25 Strangest Medical Treatments In History

Posted by , Updated on December 13, 2013

While some of these treatments are still practiced today, they way medical issues were handled in the past will make you glad you are alive in the 21st century. These are the 25 strangest medical treatments in history.

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25

Moldy Bread

breadwikipedia

Used to disinfect cuts since the days of ancient Egypt there is some merit to this. As was eventually discovered, certain fungi can actually block disease causing bacteria.

24

Crystal Meth

methwikipedia

Apparently this was Hitler’s medication of choice. His doctor would inject his buttocks with meth laced vitamins to keep him feeling “fresh, alert, and active”.

23

Farts in a Jar

jarcrateandbarrel.com

During the Middle Ages doctors believed that “like cures like”. So, during the Black Death, which was thought to be cause by lethal vapors, some doctors encouraged people to store their farts in jars and take a whiff every time they walked past.

22

Dead mouse paste

mousewikipedia

In ancient Egypt if you had a toothache then mashed mice mixed with other ingredients were typically applied to the spot.

21

The half mouse remedy

micewikipedia

Equally, if not more disturbing was the fact that in Elizabethan England mice were cut in half and applied to warts on the skin.


20

Crocodile Dung

crocodilewikipedia

It’s been used as a contraceptive. We’ll leave it at that.

19

Powder of Sympathy

wormshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/25652913@N03/2852789914/

Of all the crazy medicines in the 17th century this one probably took the cake. Intended as a treatment for sword wounds it was made of earthworms, pig brains, rust, and mummified corpses all ground into powder.

18

Arsenic

arsenicwikipedia

Although today it’s well known as a poison, in the past it was a critical ingredient in Chinese medicines, cures for malaria, and Victorian women even used it as a cosmetic.

17

Snake Oil

snakewikipedia

While today it refers to quack medicine, for centuries it has been used in China to relieve joint pain.

16

Urine Diagnosis

urine samplekesq.com

Ok, this one is used today for very legitimate purposes. The urine diagnosis that was performed in Medieval hospitals was much different though. It consisted of little more than a smell test that was sometimes even followed by a taste test.

15

Vin Mariani

red winewikipedia

Invented in 1863 by Italian chemist Angelo Mariani, it consists of red wine mixed with cocoa leaves. The thing about cocoa leaves is that they contain cocaine. You can bet this drug was a hit and it even inspired the invention of Coca-Cola.

14

Sheep Liver

sheepwikipedia

Without modern technology, physicians in Mesopotamia relied on inspecting the livers of sacrificed sheep for their diagnosis rather than inspecting the patients themselves.

13

Tongue Cutting

tonguewikipedia

Also known as hemiglossectomy doctors in the 18th and 19th tried to cure stuttering by cutting of large chunks of their patients tongues. This is actually still practiced today for treatment of oral cancer.

12

Electrocution

dangerhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/beigephotos/7514136/

An often used but controversial treatment has been electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. Invented in the 1930s it is still used today as an effective remedy for depression.

11

Ketchup

ketchuphttp://www.flickr.com/photos/overthinkingme/4005898653/

In the 1830s Dr. Archibald Miles declared that he found a substance in tomatoes that could cure diarrhea. His compound was famously known as “Dr. Miles Compound Extract Of Tomato” and was eventually declared a hoax.

10

Dog poop

dogwikipedia

At one point in time the home remedy for sore throats was album graecum, or dried dog dung.

9

Sweating

saunawikipedia

Used as a group counseling and psychotherapy technique, this has existed in numerous cultures to promote well being.

8

Shark Cartilage

sharkwikipedia

It was the 1950s when the sharks-don’t-get-cancer-so-lets-all-eat-shark-cartilage craze took off. Today, however, it has been proven to be little more than quackery.

7

Mud

mudwikipedia

Used in numerous pharmaceutical remedies including the coating on pills, its most famous use has been by NASA to counter the bone degenerating effects of weightlessness.

6

Cigarettes

smokingwikipedia

Prior to anti smoking ads there were a number of pro smoking ads. Aired in the early 20th century, most of these promoted cigarettes as an effective treatment for cancer.

5

Leeches

leecheswikipedia

Often used to let out “bad blood”, these days the practice of leeching has made somewhat of a comeback in the arena of organ reconstruction and microsurgery.

4

Heroine

heroinewikipedia

In the late 1800s heroine was marketed as a remedy for coughs, colds, and pain.

3

Ecstasy

ecstasywikipedia

While some proponents have reemerged in recent years, in the 1970s there was a strong push to use this drug in psychotherapy.

2

Mercury

mercurywikipedia

Used to treat syphilis until the early 20th century, side effects included tooth loss, ulcers, and severe neurological damage.

1

Soothing Syrup

soothing syruphttp://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/8558176312/

A remedy known as Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup became popular in the late 1800s to help children get through the teething process. The main issue with the syrup though was its two main ingredients – morphine and alcohol. Not surprisingly it was removed from the marketplace in the 1930s.

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