10 Of The Most Bizarre Medical Remedies From History

We've always wondered at one time or another, what it would be like to visit different places from the past, such as Ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome, the time of the Vikings, the Japanese shoguns, Medieval Europe, or in the early history of America. But most of us will also probably have to admit that we've never thought about what the medical treatments back in those times would have been like. There is no doubt that living back in the days of earlier history would have been a fascinating experience, at least until you get sick. At that point, your chances to live a full life would dramatically go down.

Today when we get sick, we go to the doctor’s office, get an antibiotic or some pills and in a week or two, we’re probably good. In extreme cases, we have to undergo surgery. The truth is that getting medical treatment these days is incredibly easy, in comparison to historical days. Sometimes, going to the doctor’s office in the Medieval Ages would be more dangerous to your life then not going.

A lot of the treatments and remedies on this list are truly gross and disgusting, while others just don’t make sense. It’s a good thing that today we have made scientific and medical advancements, so that doctors know what really needs to be done. Many of these advancements have been made within the last two hundred years, while others have only been made within the last decade.

There really are too many strange medical remedies to be limited to just the ten on this list, but these are the strangest of them all. The funny part of it is that back in the day, most, if not all, of these medical remedies made sense, while today, we would just make a major face palm.

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10 Clysters


Clysters were long metal tubes that had a cup at the end. The clyster would be inserted into the anus and medical fluids poured down the tube and into the cup. If this wasn't disgusting enough, what did they use as the medical fluids? Most of the time, it was the bile from a wild boar. But even so, clysters were a very common medical treatment for common diseases back in the day, and even royals and kings of major nations used clysters as a treatment for their own diseases.

9 Snake Oil

via myperfumediaries.blogspot.com

Snake oil as a medical remedy was usually used by the Chinese as a cure for joint pain.  When many Chinese people immigrated to the United States of America in the 1800s, they introduced snake oil to the country, where it almost immediately took off as a medical treatment. Later, scientists and medical treatments turned out that the Chinese were right, but the Americans were wrong all along: the oil only worked as a medical treatment from a specific Chinese water snake, and not just from any snake that was found in the United States.

8 Electromagnetic Coils

via news.thomasnet.com

Electromagnetic coils were popular as a medical treatment for almost any medical treatment, also known as a “cure-all” treatment. Electromagnetic coils gained popularity as a medical treatment in the 1860s, and continued to be used until the 1940s. The electromagnetic coil was sold to people as a curing device for any disease, and even making you look younger. It didn't take long after the 1940s for medical professionals and scientists to determine that the electromagnetic coils were useless as a medical treatment, let alone a “cure-all” medical treatment.

7 Antiseptic Urine

via lawyersusaonline.com

Yes, human urine was utilized back in the day (specifically the Middle Ages) as an antiseptic. In the 1600s, urine was used as a very popular medical treatment for victims of the Bubonic plague that ravaged Europe and killed over a quarter of the total population.  Doctors at the time even washed all wounds with urine. It’s a good thing that today we know urine definitely doesn't know what it supposedly could do.

6 Eye Surgery With A Needle

via medicalantiques.com

Could you imagine having eye surgery done with a needle? And not just any needle: a very large, thick needle that was pressed all the way to the very back of the eye? During medieval times, most eye surgeries were done by sticking a needle in the eye to push the cornea back. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for people to figure out that this only did much more harm than it did good to the eye, and they eventually switched to a very thin syringe to remove the cataracts.

5 Radioactive Water

via fastcompany.com

Radioactive water is one of the few historical remedies on this list that is still used by some people today. Radioactive water was discovered in springs, in the very early 1900s, and it was immediately assumed that a long bath in radioactive water was somehow a natural treatment for diseases. By the 1920s, devices were sold so that people could not only make their own water at home radioactive, but also drink multiple glasses of it each day.

4 Surgery

via image-ination.ifthisistaken.com

You may be wondering why surgery has made it on this list, let alone the number four spot. The surgery that we are talking about here isn’t the surgery that is used today; not even close. The surgery that was done back in the Middle Ages and even after that, was done with thick, dull and unclean knives and other tools to stick into people to remove infected areas. Ultimately, this did more harm than good, and most of the people who underwent this kind of surgery died from infection within a few days.

3 Deadly Anesthetics

via en.wikipedia.org

The anesthetics from a few hundred years ago definitely weren't the same anesthetics that we think of today. In fact, anesthetics from back in the day were little more than herbs mixed with wine or water…and many of those herbs were poisonous and caused death in no time. You would think that people would figure out that copious amounts of drugs such as opium, at least had the potential to kill you, but it took a few more hundred years to figure that out.

2 Astrology

via dawnofthenewage.com

Astrologers were very renowned back in the Middle Ages, since they apparently had the ability to predict a lot of the phenomena, such as when crops would be good, what the weather would be like the next day, or what kind of children would be born to a set of parents. And as you may have guessed, they also apparently had the ability to predict the diagnosis of an ailing patient and the proper treatments for them. Astrologists used special calendars to predict these diagnoses and treatments, and eventually, doctors were forced to review these calendars before turning to any medical attention for the patient.  According to these charts, the positions of the stars in the night sky and/or different times of the year or day, could predict what the patient’s diagnosis was. Today it would seem disheartening if your illness was predicted using a star chart, rather than proper medical tests!

1 Bloodletting

via conferencesthatwork.com

It’s definitely baffling, but many doctors and physicians back in the Medieval Ages, believed that blood was a bad thing and was the root cause of many diseases. Doctors would then seek to drain a lot of the blood from the veins of people, believing that it could cure them. The most common ways to drain the blood from patients, otherwise known as bloodletting, was to either cut their veins with knives, or attach leeches to their skin.  Sometimes people wouldn't even go to the doctor for bloodletting; they would simply cut themselves and drain their blood into cups and bowls. If you think that’s strange, you’re definitely right.

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