11 COMPLETELY INSANE TREATMENTS IN MEDICAL HISTORY
Throughout history, illness has been attributed to witchcraft, demons, or the will of the gods, and as you probably know, medical treatments for such primitive understanding of illness were awfully wrong for the patients with macabre results in many cases. Fortunately, today we’re lucky to know that having an unexplainable or rare disease doesn’t mean you’re weird or that your sickness was sent as a punishment from the gods. However, one could argue that even now, with all our scientific advancements and medical progress, in a few extreme instances there are doctors who still use extreme treatments to cure a patient of an illness. The keyword here though is extreme, and thank God no one will open a hole in your head these days to treat your headache or prescribe you heroin to deal with your insomnia. What? You think we’re playing here? Just read the following list then and let’s talk about it.
Written by Theodoros II
OPENING A HOLE IN YOUR HEAD “SAVED” YOU FROM HEADECHES
Having migraines, epileptic seizures, mental disorders, or any kind of head injury that caused you pain or to act bizarre could be a damn serious thing a few centuries ago. According to the ‘’experts” back then, having a doctor drill a hole in your skull (remember, these were the days of no anesthesia) was the ultimate solution for your problem because let’s be realistic here—what’s the best way to end pain? Why, more pain of course!
HEROIN SYRUP FOR INSOMNIA AND OTHER THINGS
Friedrich Bayer, the legendary merchant and founder of what would become Bayer AG, a gigantic German chemical and pharmaceutical company with a revenue of 40 billion euro ($50 billion), started his professional medical career by selling heroin in a syrup form in 1898. Heroin syrup was prescribed to treat insomnia and other things such as coughs and back pain, and even though we’re pretty sure it cured insomnia with impressive success, we’re afraid the patient developed a more severe issue called being a junkie.
MALARIA TREATMENT FOR SYPHILIS
To begin with and to be historically and scientifically accurate, malaria can indeed kill syphilis through malarial fever, which reaches temperatures high enough to kill the bacteria that causes syphilis. Also, the doctor who came up with this discovery, Dr. Julius Wagner-Jauregg, won the 1927 Nobel Prize for Medicine for this “breakthrough,” but in time scientists realized that saving a patient from one disease only so that another can kill him isn’t much of an accomplishment.
MOLDY BREAD AS 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!
SMOKING TO TREAT ASTHMA
Okay, so do you want to hear something funny? Way before all the anti-smoking ads on television and the great anti-tobacco crusade there were tons of pro-smoking ads. It might sound totally absurd but back in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth the inhalation of fumes from burning tobacco was considered one of the most ideal treatments for asthma, without any successful results of course. When scientists finally discovered the catastrophic effects of nicotine on the human body the treatment went down as one of the most ludicrous ever.
MUMMY POWDER: THE ASPIRIN OF ANTIQUITY
Back in the twelfth century, Arabs had conquered most of North Africa, including Egypt, and it was then that they began grinding up mummies so they could use the powder for medical reasons. They used the powder either internally or externally, and its usage was so frequent and general that it could be applied for anything from a regular headache to more serious conditions such as stomach ulcers and muscle pain.
BLOODLETTING FOR PRETTY MUCH EVERY ILLNESS
Ancient physicians in Greece, Egypt, and other parts of the world believed that drawing blood straight from the veins was a great way to instantly get rid of illness. It was highly recommended, especially for indigestion and acne, but the only real benefit was discovered many centuries later when it appeared to relieve (rarely) hypertension in certain patients. The strangest yet most impressive thing about bloodletting, however, seems to be that even though it started being practiced in antiquity, doctors only finally stopped using it in the late nineteenth century.
SNAIL SYRUP FOR A SORE THROAT
It might sound unbelievable to us with all the medically approved syrups on the market, but one of the best medical treatments for centuries for 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 A SORE THROAT TOO
If, however, snail syrup didn’t work for you, we know from The Popularization of Medicine, 1650–1850, written by British historian Roy Porter, who mainly focused on the history of medicine, that at some point doctors came up with the “brilliant” idea of prescribing a medicine to sore throat sufferers that included, among other things, something called “album graecum,” which in reality was dried dog poop. Talk about medicine going bad.
DEAD MOUSE PASTE FOR TOOTH PAIN
The ancient Egyptians are known for contributing a lot of things to civilization but the cure for toothache isn’t one of them. Why? Well in ancient Egypt just by mashing and blending a dead mouse with other ingredients and putting this “special” paste in your mouth (JUST GROSS) your tooth pain was supposed to be relieved. Needless to say, many users ended up dying from other more serious diseases caused by the mouse’s dirty body.
HEMIGLOSSECTOMY THE ULTIMATE CURE FOR STUTTERING
Before we say anything, keep in mind that this barbaric 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, 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.