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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Healing Hemorrhoids with Hot Irons
Thanks to modern medicine there are many ways to handle severe cases of hemorrhoids that don’t involve much pain, but unfortunately for our ancestors things weren’t as ideal. Back in the day, there weren’t any effective painkillers or high-tech lasers to get rid of hemorrhoids surgically. All the doctors had was a plain cautery iron to burn those swollen veins into oblivion and need I remind you, anesthesia was a medical unknown at this point.
A Lobotomy for Various Mental Illnesses
Of course this totally barbaric, hideous, and unsuccessful medical method couldn’t be absent from our list. A lobotomy, which was still practiced just until a few decades ago in many countries, consisted of the cutting or scraping away of most of the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex, the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain. This results in the total transformation of the patient into a human plant, and even more disturbing, the procedure’s developer, António Egas Moniz, won a Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1949 for the “discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses.”
The “Powder of Sympathy”
Back in early modern Europe (the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) fencing was the most popular manly activity but unfortunately it caused many serious injuries and often death to its practitioners. However, thanks to Sir Kenelm Digby and his inane medicine named “Powder of Sympathy” the problem was supposed to be solved. How? Apparently if the fencer applied this ointment to his sword, which was a powder made of earthworms, pigs’ brains, rust, and bits of mummified corpses, it would help his opponent’s wound to heal through a strange process that Digby called “sympathetic magic.” The strangest thing of all, however, is that some people were stupid enough to buy this crap.
Hemiglossectomy Was the Cure for Stuttering
This brutal medical treatment is still in use today in extreme cases such as oral cancer where part of the tongue has to be removed in order to save the patient’s life. Of course, the operation includes general anesthesia and a very experienced team of doctors who know what they are doing and no, don’t take any of this for granted. If you were a stutterer in the eighteenth century and were seeking a cure for this condition, the doctors often cut off half your tongue without anesthesia and without knowing what they were really doing. If you were lucky enough not to die from bleeding you realized that your problem was “gone” simply because you couldn’t speak anymore.
Trepanation “Saved” You From Headaches
Having migraines, epileptic seizures, mental disorders, or any kind of head injury that caused you pain or to act bizarrely could be a damn serious thing a few centuries ago. According to the ‘’experts” back then, having a doctor drill a hole into your skull (remember, these were the days of no anesthesia) was the ultimate solution for your issue because let’s be realistic here—what’s the best way to end pain? Why, more pain of course!