Modern medicine is truly amazing, with some advances over the past few decades being heralded as miracles of science and achievement. That being said, the history of medicine is chock full of utterly bizarre things that used to be utilized for healthcare. Here are five of the weirdest things that used to pass as medicine.
Now known for just how toxic it can be to the human body, mercury used to be a popular go-to for just about any medical ailment. From spreading the silvery liquid on cuts to ingesting it when experiencing stomach issues, mercury was consumed and applied almost anywhere it could be. Due to mercury’s toxicity, almost everyone who underwent this treatment ended up dying, yet it was still used for over 1,000 years.
This illegal drug was widely used as a cough suppressant in the early 19th century. It was originally created by Bayar, the brand commonly associated with aspirin today. Nowadays we recognize just how dangerous and addictive the drug is, but it was very common to see it sold and advertised back in the day.
Bloodletting was the practice of physically cutting and draining the body of blood, with the thought that each body held four different fluids (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) that would occasionally become imbalanced, and blood needed to be removed to allow for more room and equal distribution of the other fluids. Despite being extremely dangerous and resulting in many deaths, bloodletting was used for just about any illness up until the 19th century.
4. Soothing Syrup
Prescribed for children going through teething or other bothersome ailments, Soothing Syrup was a potent cocktail of narcotics that would knock most grown adults off their feet, let alone young kids. Common ingredients that were often used together were morphine, chloroform, codeine, heroin, powdered opium, and cannabis. While this certainly would quiet a rowdy child, many children were also overdosed on the syrups and ended up dying in the process.
There isn’t a sugarcoated way to put it; trepanation is the process of drilling holes in one’s skull. Oddly enough this procedure was regularly recommended from those suffering from headaches and migraines, despite its unsurprisingly low success rate. Many ancient and modern societies alike practiced and prescribed trepanation even with no indication of it actually working at all, and there are some people who utilize it to this very day.