10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History

Unfortunately because of the uncertain nature of life on earth, human beings have had to figure nearly everything out through trial and error — especially in the world of medicine.

The above slideshow features the craziest remedies that were used throughout history. Thankfully alternative methods for mental and physical diseases/problems are now used. In order for us to understand how lucky we are in the 21st Century, it’s important that we never forget the horrors that men, women, and children had to endure in the not so distant past.

The following are more details on the treatments mentioned in the above slideshow:

Bloodletting
This practice was used from the 5th Century B.C. to the early 1900s to deal with blood issues, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. Surgeons and barbers specialized in the process. According to Museum of Quackery, “The draining of 16-30 ounces (one to four pints) of blood was typical. Blood was often caught in a shallow bowl. When the patient became faint, the “treatment” was stopped. Bleeding was often encouraged over large areas of the body by multiple incisions.”

History reveals that George Washington died in 1799 after being drained of 9 pints of blood to treat a throat infection. One hundred years later the practice was considered quackery.

Trepanning
Doctors would drill a hole in or scrape the human skull to treat various maladies including seizures, migraines, mental disorders, and to relieve pressure. A trephine was the tool used to cut a round hole in the skull bone. While the old methodology for trepanning has been left behind, some of today’s surgeons use a similar method for brain injuries.

Malaria for Syphilis Treatment
Julius Wagner-Jauregg discovered that he could use malaria to treat syphilis. After the patient was cured, he would then use quinine to kill off the malaria. The downside of this treatment method was that 12 percent of patients died, so it was eventually replaced.

Net Suspensioning
Used to treat scoliosis and for other spinal problems.

DDT for Delousing
DDT, the super toxic bug spray, was used on adults and children during World War II. Somehow it was deemed safe for use on humans; however, later it was found to be cancer-causing.

Tapeworms for Weight Loss
This diet was popularized in the early 1900s. People would swallow tapeworms hoping they would quickly drop pounds. Unfortunately, ingested tapeworms do way more harm than good.

Heliotherapy
People would stand around bright lights hoping they would be cured of tuberculosis. This method was especially used in cold and dark climates. Children would be brought in from the streets and treated in large numbers.

Mercury Medicine
History proves that the use of mercury for medicine dates back to the 1500s and beyond. For some reason, doctors and everyday people alike used mercury to treat all sorts of issues — even basic scrapes. It was also used to treat syphilis and more complex diseases. It took centuries before we realized that mercury is a horrid poison when ingested.

Pedicle Grafts
Surgeons would make tubes of skin to be placed over the nose and other areas of the body that needed reconstruction surgery. In the slideshow photo featured above, this particular man is a soldier who needed to have his nose reconstructed. This procedure led to modern-day skin grafting.

Electric Belts for Impotence
Yes indeed, men could purchase electric belts that experts thought would help with their stamina. The advertisements featured above tell the whole story. Obviously this strategy didn’t work as hoped or we may see men buzzing around town these days.

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