Ancient History

The history of anemia goes back to ancient times, with 4,000-year-old bone samples from Thailand showing advanced signs of the condition. Writing from Papyrus Ebers and other ancient Egypt texts may be the first written descriptions of the disease, though; they described the condition in 1500 BC.

People have been treating this condition for thousands of years, too. Perhaps most notably, Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC), the Father of Western Medicine, is said to have regularly used supplemental iron to cure the disease. According to certain legends, though, iron treatment may have come much earlier. In 4000 B.C., a Persian physician named Melampus allegedly began giving iron supplements to sailors.

Modern Times

In 1825, scientists discovered that the red color of blood was due to iron content. At the time, experts considered anemia a condition specific to low levels of iron, rather than red blood cell count as it is today. Despite humanity’s long history of treating anemia, it wasn’t until the 1920s that experts formally recognized iron deficiency anemia as an illness.

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