Our world is filled with literally millions of different living organisms. And although they all come in a variety of shapes and sizes, there are certain things that we all share with each other—like the need to eat, sleep, and reproduce. Aside from those things, though, every living thing in nature eventually dies because of old age, because something else wanted to eat it, or because the organism suffered some kind of fatal injury. There is, however, another major contributing factor to death, and that would be illness and sickness, a factor that has killed billions of creatures over millions of years, and human beings are not immune to this factor whatsoever.
It is true that humans are the smartest creatures on the planet, and it is thanks to that intelligence that a fair number of us are capable of working in the medical field, a field that has seen numerous break throughs and advancements over the centuries. There is no doubt that humans are now living far longer than they used to, thanks mainly to the work of doctors and the pharmaceutical companies who have helped treat and cure so many different illnesses that at one point would have definitely killed those afflicted by them. The thing is, though, doctors in the past were not as educated as they are today, which is why many patients were treated via methods that by today’s standards would not be approved because of how reckless and stupid they were, and the purpose of this list is to identify 15 of the stupidest treatments in history.
15 Crushed Rodents
It is currently 2017, and although there have been many advances from social and technological perspectives, we still have an affinity to look back at the civilizations that came before, with Ancient Egypt being somewhere at the top of the list. The Ancient Egyptians gave us the pyramids, hieroglyphics, the Sphinx, a unique mythology, and mummies. But, like every other civilization, they also had their own form of healthcare. Over 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians liked to use actual snake oil to create remedies, oil which did not really work, and they also used lead to try to strengthen a person’s immune system, which is totally absurd if we consider today’s medical standards. Those are not the craziest medical treatments they devised, though, as they also had a method of curing toothaches—a method that involved taking rats, grinding them into mush, adding other ingredients, and then spreading the paste on the patient’s teeth as if it were gross unhealthy toothpaste.
More or less every human being has a sense of taste, a sense that we mainly have thanks to our tongue. But that is not the only benefit that our tongue provides as it also allows us to speak more clearly. Like every other part of the body, though, there is a chance that our tongue can develop some kind of cancerous growth, and if that were to occur, then the best course of action is for a person to undergo what is known as a hemiglossectomy, an operation that involves cutting off the entire tongue or just a segment of it. Obviously, this kind of operation is a real life saver that is still performed today, but the reason why it is on this list is because it was not originally designed to save lives. In the 18th century, stuttering was seen as a real problem, so doctors at the time believed that the best course of action was to just perform a hemiglossectomy to stop patients from stuttering.
Today, there are a lot of complaints regarding the mentally ill, with the most common complaint being that we do not provide those with mental illnesses with good enough treatment. It is true that we can do more to help these people out, but at least they are taken care of much better now than they were in the past because just a few decades ago, people suffering from mental illness had to go through some pretty horrific treatments. One of the worst procedures that patients could go through was the lobotomy, a technique developed by Portuguese neurologist Antonio Egas Moniz, who went on to controversially win a Nobel Prize for creating the procedure. In essence, a lobotomy involves scraping away and removing entire pieces of the brain. Although it had some positive effects, there were a lot more negatives, like seizures, being left with disabling impairments, societal detachment, confusion, and incontinence.
12 Insulin Shock Therapy
Most of us know that morphine is a type of medication that helps to greatly reduce both acute and chronic pain, but the problem with it is that morphine is an opiate, which means that it can be highly addictive. Morphine addiction has been a problem ever since the drug first started being used. And like all other addictions, there have been people who have tried to devise a proper treatment method to help people kick the unhealthy habit. In 1927, an Austrian neurophysiologist named Manfred Sakel developed what is known as insulin shock therapy after he noticed that one of his patients was cured of his morphine addiction after he accidentally gave him too much insulin. This therapy was used a lot during the 1940’s and 50’s to treat addiction and mental disorders like schizophrenia. However, the only problem was that in order to do the treatment properly, patients were placed in insulin-induced comas that caused them irreparable brain damage.
