FIVE BIZARRE HISTORICAL CURES

1.Cure a cough with heroin. C.R. Alder Wright, an English chemical researcher, initially created heroin as a non-addictive substitute for morphine in the 1870s.

It was soon utilised by a pharmaceuticals company who laced their aspirin with heroin and found it to be much more effective in the children suffering from sore throats, colds and coughs they advertised it to.

When patients returned time and time again for the treatment, it was realised the drug perhaps wasn’t as non-addictive as it seemed… (Holland, 2019)

2. Want perfect pearly whites? Urine is the solution.

Nowadays urine doesn’t have many uses but for the Romans it was so popular that it was collected from latrines, or communal toilets, and those who profited from its sale had to pay a tax.

A verse by the Roman poet, Catullus, reveals that the Romans used urine that had been left out for a while to clean and whiten their teeth.

It was supposed to remove stains due to the ammonia that it decomposed into, but I think I will stick to toothpaste thanks. (Kumar, 2013)

3. The Powder of Sympathy This concoction was used in the seventeenth century and based on the notion of healing by treating the weapon that inflicted a wound instead of the wound itself.

A German-Swiss alchemist Paracelsus introduced the idea with a Weapon Salve in 1570.

The contents of the powder add to the peculiarity of this treatment – mostly “the moss on the skull of a man who had died a violent death,

Combined with boar’s and bear’s fat, burnt worms, dried boar’s brain, red sandal-wood and mummy”. (Schwarcz, 2018)

4. The “chicken rump” treatment When the Black Death, the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, gripped the world in the mid14th century,

people were afflicted with buboes on their armpits, neck and groin that oozed blood and pus.

Believing it would enable poison to be drawn out, it was advised in 1348 to pluck the feathers from the rump of a chicken and hold it onto the bubo until it died.

This would be repeated with other chickens until one did not die! (Heinrichs, 2017)

5. Trepanation – the practice of drilling, incising or scraping a hole into the skull Trepanation or trephination is thought to be the oldest surgical practise in history.

Performed for a variety of reasons including skull fracture, epilepsy and religious rituals,

It was detailed in the Hippocratic corpus in Greek Medicine to also allow for the drainage of “stagnant” blood.

They believed the blood would spoil and turn into pus and thus trepanning could allow it to flow out. (Cross, 2019)

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