicians to attend to the sports-related needs of highly tuned athletes.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / history*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Athletic Injuries / drug therapy
  • Athletic Injuries / history*
  • Greece, Ancient
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / history*
  • Phytotherapy / history*
  • Sports / history*


  • Analgesics