11 Hot Irons
Every single day, we wake up, eat breakfast, go to school and/or work, eat lunch, go home, eat dinner, and then relax a little before going to bed to repeat the entire cycle again the next day. We all basically follow that same routine. But throughout the day, we all also have to take a few minutes out of our day to go to the bathroom where we either empty our bladders or bowels. Now, people sometimes develop vascular structures known as hemorrhoids in their rear ends, and in their normal state, those hemorrhoids actually help with stool control. But, when they become inflamed or swollen, they can cause immense pain and bleeding. In the days before traditional medicine, doctors would treat these bad hemorrhoids in a truly painful way, which involved taking a blazing hot iron rod and placing it in the patient’s rear end in order to sear the hemorrhoids off.
Over the course of history, humanity has had to deal with several disease outbreaks and plagues, with one of the worst being the Black Death, which took place in Europe from 1346 to 1353 and which resulted in the deaths of between 75 and 200 million people. This plague is believed to have originated somewhere in Central Asia, with rat fleas being the main carriers. But, many doctors at the time did not think that it was spread via tiny insects, which is why there were several “cures” developed to combat the disease. One of those “cures” involved some doctors telling their patients to literally fart in a jar so that they could then smell their flatulence. Obviously, this “cure” is completely stupid and makes absolutely no sense. But at that time, doctors thought that the Black Death was spread through deadly vapors so some thought that inhaling fart vapors would counter the effects of the plague’s vapors.
Doctors have essentially been giving their patients poison for thousands of years. But in their defense, most of that poison was handed out at a time when doctors were unaware of just how toxic certain substances were. Mercury is one of the 118 known elements, and it is the only metallic element that remains liquid under normal temperatures and conditions, and for a very long time, physicians would use Mercury to treat a variety of different ailments. The problem, though, is that Mercury is incredibly toxic and poisonous to humans, as it can cause things like muscle weakness, hair, teeth and nail loss, burning pain under the skin, insomnia, and kidney dysfunction. Granted, Mercury is still used in the medical field today, mainly in thermometers and dental equipment, but doctors will no longer tell you to ingest it, which they once did in order to treat people with syphilis and typhoid.
We started this list off by talking about cocaine, a terrible drug that causes the deaths of thousands of people every single year. But people are far more likely to die if they become addicted to heroin. In terms of opiates, heroin is one of the most addictive, thanks to its euphoric effects. However, the problem is that it can cause respiratory problems, abscesses, pneumonia, and infections of both the blood and heart valves. Like cocaine, heroin was once very much legal, and it was used to help people who had experienced severe physical trauma and those with chronic pain. It was even used to help women who underwent a C-section. Back when it was legal, heroin was even used to help treat children, and it was actually first developed by Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company, in order to keep kids from coughing. So, if your kid complains about their cough syrup tasting bad, you can tell them, “At least it’s not heroin.”
Sometimes, people suffer serious head injuries that cause a buildup of blood in the skull. These buildups, if left untreated, will undoubtedly lead to death the majority of the time because of all the pressure present in the skull. In modern medicine, the main method used to release this pressure is a craniotomy, an operation in which a hole is surgically drilled into the skull. In ancient times, though, this procedure was known by another name, trepanation, and it was not used to release built-up pressure. Instead, doctors would use this procedure to help those suffering from migraines, seizures, and various mental disorders. As dumb as it sounds, drilling a hole in someone’s head to help get rid of a migraine was not the stupidest part of this treatment because at the time, doctors would also perform trepanations on patients in order to release evil spirits that they believed were living in their heads.
