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Bizarre Medical Remedies & Cures From The Past

Not for acupuncture but for eye surgery. In the middle ages the needle was used to shove cataracts to the back of eye.

Hot iron
Also during the middle ages, if you got hemorrhoids then you could expect to have a hot iron pushed up your rectum.

Thought to cure head related issues like migraines, people would have holes drilled into their skulls to relieve pressure on the brain

In some parts of medieval Europe doctors were legally required to consult a patients horoscope before making a diagnosis.

For various reasons, during the middle ages excess blood in the body was seen as the cause of numerous ailments. Many people would even use leeches recreationally just because they thought it would keep them healthy.

Honey coated cadavers
According to some sources there were elderly men in Arabia that would eat nothing but honey until they died. They were then buried in honey and left in a tomb for over a century after which they were ready for consumption by people with various ailments.

Snail juice
Perhaps not quite as disturbing as our last remedy, people in the 1700s quite often used smashed snails to cure coughs and ear aches.

Although today it is known as one of the most addictive substances on Earth, scientists at the beginning of the 20th century for some reason thought it was a non-addictive form of morphine. Therefore, Bayer actually produced heroin as a cough suppressant for children. Not surprisingly production ended shortly thereafter.

Like trepanation, lobotomies were performed by drilling a hole into the head, at least until psychiatrist Walter Freeman realized that an icepick through the eye socket was faster. Thankfully, with the advent of effective antipsychotics in the 60s, this procedure fell out of favor.

In spite of the fact that it kills 3 million people per year, it apparently raises your body temperature enough to kill the bacteria that cause syphilis. Dr. Julius Wagner-Jauregg even won the Nobel prize in 1927 for the discovery. Not surprisingly this treatment is no longer used today.

Crystal Meth
Hitler’s doctors are possibly the most famous example’s of using this treatment. As Hitler was a known hypochondriac they would often inject him with all sorts of medications, including meth. Go figure.

Vin Mariani
In the mid 1800s Italian chemist Angelo Mariani came out with a “healing tonic” that consisted of red wine and cocoa leaves. The tonic became very popular (for those of you that don’t know, coca leaves contain cocaine). Which leads us to our next entry…

Inspired by Vin Mariani, Coca-Cola (made from coca-leaves and cola nuts) was also originally intended to be a medicine. Colonel John Pemberton, the inventor, claimed that it could cure headaches, morphine addiction, and impotence.

Tongue Cutting
If you stuttered in the 1800s you could expect the doctor to cut off half of your tongue. Not surprisingly many patients bled to death.

Basically the medieval word for enemas, people would often put all sorts of things into their rectum hoping for a magical cure. However, to give credit where credit is due, they did use it to cure constipation, which is still done today.

Powder of Sympathy
In the 17th century Sir Kenelm Digby came out with a special powder consisting of pig’s brains, mummified corpses, and earthworms. It was usually applied to battle wounds.

Urine for diagnosis
In medieval times doctors would often diagnose the patient by smelling, examining, and even tasting the patient’s urine.

Urine as an antiseptic
Yup, it had multiple uses, and this one was often the treatment of choice on the battlefield. Interestingly enough, urine was in all likelihood the most sterile substance available in such a scenario.

Snake oil
It hasn’t always been synonymous with quack medicine. The ancient Chinese often used it to cure joint pain.

Although these days its relatively well known as a poison, in the past it has been used as everything from a cosmetic (Victorian women) to a cure for Malaria (Fowler’s Solution).

Moldy Bread
As far back as ancient Egypt it was used as a disinfectant. This may not be all that strange, however, as many fungi are known to have bacteria inhibiting properties. Penicillin?

Dead Mouse Paste
The ancient Egyptians used mashed mice to cure their toothaches.

Half a mouse
Not to be outdone, in Elizabethan England people would cut mice in half and apply them to their warts.

Sheep livers
In Mesopotamia people were diagnosed with diseases by examining the livers of sacrificed sheep.

In the middle ages, people were convinced that the black death was caused by smelly odors. The prevailing view of the day was that “like cures like” so many physicians encouraged people to fart in jars and then open the jars when the plaque came to town.


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