The history of medicine is filled with wild stories of bizarre healing methods and medical treatments that revolve around pain and death. Despite the goodwill and honest attempts of many doctors and scientists throughout the years to find the most humane treatment and healing process for human pain and disease the results have been extremely painful and harmful, in some cases even worse than the initial health problem. Here are 25 examples of some of the craziest medical treatments in history. Let’s just say that it’s good to live in modern times.
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Clysters for a Better Quality of Life
A clyster is what people living in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries called an enema. There’s nothing wrong with enemas of course, as they are widely used today by those who have chronic constipation, but the problem here is the ingredients in a clyster before the twentieth century: warm water mixed with salt, baking soda, soap, coffee, bran, chamomile, or even honey(!) were some of the most popular ingredients and for some strange reason members of the upper classes loved it. It is believed that France’s Louis XIV was a huge fan of clysters and had more than two thousand throughout his lifetime.
The Dolphin Therapy
In Peru and a few other places, it is still believed that if a pregnant woman is touched by a dolphin, the fetus’s neuronal development will be dramatically improved. This dolphin “therapy” is widely suggested in Peru and pregnant women from all over the world who are seduced by this medical “theory” travel there to stimulate their babies’ brains inside the womb. It is claimed the dolphin’s high-frequency sounds increase and develop the baby’s neuronal abilities. This sounds like the ideal scenario for a Christopher Nolan or John Carpenter film.
Moldy Bread Was Supposed to Be an Effective Painkiller
In ancient China and Greece, moldy bread was pressed against wounds to prevent infection. In Egypt also, crusts of moldy wheat bread were applied to pustular scalp infections and “medicinal earth” was dispensed for its curative properties. These tactics were believed to honor the spirits or the gods responsible for illness and suffering who in good faith were supposed to leave the patient alone. Score!
Snail Syrup Used for Sore Throat and Earache
It might sound unbelievable to us today with all the medically approved syrups available on the market, but one of the best medical treatments for centuries for all those who suffered from sore throats and coughs was consuming the mucilaginous essence of snails. Actually, some people were so satisfied with the results that they would prick a snail to bring forth the slimy, foamy juice and then drop the whole thing into the ear to cure an earache.
Dog Poop for No More Sore Throats
In The Popularization of Medicine, 1650–1850, written by British historian Roy Porter, who mainly focused on the history of medicine, we learn that at some point doctors came up with the “brilliant” idea of prescribing to sore throat sufferers a medicine that included, among other things, something called “album graecum,” which in reality was dried dog poop. Talk about medicine going bad, anyone?