For hundreds of years, people have been looking for a way to relieve the stress put on them. And although most people find safe ways to relieve that stress, there are still those who turn to drugs. For decades, cocaine has been one of the most popular illegal drugs in the world, and there have been numerous television shows and movies that have showcased its use and the dangers associated with it. But, there was once a time when cocaine was actually legal and used by licensed doctors. Famed neurologist Sigmund Freud was the first high-profile doctor to endorse cocaine, as he found that the drug helped with both indigestion and depression. It was not until 1884, though, that cocaine became known as a miracle worker, as ophthalmologist Carl Koller discovered that the drug could numb the eye, restrict bleeding, and tighten blood vessels during surgery, and this revelation in numbness ultimately led to every pharmacy briefly selling cocaine to customers as a pain remedy.
5 Soothing Syrups
Anyone who has kids will agree that they are indeed a handful, to the point that some parents do not even want to deal with them, and that is a big reason why so many children today are prescribed medication to make them calm down. Obviously, this is a bad thing to do, seeing as the children might end up getting dependent on the medication in order to function normally. But our ancestors were a tad worse in that regard as they would literally numb their children if they could not control them. Back in the 1800’s, if kids suffered from something like ADD or if they were simply being disobedient, some parents would visit a doctor in order to get some sort of remedy to make them clam down. These remedies were known as soothing syrups, which were basically made entirely of morphine. These syrups were also used to sooth young infants who were teething.
4 Female Hysteria Treatments
Women have come a long way in the last 150 years. But even with all of the progress that they have made, there are still some things that they are fighting for, and one of those things is what they are allowed to do with their own bodies from a medical perspective. This is indeed a problem. But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women had even less say in regards to their health, as many women would end up being placed in an insane asylum because they were diagnosed with hysteria. Female hysteria is no longer considered to be a real medical diagnosis because a woman used to be labelled hysteric if she was nervous, had s*xual desires or insomnia, if she fainted often, or if she was irritable and did not want to eat or get intimate. What was the treatment for this “illness,” you ask? Well, they would either be given inappropriate pelvic massages, sprayed with high-pressure water hoses, or forced to achieve org*sm with crude vibrators.
The show Breaking Bad showed audiences what it is like to make and distribute meth. But what it did not do well was show just how destructive the drug can be to those who are addicted to it. Now, believe it or not, meth is actually used today to make medicine for people who suffer from ADHD and obesity. But because of how addictive this stimulant is, not many of those medications actually get prescribed to patients. This drug was first discovered in 1893, but it was not until World War II that the drug became well-known, as German doctors and Pharmacies would give meth tablets to soldiers in order to “cure” their fatigue and enhance their performance on the battlefield. If it were not for that war, meth might not be used as a recreational drug today, a drug which can cause depression, irregular heartbeats, numbness, tremors, psychosis, insomnia, diarrhea, and suicide.
2 Sheep Livers
We have been domesticating animals for thousands of years. And in doing so, we have made them a lot easier to control while we raise them to ultimately give us what we want—food. We do not only keep animals (in this case, livestock) for food, though, because in the case of sheep, not only do they give us meat, but they also provide us with wool, which is used to make all sorts of clothing. In ancient times, however, sheep were considered to be far more useful and would often be sacrificed in order to gain some kind of favor with the gods. But, doctors at the time would also sacrifice them in order to diagnose their patients. In places like Mesopotamia, doctors would sacrifice a sheep and then remove its liver. Then, they would inspect it because they believed that the liver would contain the same affliction as the patient, which would then allow them to treat the patient accordingly.
1 Impotence Shock Therapy
We all grow up; it is just the natural progression of life. And as we grow up, our bodies undergo several physical and mental changes, with the biggest of these changes occurring when we reach puberty. It is when we reach puberty that most of us become s*xually active. And during that time, we gradually learn everything we need to know about s*x, like pregnancy prevention and protection against STDs. But, we also learn about things such as impotence. When a man is impotent, it means that he cannot develop or maintain an erection. For a guy, this can be a very demoralizing and embarrassing situation, which is why medical professionals have developed several methods to fix it. One of the earlier solutions came when some medical companies advertised and sold “shock belts,” which were actual belts that men would put on. While wearing it, the belt would “help” cure the impotence by sending painful electric shocks to the genitals.